Boo, History

Dutch Corner Alpe d'Huez

Chris Froome and Team Sky have been booed at the Tour de France. Is the salbutamol case behind this? You’d have to go and ask those doing it what their motivations are but Sky have got plenty of boos in previous years too. Hostility from the sections of the crowd goes right back to the earliest editions of the race. Over the years Gino Bartali almost got lynched in the Pyrenees and Jacques Anquetil even named a boat after the jeering crowds who didn’t like him winning.

A few incidents might still shock but the wonder is why an event that passes 12 million people with barely a barrier, tape or fence between athletes and spectators doesn’t see more trouble.

Kill Them!
The Col de la République is the first climb above 1,000m used by the Tour de France and at the top there’s a monument to Paul de Vivie, aka Vélocio, a pioneer of cycle touring and early champion of the derailleur. It’s also notable for something else. In 1904 the Tour drew a crowd of 200 fervent supporters waiting to cheer on local rider Antonin Faure. They crowd must have been delighted to see Faure lead the race but things went sour as his competitors came into sight. First the Italian rider Gerbi was pushed off his bike, beaten and got a broken finger. Then the crowd surrounded defending champion Maurice Garin and chants of “kill him” went out. Here’s French writer Pierre Chany (my translation):

A bunch of fanatics wielded sticks and shouted insults, setting on the other riders: Maurice and César Garin got a succession of blows, the older brother [Maurice] was hit in the face with a stone. Soon there was general mayhem: “Up with Faure! Down with Garin! Kill them!” they were shouting. Finally cars arrived and the riders could get going thanks to pistol shots. The aggressors disappeared into the night

Was it true? Chany wasn’t born until 1922 so the story is second-hand at best and if Chany was long the authority on the Tour, many accounts of the sport’s early days were exaggerated so it’s hard to know; it could equally have been played down too. Either way this suggests the Tour’s crowds had a rowdy contingent right from the start.

Vietto comes a cropper in a cropped shot

The 1934 edition saw huge crowds cheer René Vietto as the “moral winner” of the race after handing wheels and bikes to team mates, the idea being that the public thought Vietto was the best rider in the race but he was denied the win because of team orders. It reached the point where the actual winner Antonin Magne was booed and whistled and needed Vietto at his side to calm the crowds. But in “The Sweat of Gods” Benjo Maso sets out how much of Vietto’s tale was fabricated and exaggerated by the media, including the famous tale of a photograph that portrayed Vietto alone in his sorrow having surrendered his front wheel. In reality there were people standing around him but they were cropped out of the shot and the public didn’t know better.

An artistic impression

In 1950 Gino Bartali and Jean Robic were away on the Col d’Aspin but crashed because of the crowd. Reports vary but share common traits of a bust-up with fans angry at the Italian domination of the race as by the time the race reached the Pyrenees the Italians had taken half the stages and Fiorenzo Magni wore the yellow jersey. One account says a knife was flashed at Bartali, another says it was just a man with a knife in one hand and some saucisson in the other. The Italian team quit the race in a protest led by Gino Bartali with Magni leaving too while leading the race.

The French crowd can turn on their compatriots. In 1961 Jacques Anquetil announced he wanted to lead the Tour de France from start to finish. He did (if you exclude sprinter André Darrigade winning a split stage) and many viewed him as arrogant and Maître Jacques was whistled, hissed and booed all over France. In the victory laps around the Parc des Princes in Paris the runner-up, Luxembourg’s Charly Gaul, was cheered by the crowds. Anquetil later bought a boat and christened it Sifflets, French for whistles.

The 1975 Tour had its rowdy moments, notably when Merckx got a punch to the kidneys which left him sore for much of the race and potentially long after too. He eventually lost the yellow jersey to Bernard Thévenet. A Frenchman beating Merckx and taking yellow: this must have been a dream come true for Thévenet? Actually it had its darker moments as he told Jean-Paul Ollivier of radio station France Info. He said he was spat on while in yellow and the people doing this were French rather than angry Belgians avenging Merckx. Thévenet’s theory was that some people simply don’t like the leader of the race, that the yellow jersey was going to attract these acts.

