As Richie Porte reflected on the horror crash that ended his Tour de France, a growing band of cycling observers are suggesting race organisers are partly to blame.
Tour of Tasmania race director and multiple Australian cycling champion John Trevorrow was commentating on the Tour and believes the treacherous and technical descent of Mont du Chat played a major role in the accident that left Porte with a fractured collarbone and hip and extensive abrasions.
“Everybody, the riders certainly no exception, knew there was potential for chaos, and I believe it was avoidable,” Trevorrow said.
“[Tour organiser] ASO certainly should have a major rethink about the use of such risky routes.
“What they should have done was finish the stage at the top of Mont du Chat without subjecting the riders to the perils of the charge downhill. Then they would have had an unforgettable stage for all the right reasons instead of what they got – an unforgettable finish for the wrong reasons.”
Trevorrow’s comments echoed those of many observers including Porte himself, who had voiced concerns about the Tour’s downhill finishes on mountain stages.
Compatriot and multiple Tour stage winner Robbie McEwen said on the SBS commentary: “Mont du Chat has not been used in the Tour since 1974, presumably because the descent is so difficult. We know it is dangerous – there is a reason it hasn’t been used for a long time.”
Dan Martin, the rival also taken down in Porte’s 70km/h crash, said: “I guess the organisers got what they wanted. We take risks but for sure the route didn’t help.”
And Porte’s fellow Tasmanian Wes Sulzberger, who rode the Tour de France in 2010 during a six-year WorldTour career, also slammed the highly challenging 181.5km stage from Nantua to Chambery which sent the field over seven major climbs before the tight descent on wet roads.
They want excitement and entertainment but at what cost?Wes Sulzberger
“They want excitement and entertainment but at what cost?” he said.
Asked if he thought the course contributed to the accident, Sulzberger said: “I think so because it could have resulted in a casualty. This could have been a lot worse. If Richie had gone off the inside and down a ravine it could have been a different story. Richie was not the only one who crashed. He was very fortunate and so were a lot of other riders. I think they will have to review it after this.”
Trevorrow said the only consolation from the saga was that Porte was “alive and able to tell the tale”.
The cycling veteran said the crash was “one of the scariest in the great race’s history” but “could have been much worse”.
Writing on sportshounds.com.au, Trevorrow added: “Porte was far from the only rider to come to grief on the highly challenging trip through the mountains and the Tour organisers ASO can expect to come in for plenty of flak because of it.”
”It is anybody’s guess how damaging the experience will be for his confidence in future.”