The Washington Post

Olympic cycling road race fans cause crashes, danger for riders

Generally when cyclist comes barreling down a straight away toward a person standing in the road, that person will attempt to get out of the way. But apparently a few of the fans at Saturday’s Olympic men’s road race neglected to study their Tour de France fan guides.

(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

(Granted, the Tour de France had its own spectator sabotage incident earlier this month when someone littered a section of the course with tacks, causing numerous flat tires.)

Fans packed the sides of the 155-mile course — which did not require tickets — to catch of glimpse of favorite Mark Cavendish, Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins and the rest of Britain’s star-studded team. But while the excitement and cheering may have helped inspire the riders, the sheer volume of people crowding the narrow roadways created some serious problems.

Just how scary was it?

The Post’s Rick Maese caught up American Chris Horner after the race who was still trying to process the scene.

“It was insane, but to a degree where it was absolutely probably the most dangerous and crazy race I’ve ever done. For sure. The crowds were unbelievable and the course was so narrow.

“I saw one rider just before we got on the circuit. This guy’s taking a picture two feet out in the road. He didn’t jump out of the way. The rider smacked him hard. He went through the middle of the field and crashed 15-20 people. The spectator went flying into the crowd – literally, flew into the crowd — and took out some more people.

“It was absolutely the scariest I have ever been in a bike race.”

In the end, Britain walked away empty-handed.

Kazakhstan’s Alexander Vinokourov won gold with a time of 5 hours 45 minutes 57 seconds. Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran, who finished less than a second back, took silver, and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff claimed the bronze, finishing in 5:46:05. American Taylor Phinney finished just behind Kristoff in fourth.


Live blog: follow all the action from Saturday’s events

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Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.

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Matt Brooks · July 28, 2012