Still Merckx getting a punch is very different from Thévenet getting a boo, violence versus free speech. A boo or a costume like we saw in the last Giro when someone was shaking a giant asthma inhaler doesn’t interfere with the race. In a twist of fate during the 2015 Tour de France Chris Froome and his entourage attributed some of his treatment by the crowds to loaded words said by TV and radio pundit Laurent Jalabert. It turns out Jalabert’s younger brother Nicolas had urine thrown at him in the 2008 Tour de France, fell ill and quit the the next day. Mark Cavendish said he got a soaking in 2013 but in a subsequent interview with Daniel Friebe for The Cycling Podcast hinted it could equally have been warm beer. If all this sounds bad enough in 2009 Julian Dean and Oscar Freire were shot at, although it was pellets from an airgun with reports of teenagers lurking behind a tree. Potentially more dangerous, in 2012 a moron dropped carpet tacks on the Col de Péguère which could have caused great harm on the ensuing descent.

Going viral
Today’s media can amplify one fool’s actions very quickly. All it takes is an animated GIF of one person spitting on a rider and the clip is posted on websites like Buzzfeed where bored office workers from Cincinnati to Sydney get the impression that the Tour de France is held under a shower of saliva. Such viral transmission is new in scale but the media has long played a role, go back to the case of Bartali in 1950 mentioned above and French newspapers branded the Italians “wheelsuckers” which set the crowds against them.

Voiture Balai

Lastly we need to distinguish between the crowds and a tiny minority. The Tour de France and other races are made better by the giant crowds, a bike race without people lining the roads never feels the same and the lack of barriers makes the event special, there’s almost nothing like it in other sports. One of the striking things about a day out at the Tour de France is just how many people are out for a picnic and a caravanne freebie. Ask them who is in the yellow jersey and many are stumped. But they know how to spot suffering and when the riders eventually arrive the first and last get a cheer.

Like it or not, booing and seems to be have been part of some people’s roadside repertoire for decades and even a Frenchman in yellow can be on the receiving end of it. It’s worth calling out any acts that endanger the riders, from imbeciles after a selfie to those with any darker intentions but at the same time the risk is we dwell on a few idiots when we should be celebrating the millions out to enjoy the Tour as a spectacle. People who stand in a field for half of the day or walk up a mountain to cheer on the riders are largely there to cheer on the riders and have a good day out and help make the race special, to watch a race on TV August is like having the sound on mute because there’s nobody to cheer on the riders.

Note: this piece is a retread of a post here from the winter of 2016 after a few readers had emailed in to ask if it was safe to visit the Tour de France. It is and should be an experience every cycling fan enjoys at some point.

82 thoughts on “Boo, History”

  1. It’s curious how some cyclists become popular targets for booing, but others with equally flawed personalities and histories don’t. Maybe a Ph.D. in psychology there for somebody with the time on their hands.

  2. Borrowing from The Simpson’s – they’re not booing, they’re shouting FrOOOOOOOOOOOMe!
    I yelled “Froome go home!” at the Giro a time or two, but he’s been cleared (no matter how awful I believe it was) so if/when I see LeTour live this year I’ll cheer for my faves and leave Froome and Sky alone.
    I think fans have the right to boo or whistle, but please leave it at that – and stay the hell off the damn road!!!!

  3. Awesome post.

    I have been thinking the treatment of Froome has been extremely harsh with some of the media taking every chance to bash him – and he should either had stood up for himself better, or have more friends in the media who can.

    Amazing to see some of these other stories – I was going to write it puts things in perspective but then I realised it was bad then and is bad now?!

    Although I guess even someone as quiet and poorly adjusted for the public gaze as Froome can get his point of view out easier today so it doesn’t take fifty years for records to be set straight to those who want to listen.

    (Just to highlight, not defending previous Sky or possibly future Froome revelations, they may all be guilty etc etc just on tips particular case Froome himself seems to have been treated pretty viciously without that much cause)

    • Froome, and Team Sky generally, get criticism because they have consistently claimed the mantle of being clean and ethical, but then are shown to be little different to all the other riders, in terms of regular use of steroids (under TUE) and beta-2 agonists. E.g., Froome around the time Wiggins’ TUE

      “I take my position in the sport very seriously and I know that I have to not only abide by the rules, but also go above and beyond that to set a good example both morally and ethically,”

      Brailsford’s many claims that Sky would lead on transparency, versus nearly everything else he says, and then the Westminster report on Sky, with Sutton saying Sky were using TUEs for performance.

