UCI Cookson Warns Of Rise In Tour de France Hooligans

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Kuala Lumpur, July 30, 2015 (AFP) – World cycling chief Brian Cookson has
warned of a rise in “hooliganism” on Tour de France routes and said winner
Chris Froome was the target of nasty insults.

After one of the most controversial races in recent years, Cookson also
told AFP in an interview that the number of “tired” riders on the Tour made
him believe tougher doping tests are having an impact.

“There were some regrettable incidents on the tour,” the International
Cycling Union (UCI) president said on the sidelines of International Olympic
Committee meetings in Kuala Lumpur.

“I am worried about the beginnings of an element of hooliganism coming
towards our sport which we have largely been able to avoid in recent years.

“Everyone needs to be a little bit careful for the future.”

He pointed out Briton Froome’s claims that urine and beer were thrown at
him and crowds spat at him following French media reports casting doubt on his
performances. But there was also vandalism.

Cookson said the incidents could be “isolated” but had made him “very
uncomfortable”.

“I think Chris was subjected to a fairly nasty form of antagonism from a
small number of people.

“But there was also a little bit of slightly joking, slightly hooligan-type
behaviour in places with cars being kicked, things being thrown at cars.”

Bearded cross-dressers and fans in superhero outfits have traditionally
mixed with beer-swilling spectators along routes. But Cookson said French
authorities shared his concerns and warned that the freedom around cycling
could be at risk.

“Over the years I have become more and more worried about people running
alongside riders, pushing riders and so on and we are getting to a point where
that’s beginning to be a little more concerning.

“The Tour, all of cycle racing is a great free sport. It is possible to get
close to the athletes, to the competitors, in a way that is not really
possible in any other sport. If we want that to continue then we all have a
responsibility to behave.”

When asked about Froome’s treatment, the UCI leader from Britain said it
was not his job “to speak up for or defend any individual rider or any
individual team.

Photo: Cor Vos

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