Professional road cycling is one of the few sports where, in many cases, there is no boundary between the spectator and the athletes.
Stage races like the Tour de France stretch for thousands of miles, with the prospect of placing barriers along the entire route neither possible nor feasible. Fans are expected to behave and allow sufficient room for the riders to maneuver the road when the peloton passes, but this is not always the case.
Supporters become anxious waiting for the riders to come through and have been known to stray too close to the action, causing disruptions and, in some cases, wrecks. Riders have grown accustomed to drunk men in costume running alongside their bikes on steep climbs, but now claim they’re facing a new, more dangerous threat: selfies.
American rider Tejay van Garderen took to Twitter on Sunday to sound the alarm about the troubling new trend. The Telegraph's Tom Cary (h/t Nina Mandell of For The Win) spotted the tweets from the 25-year-old BMC cyclist, who says spectators taking selfies at the 2014 Tour de France are becoming an issue.
Van Garderen isn’t the only rider concerned with people stepping out blindly into the road with their backs to the action. Hugh Langley of TechRadar.com reports that Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas is another of the cyclists speaking out against the practice.
“It’s the new pain in the arse,” Thomas said. “I think people need to realize we take up the whole road. If you want to go and do that, go sit in a tree…people don’t understand how fast we’re going and how close we get.”
Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara tweeted out a less direct message on Saturday, urging the media to tell fans to stand back.
To explain why selfies are dangerous in a bike racing scenario, I give you these images. All spectators get close, but most don't turn their backs to men speeding at them.
That’s only a winning formula if you’re hoping for a broken collarbone, and the most unfortunate part is, racers will almost certainly receive the worst of it should they collide with a fan.
The third stage of the Tour is currently wrapping up in London, England, where more barriers are in place for the competition. Fortunately, no one appears to have shattered a pelvis due to selfie-related idiocy.
With that being said, there are plenty of stages left in this race, so there's a lot of time for things to devolve into trendy, dangerous mayhem.
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