      Valverde at least doesn’t go on and on in the media about being clean. If I have to watch professional dopers, they can at least not treat me like an idiot and spare me the hypocrisy.

      That’s why Sky get so much stick.

      • The problem with this is that Valverde is a caught and sanctioned “professional doper” whereas Sky, Wiggins and Froome are not.

        If that actual difference gets reversed in people’s minds then what an upside down world we live in. The whole booing and negativity phenomenon is so often based on emotion not fact.

        • I think they’re all pharmacological wonders. As per Sutton, Sky’s “marginal gain” is they’ve figured out how to do this via TUEs and specified substances.

          Valverde, etc., at least don’t try to blow smoke up my rear-end on top of that with hypocritical claims to transparency, being clean, and ethics.

          • Oh, and probably blood transfusions, carefully managed with Sky’s medical expertise to stay within ABP parameters. Leinders was an expert in that, Froome has a strange penchant for long-sleeve jerseys on hot rest days.

    • Tips = this.

      I should also say before this starts an avalanche – I have sympathy for Ulissi and others, the test for Salb seems unperfected.

      But I subscribe the view that Froomes case has hopefully overturned a wrong and helped future riders with it not being his fault what happened before. Money and double standards yes, but the outcome is positive if it stops others being unfairly banned who also do not have Froomes means.

      Once again this post is brilliant, possibly my fave ever.

  4. I agree with Larry in general. Boo it up all you like. Dress up as an inhaler or a doctor or wave an imitation TUE around all you like. But let the riders race and don’t fire any of your bodily fluids in their general direction.

    What has concerned me about this Tour, which is of course Froome-related, is that someone might interfere with his race. I think what stops people now is the almost certainty that they will be caught on video and identified. You can’t skulk into the night like its 1904 anymore. But, as in 2016 with the infamous Ventoux running, it must be the case in any future incidents involving any rider interfered with that either the race is neutralised if it is that serious or riders cannot be hampered by outside parties to the detriment of their race result. To do this will send out a strong message to fans that the integrity of the event will be respected. To not do it gives carte blanche to idiots to materially effect the outcome of the race and in that case it is no longer sport at all.

    • I’m thinking here especially of stage 12 which finishes on Alpe d’Huez here. As you will all know you are literally running the gauntlet of fans up this climb. It would be easy to stick out a hand and grab a jersey or a seat post.

      • Yes, what stops people from doing stupid things today is a camera every which way.

        Oh, wait.

        No, hopefully everyone will be on hinges, cheer whomever they want to, be somewhat respectful to whomever they don’t like. And let’s take ‘hate’ out of the equation, please.

        If you ever had any incentive to hate anybody in your life, it is certainly not because of cycling, or anyone in it, and your actions should speak likewise.

        Otherwise, I don’t believe you have the right to justify the use of the H-word.
        It is the strongest you can put forward to anyone, surely it has better uses?

        It is no secret that CFs life has been threatened on some so-called cycling sites online. That is just f******, regardless of any sentiment against him or his team.

        Not necessarily pointed at your post there RonD, but had to go in fast and get out! (but your last post there is worrying, indeed – in context of your former).

        • I think I’d qualify your statement to “If you ever had any incentive to hate anybody in your life, it is certainly not because of _professional_ cycling”. Idiots who deliberately drive their car at me for having the temerity to ride a bike seem to me eminently deserving of at least a short burst of hatred.

  5. Another really good post, thank you.

    In terms of numbers and TV visibility, are there not more people who are trying to help the riders? And that is certainly just as dangerous in the end. However, the ‘boos’ and whistles get the attention.

    You have written before of the risk of proximity between the riders and the crowds. You have been correct to note that sometimes the riders hand out the punches. The closeness is part of the magic of the race and part of the risk. The Tour would not be the Tour without it.

    And my mornings would not be as much fun without your posts, thank you for all that work you do to make them happen. I’m pleased to wear my Inner Ring kits over and over.

