Tour de France on circuits or charging for mountain spots - Jumbo-Visma boss’s answers to fan collisions

Richard Plugge says the number of fans causing crashes is “getting worse every year”.

Sepp Kuss rides through a throng of fans at the Tour de France 2023
Sepp Kuss rides through a throng of fans at the Tour de France 2023
(Image credit: David Ramos / Getty)

Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge has called for “solution” to the problem of fans getting too close to the riders at the Tour de France and causing crashes because it is “getting worse every year”.

Key lieutenant to the team’s yellow jersey wearer Sepp Kuss was brought down by a fan on a high-speed stretch of road on stage 15 of the race. There was then a cascade through the bunch that saw multiple riders hit the tarmac.

While Kuss, and his team-mate Nathan van Hooydonck were able to continue, Plugge was unhappy with the result.

He said: “The team’s performance today was very much influenced by the spectator that made Sepp Kuss crash and then the other riders crash. That’s a big problem because it influences the course of the Tour de France. It hurts our tactics, others’ tactics and it hurts people.”

He added: “Sepp had to drop at the end and that’s not normal. Normally he can follow so that was due to this crash at the beginning.”

He pointed to the crash that also involved a spectator earlier in the race and resulted in Steff Crass of TotalEnergies having to abandon. “We should find a solution... because it’s getting worse every year,” he said.

Asked what that should look like Plugge had a few suggestions: “It’s really difficult. We discussed earlier with the organisers [of the Tour de France] doing something like in the Tour of Flanders where you have loops of 20km or 30km, it’s less nice but you can fence it off. 

“Maybe you should ask for €10 to go on the mountain because yesterday on Col de Joux Plane was really hectic as well. Maybe you should ask for €10 and you get it back when you come down if nothing happens.

He said that would ensure that the “real fans” of the sport, ones who were “are respectful to the riders”, were the ones at the roadside and not the “drunk” fans that had been atop the Col de Joux Plane.

“People will not come up the mountain if they think ‘well I don’t like the sport but I can stand there and drink beer,’” he said.

He also suggested that charging deposits on drinks bottles might help as they can roll under riders wheels and cause crashes and charges might give a financial incentive for spectators to keep them safer. 

Plugge was unsure who held the most responsibility for implementing a solution to the issue but said: “The person [who caused the crash] if he calls us and says ‘I’m really sorry for what I did’ that'd be ok because it’s not really about punishment it’s about realising what you are doing. Have more respect for the riders.”

Kuss himself was more sanguine about the situation saying that it was “part of” the Tour de France.

“Ideally it wouldn't happen,” he said at the finish atop Saint Gervais Mont Blanc. “But it's the biggest bike race in the world and a lot of people don't know exactly what's going on. Luckily I'm ok, and hopefully Nathan is also fine.

“Luckily, the adrenaline got me through the day. It's inconvenient, but it could always be worse, and I still felt pretty good on the bike.”

Plugge, who hadn’t spoken to Kuss at the time of speaking to Cycling Weekly, wants to ensure none of his riders have to thank such luck again.

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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.