Fans with selfie sticks creating 'dangerous' and 'crazy' start to Giro d'Italia, say riders

Riders appeal to fans to stay out of the road

Crowds at the side of the road at the 2017 Giro d'Italia (Credit: Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

The roads, fans and swinging selfie sticks are causing crashes and making for a "crazy" and "dangerous" start to the 100th Giro d'Italia according to riders.

"There are many fans on the road," said Vincenzo Nibali's Bahrain-Merida team-mate Franco Pellizotti. "It's not the first time we've seen fans with selfie sticks with their backs to the group. That's dangerous.

"If they see you coming, they move, but with their backs to the group they don't see you. It's dangerous and you have to be attentive."

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Italian Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) posted a photograph on Twitter showing a bandage covering an injury due to a selfie-stick-wielding fan.

"It's crazy I don't know how I didn't crash," Sbaragli said. "Please respect us is not a video game."

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Movistar's Rory Sutherland crashed in the final kilometres of yesterday's stage, an incident which he says was caused by fans on the road.

"Selfie sticks, that's the new thing, people want to take photos with the cyclists," Sutherland said.

"The beauty of cycling is that you can get close to the athletes, but it becomes too much when it's to the point that you are actually touching them."

Sutherland must protect Colombian team-mate Nairo Quintana who is chasing a second Giro d'Italia title, but is riding today with gauze wrapped around his right arm covered the damage of yesterday's crash in Messina.

Watch: Giro d'Italia stage five highlights

"The roads in Sicily, the roads were terrible yesterday. They were really bad," continued Sutherland.

"I crashed getting out of the way, getting out of all the drama, but another rider took out my front wheel and ended up on the dirt.

"It's great to see all the support of people here and in Sicily, but at the same time, we are riding at 60 or 70kmh and people are trying to lean in and look, making the gap that we have smaller and smaller."

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"Above all, it seems like there are many people on the roads" Pellizotti added.

"With the Messina finish, you could sense the fans' passion. The roads are narrow and the people want to be close to see, but they need to be attentive because if we hit them, then it's a problem for both of us."

Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) won the stage in Messina yesterday, with team-mate and pink jersey wearer Bob Jungels saying he was glad to have survived the stage.

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"It was a dangerous and crazy final," Jungels said. "I'm super happy that Fernando [Gaviria] took the victory, but it cost me a lot of nerves.

"It was amazing to see so many people on the streets, but it's sometimes very dangerous because people want to take the pictures and selfies and whatever, and they come closer and closer to the road."

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.