  6. It just seems to be the Tour that attracts the crazies; I don’t recall much of this type of stuff at the Giro or Vuelta. I guess it is just the baggage the comes with the biggest race in the world. Or maybe it’s just the French 😉

  7. Excellent post. One small comment – “including the famous tale of a photograph that portrayed Vietto alone in his sorrow having surrendered his back wheel” – looking at the photograph it surely was the front wheel?

  8. A couple of thoughts that spring to my mind from this piece.
    Firstly that crowd engagement in the event is a good thing overall, even if it is booing.
    But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, would it be better for the French crowd to inspire their riders rather than be negative?
    When some of the great sporting crowds come to mind, they can have a partisan element to them but it is their capacity to lift their favourites that gives them real value.
    AG2R’s aggressive tactics did help to give the French fans belief last year and I would like to see this dynamic continue and grow.

  9. Why assume the more vociferous members of the Tour crowd are French. That’s certainly not my experience, with anglophone behaviour being particularly bad on occasions.

    • Exactly that. I read here a bias, that everybody with bad behaviour is automatically French crowd. Truth is, this race attracts spectators from all over the world, and unless you see the passport of a booing spectator, you just couldn’t know.

      • It’s hardly a bias to assume that a randomly selected spectator at a race is from the place where the race is happening. Any given spectator at the Tour is more likely to be French than any other nationality.

        • Enjoyable post and discussion, thanks. Probably true. In the south of France at least, our experience (statistically insignificant sample size) was more french in cities, with foreigners sometimes out numbering French outside cities especially in the Alpes. We met numerous foreigners following the tour, at various weird unexpected locations.

  10. Part of the French peoples attitude has been exaggerated by a combination of inflammatory remarks from the French UCI President, French organizer ASO and Hinault.

    It is little wonder that we are witnessing attitudes that most of us regard as unacceptable and unpleasant in the world of sport.

  11. The WADA case is without precedent and anything sounding like “it all has happened before, let’s move on and enjoy the race” is ethically suspect in ignoring that WADA’s suicide is something that has no precedent. WADA is the only thing to talk about. Trying to move to another subject betrays a certain preference.

    • It’s not so much “move on” as tthe opposite, we’re not going into new territory with the booing: we’re were things have always been. What share of the crowd lining the road knows about urine-specific gravity for salbutmol and other details of the case? …and then among them what percentage of them are so upset with WADA that they boo? I suspect it could be a minority and that the antipathy is more visceral.

    • By ‘without precedent’, I take it you mean ‘like the majority of cases in which an AAF has been returned’.

      56% of AAF cases do not result in any ADRV case being opened. To claim otherwise is either ignorance or malice.

      Hardly WADA committing suicide.

      • In how many of those cases were WADA involved?

        AAFs may initially be pursued by a national federation, and if they opt not to open a case at all, it may be difficult for the UCI and WADA to even find out about it, to be able to decide whether to appeal it.

        • I’m not sure what the relevance is, though? It’s still WADA rules being enforced on the matter. They are still precedent. (Also, WADA were aware enough of Petacchi being cleared by his national federation to appeal.)

          • The relevance is national federations don’t always pursue cases with, uhm, vigour. As national federations (as with the UCI to an extent) have conflicted interests with their interests in promoting the sport generally, and enforcing rules that might damage the credibility of the sport (such as anti-doping rules). Which is why the UCI and WADA have the power to appeal national federation cases.

            If an ADRV case is never opened at all, and hence no formal judgement made to begin with, is it even possible for WADA or UCI to bring an appeal?

            I.e., if we want to draw some conclusion about WADAs’ position/behaviour, and we quote some statistics about cases, we must make sure those cases are ones that WADA actually could have exercised any influence over.

          • And I’ll go further than that, members of the WADA technical committee can have conflicts of interest with their performance work with athletes. (Which is something sports journalists should really start digging into).

          • It’s interesting that WADA’s Prohibited List Expert Group consists of 4 Brits, 3 Americans, 2 Germans, and one member from Ireland, Australia, and Canada.

          • That list is where they are based not where they are from. One of those down as the UK is Justice Tettey from Ghana who is also on the panel for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime based in Vienna. It’s hardly a surprise that scientists (which they all are) who have the time to also be part of a WADA panel are based at universities in the main based in the worlds richer countries.

