UCI president Brian Cookson urges roadside fans to behave themselves during cycling events, after incidents of riders being spat at and punched during Tour de France

Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) president Brian Cookson has condemned the behaviour of some fans during this year’s Tour de France, branding their actions as ‘hooliganism’.

There were several reported incidents of riders being spat at by spectators, with Tour winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) at one point being dowsed with urine. Sky’s Richie Porte also said he was punched by a spectator on stage 10 of the race.

“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,” Cookson told news agency AFP while at the International Olympic Committee meetings in Kuala Lumpur this week.

Many believed the negative actions committed against riders, and in particular those in Team Sky, were as a result of comments made in the French media. Froome was subjected to questions and insinuations that he was doping to achieve his result – which he strenuously denied, and Sky took steps to publish his power data to prove his performances were credible.

>>> Team Sky car hit and heckled by fans as it goes up Alpe d’Huez (video)

Several videos shot during the 2015 Tour show spectators clearly spitting in Froome’s face, and the atmosphere on Alpe d’Huez on the final stage turned hostile as one of the Sky team cars was hit, covered in drink and pelted with objects.

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

“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.”

Although there is a limit to what race organiser ASO can do to restrict the behaviour of fans, Cookson asked spectators to be respectful to those taking part.

“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.”

A video published ahead of the 2015 Tour by ASO featured a number of leading riders asking fans to ‘respect the Tour’, and keep back from riders on crowded roads such as Alpe d’Huez to prevent incidents or injuries to both riders and fans alike.

Video: Best of the 2015 Tour de France

  • Arturo Sanchez

    Let the riders arm themselves xD In all seriousness…I love the sport and if I could be that close to these amazing people the last thing I would do is run beside them, scream at them or throw stuff on the road.

  • RobTM

    it would actually be a public safety issue, impairing the drivers vision when passing through a narrow corridor of people

  • RobTM

    I guess it’s easier said than done. A “snatch” van could easily disrupt the race on the mountain roads, and a single officer trying to make an arrest out of a drunk mob could get nasty, very quickly. Do arrests actually deter people? I’ve seen plenty of film of people attempting to battle with tooled up riot police, who appear to lose it themselves and commit assaults.
    Finally for what offences? Gestures and insults like “Doper” are hardly criminal. Arrests on TV may actually attract protesters who want publicity and more people running in front of the (fast moving) peleton.

  • David Chadderton

    Nothing new though. Fans always fill the roads. I would hate to have to ride (race) straight into walls of people. Scary. What if fans slip, make a very small mistake, or do not move out of my way? Disaster for the Tour, or any cycle ride.

  • Roger

    Surely this is as much a job for the French police and judiciary as for ASO and the UCI.

  • Mike Blaszczak

    Did you watch the same video as everyone else, Russel? Pouring water (and what else?) over the car, pounding on the car, crowding riders — it’s not “fine”, and endangers the sport.

  • dourscot

    Not really – loads of Dutch-looking people spat at Team Sky cars. The people there are as much a part of the problem as anywhere else.

    It’s all a sort of witch hunt hysteria drummed up by French media to gloss over their failure (yet again) to win their own biggest sporting event.

  • dourscot

    There are not repercussions – people can use the Tour to abuse sportsmen and women and simply get away with it.

    The ASO and UCI need to start taking rider safety seriously.

  • Mark

    I am from Kuala Lumpur

  • Stevie

    There is a video posted above from Dutch corner in which people are spitting and throwing various liquids onto sky’s team car as they pass through. Haven’t seen anything from riders about incidents involving them on Dutch corner, but its still not welcome behaviour.

  • Russell Ellis

    John … Dutch corner was fine, these incidents happened at other climbs in the race. The atmosphere on Dutch corner was one of friendly passionate supporters who were there to fully support all the riders.

  • John Westwell

    Unfortunately, the only way to stop this is for some people to be arrested. Certainly when I used to watch the Tour, there were lots of gendarmes stationed on the climbs at fairly regular intervals. Why do they not arrest fans who are obviously engaged in hooligan behaviour? They are quick enough to stop people riding up the climbs two hours before the race is due. And surely everyone knew that there would be problems at Dutch corner.