Tour de France

TDF director evokes 'exceptional circumstances'

2016-07-14 21:52
Christian Prudhomme (AFP)

Mont Ventoux - Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme explained that "exceptional circumstances" were behind the decision to reinstate Chris Froome with the race leader's yellow jersey.

The 31-year-old Briton was sensationally held up in the final kilometre of Thursday's 12th stage on Mont Ventoux following a crash with a motorbike that broke his bicycle.

It left him running desperately towards the finishing line at one point before he was given a replacement bike to end the race.

He crossed the line 1min 21sec behind fellow Briton Adam Yates who was initially announced as the new race leader, before the race commission changed the results to Froome's benefit.

"The finish line was moved the day before due to the weather," explained Prudhomme.

"There was no other possible decision as the wind was blowing at 130km/h in the early afternoon.

"I saw a caravan blown over at the Ventoux summit.

"But we weren't able to move all the safety barriers."

Safety barriers were supposed to be installed in the final 2.6km of the stage to keep over-exuberant fans away from the riders in the crucial finale.

Instead, only 600-metres of barriers had been put in place ahead of the re-arranged finish at the Chalet Reynard.

"Other barriers installed close to Chalet Reynard fell over and we found ourselves with fewer barriers than usual," added Prudhomme.

"At the same time there was a rush of fans because those camped on the (original) last few kilometres of Ventoux came back down.

"This flood (of people) produced an exceptional situation.

"It really was due to an excess of fans."

Prudhomme said there would be an inquiry to find out why a motorbike was forced to stop on the route, causing the crash involving Australian Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands, as well as Froome.

A jury of commissioners representing world cycling governing body the UCI came to the decision to invoke the 3km rule normally used in mass sprint finishes, which neutralises times in the run-in to the line in case of a crash or technical incident.

It means Froome and Porte were given the same time as Mollema, the first to get up and finish from their group.

"I saw the jury and what I told them was that an exceptional decision could be explained, given the absolutely exceptional circumstances," added Prudhomme.

Not everyone supported the decision and some fans jeered when Froome went up to the victory podium to receive the yellow jersey.

"People often struggle to love the dominant champion," commented Prudhomme.

Froome wasn't the only rider to benefit from the jury's decision.

Porte also gained time by being given the same time as Mollema while Froome's main rival, Nairo Quintana of Colombia, his Spanish Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde and American Tejay Van Garderen also gained a few seconds as they were credited with the same time as Yates.

A group of overall contenders, including Quintana and Yates, was chasing the Froome group at the time of the crash, and they were held up in the bottleneck produced by the incident.

Prudhomme called on fans to be more careful.

"You have to respect the security advice and the riders," he added.

Read more on:    tdf 2016  |  chris froome  |  cycling

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