    • “Without precedent” is such an overreach to be hyperbolic in the extreme. The inability to understand that the one size fits all approach to testing for levels of a substance via urine whether you’ve been competing for 10 seconds, 2 hours with no bladder release or 5 hours with multiple comfort breaks is the issue. That one of the key proponents of the test has admitted this should count for far more than the assumptions being made by some. This will lead to better testing not worse. As pointed out, 56% don’t go past the initial investigation and most of these are because of the fear of false positives. The more refined the tests the better it will be in the long run. If this had happened to a triathlete the vast majority of cycling fans wouldn’t even know about it let alone be talking like it’s all a huge conspiracy and that, from the article you linked to, “anti-dipping is dead”. Your man Trump couldn’t be more out of step if he tried in comparison to some of the tosh being said in the cycling world.

      • Key to Sky’s argument is the notion that the salbutamol test might be prone to giving false positive results. Yet if this was the case you’d imagine that the number of athletes testing positive for salbutamol would be higher than the 0.0008 per cent in 2016. There have been only 11 positive tests in the UK in the last decade and all of these were judged to be doping violations.

        Froome was actually 67 per cent over the permitted level when he was tested at the Vuelta, which is quite something given that the upper limit is a remarkably, perhaps foolishly, generous one which equates to about 500 per cent of the normal dose taken by an asthma sufferer.

        • Fair enough Inrng so I’ll just say the 11 out of 11 tests in the UK are those that went to an ADRV. It doesn’t include the unknown quantity that like Froomes, never went beyond investigation. Sorry but hard not to just let false statistics go but that’s it from me I promise. 😉

          • “Sorry but hard not to just let false statistics go but that’s it from me I promise.”

            So I hope you won’t mind being pulled up on this statistic:

            “I’ll just say the 11 out of 11 tests in the UK are those that went to an ADRV.”

            As the tests which don’t result in an ADRV aren’t made public and thus can’t be counted, what this quote actually means is:

            11 out of the 11 tests which went to an ADRV went to an ADRV.

    • Ferdi, it might be observed that you have been one of those contributors most adding to the sound of the boos coming from these comments lately. Yet you fail to mention that you have no idea how many riders have returned AAFs before, had a long process during which they were allowed to ride, maybe even won races, and were then cleared. The reason you don’t mention that is because you would never have known about it because the process, in those cases, was entirely confidential. So, the fact is you don’t even know if Froome’s case is unique but that doesn’t seem to stop you banging on as if it were.

      As others have pointed out, a majority of suspected AAFs result in no action but then I suppose one takeaway from Inrng’s excellent article on booing and more underhand shenanigans is that logic and reasoned thought often aren’t the causes of negative reactions so much as a simple desire to let your feelings run away with you. People are allowed to boo but riders are also entitled to ride in safety. When inaccurate hate based in figments of the imagination turns to physical action on the roads we should worry.

  12. Brillant post as always, Inrng.
    Keep an eye on the Danish riders this year – the youngsters are coming… and ‘the old bird’ are flying high too, hehe.

  13. The most surprising part of the post, to me, was that Anquetil was booed for being arrogant. I wouldn’t have expected that from the French. In my experience , French and Americans are similar in this respect , they don’t usually mind a bit of boasting.

    @corrections: There is an unfinished sentence in the penultimate paragraph, it ends suddenly after “you can”.

    • There is nothing like “The French” or “The Americans”. There are arrogant or non-arrogant, respectful or non-respectful people in both countries. Like in any other.

      • To put something straight here, I wasn’t saying that the French or Americans are all arrogant. I wasn’t even saying that they are more arrogant on average. There is certainly a difference between cultures in different countries, and this includes how people regard others who speak well of themselves. In my experience, what would be considered arrogant in ny home country (The Netherlands, well known for its egalitarian culture), is perfectly normal, self-confident behavior elsewhere, and what is regarded as the correct amount of modesty at home is considered ‘selling yourself short’ in other parts of the world . Again, this is about the average, The average person has one breast and one testicle, so that’s how much averages say about individuals. I personally know many French and Americans who value modesty greatly.

        • “Again, this is about the average, The average person has one breast and one testicle, so that’s how much averages say about individuals”.

          Average humans perhaps but not average females or average males.

