Movistar have called on Tour de France spectators to abide by rules on mask-wearing and social distancing, after a photo widely shared on social media appears to show a number of fans getting up close to their rider Marc Soler, with masks either fitted incorrectly or not being worn at all.
Could do with one of these going out from every team, or they may end up with nothing to watch https://t.co/l5ZYTWEjT7
— Chris Boardman (@Chris_Boardman) September 6, 2020
As participants of the @LeTour everybody involved in that event, during the actual circumstances with #Covid_19, have and had to make big sacrifices. It is simple to keep this event going- respect the rules-keep the distance to us riders and wear masks, PLEASE.
— Andre Greipel (@AndreGreipel) September 6, 2020
Yesterday's 140km stage hit the Pyrenees, and was perhaps the first occasion in which the fans' behaviour - and the organisers' ability to manage it - was truly tested, with large sections of mountainous road allowing spectators to roam freely as riders battled their way up the Col de Mente, the Port de Balès and the Col de Peyresourde. While television footage and photos can sometimes distort things, the alleged lack of social distancing didn't go unnoticed by some road.cc readers on yesterday's stage report and on social media. Some noted that there were far more spectators than expected who did not appear to be keeping a distance between themselves or the riders.
This frustration is summed up in the tweet from Movistar, with the photo they shared showing a number of maskless fans (you'll also notice our lead image shows at least two not wearing masks as Adam Yates rides by). Chris Boardman added that there's a very real danger of there being "nothing to watch" if incidents such as the one above continue, and André Greipel of Israel Start-Up Nation said this morning that riders have made "big sacrifices" to get to the start line.
So it's not the idiots on the mountain then? We all know what we need to do, these clowns are ignoring everything we already know, don't blame ASO for the actions of others.
— Green Planet (black, white, brown, pink too) 🇬🇾 (@GreenCoaching68) September 6, 2020
Wise words 👌
— Movistar Team (@Movistar_Team) September 6, 2020
On social media, most of the anger appears to be directed at the roadside fans who are failing to abide by the rules, while others are critical of the Tour's organisers ASO and local police for a lack of enforcement. Even so, the French Prime Minister Jean Castex declared that he was satisfied with fan behaviour on Stage 8, telling ITV: "We are prudent, but life goes on. The Tour is happening, the party continues.
"That is our line of conduct and I'm very happy with what I have seen this afternoon in my beautiful Pyrenees."
Clearly there is only so many miles of road the organisers are able to place physical barriers between riders and spectators; and the rest of us are simply hoping that the worrying scenes won't lead to teams having to leave the Tour, or the whole event being called off altogether before it reaches Paris.
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.