Senior officials from the organization of the Tour de France were seen dragging climate change protesters into a ditch during the tenth stage of this year’s Morzine to Megève Altiport race.
Although tied around the neck, a small group of young protesters were dragged from the circuit by tour officials. With about 36 kilometers to go, protesters took to the track on a stretch of straight road and lit red flares. The stage breakaway and the peloton were both held up until the road was cleared.
Climate activists from the Derniere renovation movement said: “With the government not taking care of the climate crisis, we must come and take over the Tour de France to bring attention back to what is important to our survival. We need to get our government to react when they lead us to the slaughterhouse. Nonviolent disruption is our last chance to be heard and avoid the worst effects of global warming,” the group said.
Tour organizers, ASO, declined to comment on the protest. Sir Bradley Wiggins commented on the scene on a motorcycle in the race, telling Eurosport viewers: “It really took off. It was pretty crazy.
“A lot of people got pretty angry, some of the sporting directors got out of the cars and put a boot in it.”
The group Derniere Renovation was responsible for a disruption in French Open tennis when a protester jumped onto the court and tied herself to the net with a T-shirt that read ‘We have 1,028 days left’. At the tour protest, they wore t-shirts that read, “We have 989 days left.”
The Tour has long been the target of protests, but this has come as race organizers pledged to reduce their carbon footprint. This year’s ‘roadbook’, the handbook given to everyone involved in the race, states that the Tour is ‘decidedly committed to being an increasingly environmentally conscious organisation’.
In 2020, during the Pandemic Tour, the race drew criticism from recently elected “green” mayors in some of France’s biggest cities. Lyon Mayor Gregory Doucet described the Tour as “macho and polluting” and unconscious of the environment, and there were several calls for further reductions in the race’s carbon footprint.
The final outcome of the race itself was called into question when race director Tadej Pogacar’s UAE Emirates team was hit by two positive Covid-19 tests, just 48 hours after all riders in the peloton had been tested and declared free of the virus were.
George Bennett, one of the defending champions’ key mountain support riders, and his teammate Rafal Majka tested positive in Morzine on Tuesday morning. Bennett retired from the race while Majka was allowed to continue the race as he was asymptomatic. On Saturday, another Pogacar team, Vegard Stake Laengen, also tested positive and withdrew. The team of eight that Pogacar started with in Copenhagen is now reduced to six with Majka’s continuation uncertain.
“As per our internal protocols, Majka has been tested for Covid-19 and has returned a positive result this morning,” the UAE Emirates team said in a statement. “He’s asymptomatic and analyzing his PCR, [we] found he had a very low risk of infection, similar to the case of Bob Jungels (the AG2R Citroen driver who tested positive in Copenhagen) earlier in the race.”
Australian Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) also tested positive and was withdrawn from the race. The ASO requested that media access be restricted to the team buses or paddock, saying that “only UCI representatives (jury, commissaires, anti-doping), the teams’ staff and the organization’s staff supervising the teams have access to the paddock.” Media access to the finish lines will remain unchanged.
Magnus Cort Nielsen (EF Education-EasyPost) won the stage in a photo finish by Nicholas Schultz, a teammate of the absent Durbridge. Bora Hansgrohe’s Lennard Kamna, one of the day’s breakaways, moved to within 11 seconds of race leader Pogacar but is expected to fall back over the next 48 hours, which includes summit finishes at Alpe d’Huez and the Col du Granon .