Defending the Yellow Jersey on the Tour de France is possibly one of the most challenging and tactical sporting feats in the world of professional cycling. All eyes are on the wearer of the famed Maillot jaune as he and his team ride cleverly to either maintain or gain time on the would-be challengers in the peloton.
So when the Tour organisers had to move the finish line 6km off the summit of the most feared climb in the race (Mont Ventoux – named after the French word for “windy”) the fans congested around the newly formed finish line.
Mont Ventoux has been the scene of many an epic day on the Tour and with nearly 2000m of ascent over 22 gruelling kilometres, its no wonder that only the worlds best climbers look to this challenge to stamp their authority down on the race.
In the 2016 Tour de France, the spectating cycling world was eager to watch Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana do battle on these hostile slopes. But with the 100km wind gusts and a shortened route up the feared slopes of Mont Ventoux, the race for the yellow jersey took a completely different twist.
The crowds on the road were once again lining the narrow climb up towards the finish line when one of the camera motorcycles needed to suddenly stop as the spectators had literally blocked the road in their viewing frenzy. Richie Porte slammed straight into the back of the bike and Chris Froome collided directly into him.
What followed can only be described as surreal: Froome’s bike had been damaged and he had clearly determined that it was unrideable. So without thinking too much about it, the Kenyan-born Froome took to the hills in his cleats and starting running up the mountain. Eventually he was given a bike by a certified tour mechanic (an appropriately yellow coloured bicycle) but his cleats did not fit into the pedals. Eventually his Team Sky mechanic (Gary Blem) was able to get him a Team issue bike and eventually Chris Froome was able to complete the last few hundred metres on something a bit more familiar…
The Tour organisers reviewed all of the evidence and – despite actually dropping to sixth and based on these “special circumstances” – Froome was reinstated as the wearer of the yellow jersey. The right call in my books.
Now as you can imagine, the fans out there were very quick to get photoshopping and bring on some pretty funny pictures of Froome crossing over to some running scenarios. Here are some select few that surfaced only a few hours later:
See what really happened here: