The Pinot corner, the Tour de France will probably never experience that again. But the observation is there: the fervor around the Grande Boucle is palpable close to the runners, that’s even what makes it so charming. A particularity that should be channeled. After several incidents during the last edition, the organizers will deploy more ropes in the passes in 2024 to contain a young and energized public, announces the director of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme.
“Ropes have existed for a very long time, we are going to multiply them. This is the price of success,” explained the Tour boss on the sidelines of Wednesday’s presentation of the 2024 route. During the last edition, riders were delayed in several mountain stages by motorcycles or following cars, they -the same blocked by “a very enthusiastic public, but less aware of the rules necessary for security”, according to Christian Prudhomme.
The answer will not come from the police
“These young groups come largely to share a moment of happiness. They are full of enthusiasm, it’s magnificent, but a little less disciplined. So we have to adapt,” he emphasizes. This first involves “more ropes”, “less intrusive than the barriers”, especially at the top of the passes where there are bonuses to be found. “If you give bonus points, the last 300, 400 or 500 meters must be protected so that the champions can really sprint.”
To ensure that these ropes remain in place, the Tour organizers intend to mobilize additional staff. “We will not have more state services. The 28,000 police officers, gendarmes and firefighters, we will not have more. It could be volunteers, people from clubs, people from our area [de la société organisatrice ASO]private security,” he says.
A “super pool” to prevent motorcycles from disrupting intermediate sprints
“This also requires enormous communication work, particularly through social networks,” adds Mr. Prudhomme, who also thinks of the smoke bombs which “astound” him. “I cannot understand why we leave smoke bombs when we know very well that an athlete in full effort can no longer breathe and finds himself confronted with a wall without any visibility. It is not possible. Let them move away. If they are 15 meters from the side of the road, there is no problem. »
Concerning the motorcycles, which had notably prevented Tadej Pogacar from attacking at the top of the Col de Joux Plane this year, the Tour also plans to set up a “super pool in the most delicate situations” where there will be no “that the motorcycle from live TV. It seems absolutely obvious to me. The management of the race column must evolve. The race is getting faster and faster and the big teams are no longer leaving a gap with the breakaways. »