Amateur photographers, people in fancy dress and dogs all add to the free, side-of-the-road festival atmosphere of a pro bike race. But sometimes it goes a little bit wrong

Ah, bike race spectating. What fun. Standing by the side of the road all day to watch the peloton flash by is a surprisingly good way to spend your time. But sometimes the fans at the side of the road take things a little too far, or get things a bit wrong.

Here’s our pick of the most outrageous cycling fan fails.

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1. Giuseppe Guerini floored on Alpe d’Huez

Picture the scene. You’re on Alpe d’Huez, inside the final kilometres and the race is speeding towards you. You’ve got your brand new compact digital camera in your hand and that baby is packing a million pixels in to that one inch, barely visible square screen on the back. Nothing’s going to stop you getting the best picture ever taken at a bike race. This is your big moment.

There’s a lone rider coming towards you, so you step out in to the road with everyone else and raise your camera to your face. You’ve seen all the photographers on TV do it, how hard can it be?

Here he comes. Don’t panic, he’s miles away. Everyone then kindly steps out of the way just so you can get the picture. Hold steady…….. wait for it……. Don’t worry, the camera will auto focus….. not yet…. BANG! What the ….?

2. Gendarme in Armentiéres

Did Gendarmes really stand in the road in the finishing straight at the Tour de France? Yes, incredibly, they did. This crash is still too gruesome to poke fun of, but it has to go in our countdown.

3. GW Photoguy

It’s the haircut that really gets me. Social media went mad when ‘GW Photoguy‘ lay down on his back in front of the speeding Ghent-Wevelgem peloton with camera in hand. It was an incredibly stupid decision. But not half as stupid as the decision to go for an undercut WITH bleached highlights. And as for that jacket……..

Ghent-Wevelgem

The Ghent-Wevelgem guy (Watson)

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4. Contador punch!

The greatest grand tour rider of a generation, the man who single-handedly slapped down Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel in 2009, the saviour of Spanish cycling. No. Alberto Contador should always be remembered for the best back-handed punch ever delivered in a bike race.

The little Spanish climber was losing the 2011 Tour de France to Cadel Evans when the race was going up Alpe d’Huez, so perhaps he didn’t see the funny side of a fan, dressed as a surgeon, running alongside him offering a blood bag. He didn’t do that kind of thing. (Anymore, ahem.)

It is truly one of the great things about the sport that a rider can go round punching people in the face and there be no recriminations, fines or time penalties issued afterwards. I was a bit surprised that Contador’s arm didn’t snap on impact, but there you go.

5. Armstrong versus a kid with bag

Throughout seven drug-fuelled years of domination nothing came close to stopping Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France. Except for a seven year old kid with a yellow mussette. That kid hasn’t paid for a drink since. And neither should he. Chapeau.

GWs Archive 2003

Credit: Graham Watson

6. Italian man out for a walk

This unlucky chap just popped out for a nice little walk down the road when a bloomin’ bike race selfishly pushed him to the edge of the road. And then off the edge of the road. Note how everyone leaps to his rescue. or not.

7. Gilbert confronts the guiltiest looking dog in the world

Philippe Gilbert confronts dog owner, Tour de France 2012, stage 18

Philippe Gilbert confronts dog owner, Tour de France 2012, stage 18 (Watson)

Dogs and bike races don’t go together, we all know that. But we just can’t leave our four legged friends at home on their own, can we? Perhaps a few more people could stretch to putting their dogs on leads and tying them to something solid.

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Having said that, this dog is so big they could have tied it to a truck and he would have just dragged it along behind him. Best thing about this is the guilty look on the dog’s face when Philippe Gilbert confronts it. Had the dog bared it’s teeth Gilbert would have run a mile

8. Groping Dutchman

A lot of these incidents are quite funny, whereas this one has a slightly more sinister tone to it.

This ‘over enthusiastic’ Dutch fan claims it was an accident, but no matter how many times we watch this video we still think it looks deliberate. His hand movement changes from a fist pump to something else when the riders approach. I guess we’ll never know.

