A day of surprises on the Tour de France - too many selfies are affecting cyclists

Selfies at the Tour: Support has been overwhelming but also dangerous for the riders.

Selfies at the Tour: Support has been overwhelming but also dangerous for the riders.

HARROGATE: We have heard all year in the build-up to the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire about how strong the support will be for the early stages. But I wasn't prepared for the size of the crowds that we saw on stage one.

Include in that how little prepared I was to see Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge among those who came out to watch the Tour kick off in Leeds.

It's not every day you get to stand with the royals. And standing behind this happy couple for an official photograph with the peloton at the start was a moment to remember, even if I was a little away from them in the second row.

But as the entire day unfolded, discovering the real size of the crowd was another highlight.

The number of people was at a level you don’t experience at a normal Test. Many of the riders were saying they had never raced before such masses of people, especially climbing up the Cote de Buttertubs midway into the stage.

However, at the same time, with the crowd 10 deep in places, it was dangerous at times with so many people taking selfies getting in our path.

While it was not the result of unruly or dangerous crowd behaviour, it was sad to see Australian champion Simon Gerrans crash, and realise the consequences of his crash.

Not only did the spill rob him of a crack at the win, it may cost him in future stages.

It will be interesting to see how Gerrans improves in coming days from his injuries. The Orica-GreenEDGE rider would have been suited perfectly for stages such as Sunday’s second stage in Yorkshire.

But that Gerrans was able to pick himself up and so quickly declare that he was okay to continue on in the Tour – notwithstanding the inevitable soreness he will feel from his abrasions and damaged ligaments – is a measure of the man.

That incident and the near-misses during the stage reminded me of the hazards and unpredictability of racing a stage that many found harder than expected.

However, another incident several hours later – after having eaten dinner – reminded me of the challenges we face on the Tour that aren’t always within the frame of competition.

The incident being when myself and my roommate, the defending Tour champion Chris Froome, tried to be a little too smart returning to our room after dinner.

We opted to take the long away around from the dining room that required us to go outside to avoid the mass of people in the hotel reception area – believing that doing so would also be quicker.

But we instead found ourselves stuck outside as the entrance we needed to go through was closed, which wasn't too bad at first. In fact, it was kind of nice with the calm outside in the hotel ground; but the novelty of that soon wore off.

Fortunately, our calls were heard before darkness and a chill set in, and the hotel entrance was opened again.

And just as suddenly we were back in our rooms and into the routine of post-race recovery once more.

- Richie Porte rides for the Sky Team

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