    • He had his supporters but also left a lot of people cold. At the time L’Equipe’s columnist described as as someone in (too much of) a hurry, like ” a diner who hurries out of a restaurant without leaving a tip”.

      • Anquetil genuinely (in today’s slang) DNGAF. The story of his personal life is stunning.

        Thanks for rerunning this post. I love the history lessons.

  14. No, there is something like the french or the americans.
    They are peoples of two nations, and both are well known around the world to be arrogant – correct or otherwise.

    To say that all of the french or americans are arrogant, that is not correct.

  15. Froome must be delighted that his boss is continuing to fan the flames, rather than keep a low profile.
    Similarly, Lappartient should be keeping quiet too (as he should have whilst the case was ongoing – UCI presidents never seem to do that): it was his organisation who found Froome not guilty.

    • I think its fair to say that Lappartient personally has seemed to skew his comments in favour of “WADA agreed with Froome so what could I do?” You get the impression that he would have preferred to go to his French chums as David the Froomeslayer. One wonders if it was his organisation with the leak that has led to death threats for one of the sport’s leading riders. All this is relevant because casual observers can see how people are presenting themselves and in their conspiracy theories all these things get built in. Brailsford said a UCI president should not be playing to the gallery, or certain sections of it, but be protecting his sport worldwide without fear or favour. I haven’t seen Lappartient going around making sure it was understood Froome was adjudged to have not had an AAF. Many people still seem to have think he did, gave a reading of 2000 ng/ml, etc, and numerous other falsehoods. All this feeds the boos and the ignorance, which often go together.

  16. The notion that this is ‘the French’ is, at best, unproven: many people of many nationalities are angry about the WADA/UCI decision.
    None of them have the right to do anything physical – boo a complete stranger if that’s how you want to spend your day, but anything else (including the moronic runners, who are a problem every year) is out of order.
    On days like we’ve had so far, undoubtedly the crowd is predominantly French. Once we get into the mountains, although French fans will still be the majority, there are huge numbers of people from all over the world – the idea that this is a ‘French problem’ is incorrect.
    The idea that certain nationalities behave in a certain way is dangerous: nationalism is a false construct our governments use to control our behaviour (one of many means they use to say ‘Don’t blame us for how things are, blame this group’ – then you just choose the group: the poor, foreigners, ‘people who don’t work hard enough’, people who look different, etc. and so on).
    You only have to look at history to see how dangerous nationalism is, including Tour history – see how many of the issues above were based on nationality.
    Whatever someone does, they are responsible for it – it does not become the fault of their (supposed) nationality.
    People are individuals: whenever you see them placed into a group you should suspect the motives of those who have constructed this artificial group.

    • Japanese does not have a word for “subject”. Why is this relevant? Because its just one example which shows that language and culture are very much sociological phenomena. “Personal responsibility” is even another example for, without it, justice in courts of law would be impossible. Without thinking that people could be personally responsible it would be impossible to condemn them for anything they did.

    • Quite so. From old Weber (“Catholics are like this and Protestants are like that”), cascades of national stereotyping have had a chilling effect on fair, objective treatment of other people.

  17. Froome and Sky have been booed in France for the last 5 or 6 years, but never as bad as this year. I think what worries me is the amount of social media posts and comments that are actually condoning attacking the guy. It’s all just probably keyboard warrior talk, but all it takes is some idiot to have a few too many beers and think it’s “justice”.

  18. Did I see a big yellow lorry with a rotary sweeper in some aerial shots this last couple of days? Seems to be a sensible precaution if there are thought to be tacks being thrown around.
    Wasn’t there a stage a few years ago that was badly affected and is that the reason that tacks never get a mention in commentary? (Is there an ASO list of things not to mention in coverage of its events? If so, what’s on it?)

    • Stage 14 of the 2012 TdF was affected by tacks, as referred to by inrng above. Around 30 riders got punctures. Cadel Evans punctured 3 times, and Wiggins encouraged the group to slow for him (and then flatted himself). Back in the days when people thought he was a good guy.

      Rolland missed that memo, so there was a reasonable bit of polemica when he was ultimately caught by the group. Amusingly Van Garderen also seemed to be hard of hearing the first time Evans flatted, and rode away from his team leader.

