Had Yves Lampaert been leading Paris-Roubaix when he was taken out by a spectator, the witch-hunt would surely have already begun.
As it was, the Belgian had been in possession of a shot at the podium. At most. He’s achieved that before anyway, back in 2019, so let’s put the pitchforks down, shall we?
All the same, the individual responsible would probably be advised not to go autograph hunting at the QuickStep bus this evening. Patrick Lefevere is not exactly known for being “mild mannered” at the best of times.
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As we speak they are - surely - reflecting on their actions and deeply mortified by the calamity caused by them. Like you or I, their presence at the side of the road for the greatest of one-day races - no correspondence will be entered into on that one - and the very fact of their applauding, in the actual direction of the approaching athletes, rather than mugging for the TV cameras or taking a selfie, means they must be an ardent appreciator of the sport.
That’s more than can be said for the Allez Opi Omi woman who effectively brought Tony Martin’s career to an end at last year’s Tour de France. For the crime of egregious narcissism she was suitably flogged with a copy of L’Equipe and fined by the French justice system.
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‘Stupid! Chaos!’ – Fan causes huge crash that brings down entire peloton
You might be someone who believes that something should be done. And it would not be completely impossible to prevent such incidents from occurring. The measures that would need to be introduced, however, would either be entirely out of all proportion or be prohibitively expensive. Assuming the solution cannot be achieved with, umm, drones or something to do with the blockchain - whatever that is - it’s either banning roadside spectators or barriering every metre of every course. Take your pick, keyboard warriors.
Either of these interventions would destroy road cycling as we know it, which is beautiful in no small part because it takes place wholly within the real world. The inability of race organisers to completely control the environment in which the sporting contest occurs is intrinsic to its unpredictability, which is why every race is different, and is ultimately why we choose to spend six hours of a glorious spring Sunday inside. If we didn’t we would be watching Formula 1 instead. (Sorry not sorry if you happen to enjoy both.)
‘This is a bike race, not a circus’ – Martin hits out at fan over mass crash
We all just need to accept the fact of fans coming a bit too close to the line - and very occasionally stepping over it - needs to be regarded in the same way we do pave and precipitation. They are features of the sport, not bugs, and while they mostly add to spectacle they do sometimes bring bad luck.
And considering the number of professional bike races that take place each year, the millions of people that stand in similar positions, things like this really don’t happen very often, do they?
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