Chris Hoy on the Tour: "Somebody's Going to get Killed"

Speaking in Central London last night, Sir Chris Hoy criticised Tour de France organisers for allowing spectators to flood the roads during yesterday's Mont Ventoux stage.

Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Bauke Mollema spectacularly crashed into a TV motorbike which braked suddenly to avoid the throngs of spectators blocking the route. Froome ended up running up the mountain after his own bike was run over and damaged beyond repair. 

Sir Chris Hoy speaking at The Times+ event in London on Thursday

Sir Chris Hoy speaking at The Times+ event in London on Thursday

Team GB's greatest Olympian told an audience of Times+ members: "The stage was finishing at the top of a mountain and as always the crowds get a bit excitable, they start encroaching on the roads, as the lead motorbikes were filming the race and monitoring the race.

"Basically, somebody stepped out so much, the motorbike had to hit the brakes to avoid killing the spectator, but hit the brakes so hard that the cyclist [Richie Porte] went straight into the back of the motorbike, then Chris Froome, then the next guy [Mollema]. So in the end Chris Froome lost about a minute and ran up the hill without his bike, because he couldn't get his bike in time.

Porte, Froome and Mollema just before the crash

Porte, Froome and Mollema just before the crash

"He was losing time hand over fist to his rivals and it was just this farce. It was just ridiculous - but the point is, somebody's going to get killed. It's so dangerous. The crowds - half I don't think are really that interested in the race - they just go there, they're drinking all day as the race comes in. While the real fans are watching the race.

"Some of them are desperately running alongside, trying to get their face on TV to go 'that's me on the telly, I was on that stage when Froome won', or whatever, it's dangerous. It needs to be controlled.

"The simple thing is to get barriers to prevent the fans from coming in. It sounds simple but, you know, logistically it's a huge task because the races are so long and it happens on any of the slower parts where the road goes up. They are aware of it, I'm sure, the organisers, but it needs to be addressed. And maybe it takes something as ridiculous as today's stage, which was nullified ... so Chris didn't lose the minute, he's still in the yellow jersey - but hopefully this is enough for them to say 'right, we need to take some action here' but it's getting so dangerous. Riders are getting injured, spectators are getting injured, the motorbike out-riders are getting injured.

"It looks spectacular when you see the sea of people opening up as the riders go up, but it reminds me a bit of the wee rally days back in the 80s when spectators were getting killed by cars going off into the crowds. Ok, the bikes aren't going as fast or as heavy as the rally cars were, but it's the same principle."

Hoy was echoing the thoughts of many other Tour de France watchers and commentators. Chris Boardman, speaking on ITV4's Highlights programme said, "We've seen it happen before. It was inevitable because we've got people crowding, often quite drunk, crowding onto the bike riders and I'm wondering just now what is going to happen before someone takes responsibility...I'm just flabbergasted  everyone just says 'business as usual'."

David Millar's live commentary set a similar tone: "I don't understand what's going on. The UCI need to do something about it."