Outside the Team Sky bus the morning after the Alpe d’Huez stage, it was clear the riders and the team hadn’t enjoyed the previous day as much as the fans.

With two climbs through some of the biggest crowds the Tour de France has ever seen, the riders spent most of the latter parts of the stage riding through a sea of people, with the close encounters.

“The crowds spoiled the stage a bit,” said team boss Sir Dave Brailsford. “Froomey got hit in the face with a high pressure water-pistol, he got slapped a bit, the whole team were getting hit by people on the climbs.”

“The lads didn’t really enjoy having to ride through it twice. There were just far, far too many people on the road.”

Shane Sutton, Sir Bradley Wiggin’s coach for the Tour last year who arrived on the race on Thursday, agreed: “Yesterday was a stupid stage – once up the climb would have given you the same result.”

“If you look at the demands they’re putting on people, in a sport that’s becoming cleaner, you think how the hell are these guys doing what they’re doing. Sometimes what they’re asked to do is borderline impossible.”

Geraint Thomas tweeted after the stage ‘Well that was insane! Thanks for the support. However please DON’T push me on my lower back! #painful’

Related links

Tour de France 2013: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index