9. Voeckler throws his toys out of the pram. Again.

The exploits of Thomas Voeckler used to be cycling gold. Now they’re getting a bit boring as you sense the Frenchman is becoming a parody of his old self in a bid to remain relevant. Perhaps getting boo’d by drunk fans at the side of the road does get tiring after a few years. Still, stopping mid race to tell someone off seems a little strange. Even by Voeckler’s standards.

10. Fan versus Fan Alpe d’Huez takedown

Riders absolutely love it when a drunk spectator in fancy dress runs alongside them shouting incomprehensible words of encouragement. Really they do. So why the hell would another fan get so upset by such chucklesome tomfoolery? This guy in blue did.

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Afterwards the running man confronts his assailant and what ensues can only be described as the most pathetic fight ever witnessed on French territory.

And there’s more! No sooner had we published this story than we remembered a few more classic moments from bike races. So forgetting the headline for a minute we’re taking this up to 14.

11. McEwen loses his bottle

Sprinters are fiery by nature, and few were more fiery than the little Aussie pocket rocket, Robbie McEwen. In this video he almost takes the arm off a fan who grabs for his bidon as he rides past. Now, we may be wrong here, but it looks like two fans grab for the bottle and McEwen bravely decides to confront the smaller of the two. #justsaying

12. Hi Mum, I’m on the telly!

No doubt about it, mobile phones are the best thing that have ever happened to pro bike racing.

For the last century the sport has been waiting for the arrival of technology that allows fans to stand there, ignore the riders and take selfies or ring home to say “I’m at a bike race!” Bike riders need to understand how important this is and kindly ride around fans taking up space in the road when doing this. Even those wearing the yellow jersey.

13. Irish selfie scandal

This was the picture that stole the show during the Giro d’Italia‘s visit to Northern Ireland last year. The photographer, a local yoof with no idea of what a bike race is, snapped a selfie with Marcel Kittel just after a crash. And the internet went mad.

David McCarthy's selfie with Marcel Kittel

David McCarthy’s selfie with Marcel Kittel

Only Kittel hadn’t crashed, and this wasn’t a local kid taking the p***. David McArthy, who rode for the Nicholas Roche Performance team, was the fan and Kittel was sat on the ground, after the finish, catching his breath.

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After the Twitter storm McCarthy apologised saying it was neither the time or the place for a photograph, and Marcel Kittel himself didn’t seem too worried, Tweeting; “Guess you learned your lesson. So did I when my Grandma found me playing with fireworks next to our barn full with dry hay. Oh and remember: social media can be mean… ;)”

14. Atapuma’s puma

There can be no better feeling as an eccentric roadside fan than when your favourite rider is out on a solo break on one of biggest mountain stages of the race.

In this case, Darwin Atapuma of BMC was attempting to solo to a glorious victory on stage 14 of the 2016 Giro d’Italia when one superfan took the chance to get up close and cheer him on.

Needless to say, in the chaos and narrow road through the crowds, things didn’t quite go right for the puma superfan as the motorbike behind gently knocks him off balance right as he’s getting in to the swing of things.

A face first tumble ensues and to make things worse, the Colombian rider fell short in search of his stage win.

  • I posted that comment a year ago when this article was first posted online. Now it’s been re-issued with a more recent date and the mention of the Nicholas Roche Performance team has been added in since. It definitely wasn’t there last year.
    There’s evidence of that in the way they immediately follow “local yoof with no idea of what a bike race is” with “[he] rode for the Nicholas Roche Performance team” – not a small contradiction in any way?!

  • John Ryder

    Hmmm. Probably should have finished reading the article.

  • John Ryder

    Chapeau for causing Armstrong to crash ? Since when did us cyclists take pleasure in seeing someone crash, regardless of your thoughts on the American. Your once proud and excellent publications standards have fallen dramatically.

  • ridein

    What about the fans who want to steal their bike or computer after a race crash?

  • Tea_Addict

    ‘moment of stupidity’? You make it sound like he pushed Kittel off of his bike. He did absolutely nothing wrong – if anyone should be ashamed it’s the hyperventilating Internet outrage junkies.

  • blair houghton

    how about some time cues?