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Since When Did The Tour de France Become A Marathon?

Australian Richie Porte has hit out at "out-of-control" spectators who jam the path of Tour de France riders and caused a pile-up on the 12th stage involving him and defending champion Chris Froome.

The BMC Racing rider, who was leading Froome and Dutchman Bauke Mollema, crashed into a TV motorbike that was held up by the crowd on the road on Thursday, with Froome and Mollema joining the pile-up.

Froome's bike was broken but at the end of the day he got to keep his leader's yellow jersey after the race jury ruled he would be credited with the same time as the two riders he was with when the pile-up occurred.

The incident happened close to the finish and Froome, of Team Sky, began running up the slopes of the Mont Ventoux before grabbing a service bike which did not work.

The Briton was then given a spare Team Sky bike on which he completed the 178km stage, losing over a minute to his main rivals.

Porte, who lost time because he required a wheel change, said there should have been barriers to keep spectators out of the line of racing.

"The crowd was all over the road and the motorbike just stopped right in front of us and we had nowhere to go but straight over the top of the motorbike. It was just a mess. Froome was on my wheel and was straight into me."

Porte, who will be examined by the BMC Racing medical team, said he was sore after the crash and Friday was another crucial stage but it remained to be seen how well he would pull up.

"It's already out of control. I agree that you come to the race, you have a good time but you don't need to be running beside the riders, you don't need to be hitting riders, pushing riders.

"Things have got to change and I can't believe there weren't barriers there," Porte said.

"We love the fans and 99 per cent of them are brilliant but why do some of them need to take their selfies and run along beside us? There's passion and there's stupidity and it's not such a fine line between them.

"Surely the jury has to look at it and use some sort of discretion. If you can't control the crowds what can you control?"

Porte is now 11th place overall, two minutes and 22 seconds off the pace. The overall lead was first handed to Briton Adam Yates (Orica-Bike Exchange) before the standings were updated and Froome was handed the yellow jersey on the podium.

"Chris Froome and Richie Porte have been given the same time as Bauke Mollema due to the incident in the finale. Froome retains the yellow jersey," organisers said in a statement.

Belgian Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) won the 12th stage with his compatriot Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) coming second ahead of Spain's Dani Navarro (Cofidis).

Yates now trails Froome by 47 seconds in second place overall. Froome's main rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) of Colombia is third, 54 seconds behind, with fourth-placed Mollema 56 seconds off the pace.

AAP

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