  19. Fan interference isn’t new, but as Inner Ring says, it’s more visible now and it’s no longer expected. In Vin Denson’s excellent autobiography he talks about riding the giro in the 60s, and it sounds pretty common back then.
    “They were chucking rubbish at us from balconies: tomatoes, spaghetti, old newspapers, anything. I was covered with the contents of the dustbins when I walked into the hotel at Naples. The bastards!”
    “Denson said Italian fans often made a pretence of helping push foreign riders up hills while pulling at their brakes to slow them down.”

    • That’s so f–ed up it’s funny! Those Italians! Somehow their aim with the tomatoes, spaghetti, etc. was so great they hit only the foreign riders…and then pulled on the brakes of the riders they pretended to push instead of simply holding onto them while faking a push? Then they probably picked the pockets of the innocent foreigners while stealing their bottles and everything else they could grab. And to top it off, they sneaked into the foreign team hotels and let the air out of their bike tires! 🙂

      • Why would a relatively unknown domestic make it up 30 years later? I say relativity, first British to win a stage of the Giro, and I think the only English man to win a road stage until Yates this year.
        Or am I misreading it, and you’re saying they probably did such things back then? This lovable Italian rogues!

        We all know you love Italy and the Italians, but you don’t need to take every mention of them as an intended insult against the whole nation.

        • Writes the guy (James) who posted the link to the stereotypical reference by the Brit against the Italians in the first place. And then Dave piles on. I keep thinking of “Where Angels Fear to Tread” when I read these Anglo comments about all things Italian. I think the UK is pretty infamous for drunken football hooligans, but I won’t claim the entire nation is like that – but when it’s Brits referring to Italians that doesn’t seem to be the case…the Italians who hold onto the side of a car in a bike race are derided as dirty, rotten, cheats by the fans of the British guy who was thrown out of the Giro for doing the same thing.
          While I do ID myself as an unabashed Italo-phile, I take these things as insults as much as I do the stereotype that US citizens are all warmongering capitalists.

          • Larry, did you ever stop to think that your constant negative references to “Anglos” is every bit as insulting as the imagined sleights you take on behalf of Italians, even though you are not remotely Italian yourself?

            If you want fair treatment it is often best to start by demonstrating it yourself. It is amazing how ready to take offense so many people are.

          • Please tell me what exactly ARE my “constant negative references to “Anglos” other than (constantly I’ll admit) pointing out the Anglo bias exhibited so often on this forum against Italians, Spaniards, etc? My reference to Where Angels Fear to Tread tries to illustrate the love/hate relationship with Italy the author (a Brit himself I think?) describes so well.
            By love/hate I don’t mean “love to hate”…that would more accurately describe my feelings for all things SKY.
            One final (I promise) note on the comment about me being not even remotely Italian – I’m not black either so I shouldn’t care about racist/xenophobic stereotypes about people who are?

  20. No one complains and blames better than Froome. That he is even riding seems like a back room, political miracle. I vaguely remember when Sky came on the scene with their “clean” and “marginal gains” PR. They were going to be awesome, refreshing; the sport was going to clean itself up. All turned into a disappointment. They are clever though, making LA, Bruyneel, and company look like hometown hacks.

    Maybe that’s why they/he is getting harassed?

    • After reading this comment it dawns on me that he is getting harassed because people have decided they will think what they want, as if they could create the world they wanted in their own minds.

      So, come on anon, show me I’m not wrong. Give examples of Froome “complaining and blaming”. It seems to me that he has been exactly the opposite. The only thing he has complained about is that a private process (which ultimately cleared him) was usurped by some disreputable person somewhere. And he should have complained about that. Your own brief post is very light on detail and high on unsubstantiated innuendos. But that is often the way with the boo boys. Facts don’t matter and you’ve decided to dislike someone. When all your supposed reasons disappear like so much sand in the wind you don’t change your mind like a reasonable person, you keep generating reasons to carry on. I bet you couldn’t even list anything Froome has actually, definitely done wrong.

  21. The crowd is part of the show on Alpe d’Huez, but thousands of rowdies camp there leading up to the race, getting drunker and stupider by the hour until the riders go by. It would be expensive and difficult to put barriers along the entire climb, but if there’s any possibility that Froome or any other rider will be harmed by some inebriated moron, the roadside along that part of the stage should be closed to spectators.

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