‘Amazing’ Tour de France Crowd Needs To Be safe

peloton_tdf_stage1_2014
by Barnaby CHESTERMAN

HARROGATE, United Kingdom, July 05, 2014 (AFP) – Tour de France riders and
organisers praised the “amazing” crowds in Yorkshire on Saturday but pleaded
with people to take more care for their own and riders’ safety.

The number of people standing by the side of the roads along the 190km
course from Leeds to Harrogate stunned many observers but several riders said
their enthusiasm had got the better of them.

Race winner Marcel Kittel of Germany said that while it was great to see,
they needed to be more wary of their safety.

“There were some moments when I thought, now we will crash because the
spectators were taking pictures and didn’t see that they were in the centre of
the road,” he said.

“It’s very important to tell people we are of course happy to have them
there, they were an amazing crowd, it was really amazing to see them there,
but they really have to take care of themselves and stay off the road and look
after their children.”

Tour organisers took to Twitter to plead with people to be more careful,
saying: “SECURITY MESSAGE: please stay beside the road during the race.”

German sprinter Andre Greipel also griped about the overzealous fans lining
the streets.

He tweeted: “I appreciate people coming to support us + making an
incredible feeling 4 us along the road but please stay beside the road not on
the road.”

Several other riders including Australian Mark Renshaw and Team Sky’s
Austrian Bernhard Eisel tweeted similar messages urging fans to stay out fo
the roads.

Not everyone thought it was a problem, though.

Australian Simon Gerrans crashed in the sprint finish when he came together
with Briton Mark Cavendish but he had nothing but praise for the supporters.

“The crowds were unbelievable, it’s not too many times in my career that
I’ve raced in front of crowds as big as we’ve had today,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a buzz racing in front of so many people.”

Twice former Tour winner Alberto Contador paid tribute to the sheer number
of fans who turned out.

Contador wrote on twitter: “More than 2.000.000 people along the stage,
speechless with the welcome of the public. Thanks. #YorkshireGrandDepart
#England #TDF.”

Some people compared the crowds on the Yorkshire Dales with the throngs
usually seen in the Alps or Pyrenees.

Garmin Sharp’s American manager and former racer Jonathan Vaughters tweeted
a picture of the crowds with a message: “Crowds were truly incredible today.
Biggest I’ve seen outside l’alpe d’huez.”

Garmin’s team leader Andrew Talansky, one of the overall victory outsiders
and winner of last month’s Criterium du Dauphine, also tweeted his delight.

“What a day to start the Tour! Never seen so many people out on the roads.
Thank you Yorkshire for starting us off in grand style!”

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