A fan saved Tyler Farrar’s Tour Down Under by offering not only his bike, but his shoes, so that the American could continue after a nasty crash in the third stage to Campbelltown, Australia.
The helping hand is against the rules, as Richie Porte knows from his Giro d’Italia experience, but the governing body made an exception in this case.
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The Dimension Data cyclist, who is expected to lead out Mark Cavendish later in the year, finished the stage third from last, 13-07 minutes behind stage winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).
“Without his help, I would’ve travelled all the way to Australia for only two and a half days of racing,” Farrar told Het Nieuwsblad.
“This shows how friendly the people are here in Australia. We will give him a full kit to say thanks, and if we don’t have a spare kit, I’ll give him one of mine.”
Watch highlights from stage three of the Tour Down Under
Farrar fell with others before the final Corkscrew climb when the speed was near 70kph going through a narrow canyon. He returned to his feet despite scrapes and scratches all over his body.
The Dimension Data’s mechanic gave his bike a quick check and then jumped in the team car that sped ahead to the sharp end of the race.
Once Farrar began riding, however, his problems continued. His rear derailleur was smashed and would not allow him to continue the final 10km.
“There were one or two fans on the side of the road, they asked me how big I am and soon I had one of their bikes!” Farrar said. “But I had different cleats, so I had to take his shoes as well. Luckily, we had the same size.
“I’ve been professional for 14 years, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen this.”
The fan rode to the finish in the organisation’s broom wagon to retrieve his shoes and De Rosa bike from Farrar. The Advertiser reported that he was from New Zealander Anthony Tooman, on a trip to Australia to see the WorldTour stage race.
The story did not end there. Farrar faced a possible two-minute penalty like Porte, who in a desperate attempt to save Sky’s Giro d’Italia bid last year, accepted the front wheel from rival cyclist Simon Clarke (then with team Orica). The rules say that you may only receive help from your team, not from anyone else. Because this good deed was not at the sharp end of the race, the jury could easily rule otherwise today.
Organisers later released a statement saying: “Race officials have confirmed Farrar will be allowed to continue the race as an exception to the rule because a bad crash with several other riders involved created a hectic situation which meant neither his team car nor the event’s neutral service vehicle was in a position to provide assistance.
“This ruling respects the spirit of the sport and considers the rather exceptional circumstances in which this occurred.
“In normal circumstances accepting outside assistance such as Farrar did today would result in his disqualification from the race.”
This is not the first time a fan helped a rider in the Tour Down Under. In 2002, Michael Rogers was involved in a crash with a motorbike and took a fan’s bike to not only finish the stage, but to win the overall.