The 3 Times Mountain Bikers Stole the Show at the Tour de France

Jul 7, 2015 at 10:53
by Pinkbike Staff  
The Tour de France began in 1903, over seventy years before mountain biking's pioneers began drifting around corners in Marin County. Steeped in history and controversy, the Tour attracts millions of viewers every year, many who don't follow any other aspects of cycling, or even own a bike for that matter. Perhaps that's what makes it such a prime target for mountain bikers trying to snag a piece of the media coverage pie. Like a streaker running across the outfield during the World Series, every so often a mountain biker creates a splash during the Tour de France, shifting the attention for a brief moment onto the knobby-tired side of cycling. Here are three memorable moments where mountain bikers stole the show, at least for a few minutes.

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2003: Dave Watson's Road Gap
Dave Watson's huck back in 2003 is probably the most notable stunt, captured by the cameras of Freeride Entertainment as he launched over the peloton before getting bucked into the rubble below. He emerged without any major injuries, and earned himself a place in mountain bike history.





2013: Encho Rage Road Gap
The road gap the Encho Rage crew built over the course of several months may not have had as scenic of a back drop as Dave Watson's attempt, but the rider, Romain Marandet, managed to take off just as the race leader rode by in his yellow jersey, landing without incident on the other side of the road.





2014: Wheelie Man
Vincenzo Nibali was the winner of the 2014 Tour de France, but it was the helmetless guy riding a wheelie alongside the racer that pulled viewers' eyes away from the road bikers on the final day of the event. There aren't many details about the mystery rider, but his bike had disc brakes, wide tires and riser bars, so we'll add him to the tally as another mountain biker who shared the screen with the peloton.





134 Comments

  • + 264
 Rock on man! We can argue about industry standards some other time...seeing some dude in a full face launching over a crowd of Lycra stickmen sums up why I ride off road instead of on!
  • + 41
 Watson is a legend
  • + 81
 The secret to peace on PB is a nice road gap
  • + 9
 The secret to MTBing is a nice road gap. Notice at the height of popularity for freeriding, people were consistently hitting the Gillard road gap and the Ord road gap... do I even need to mention the double road gap in Vicious Circle? Case closed. Oh and enjoy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gGFTPF4fyY

www.pinkbike.com/video/51509
  • + 8
 Like a flash mob, only rad.
  • + 22
 "Roads?! Where were going we don't need roads".~ Dr. Emit Brown
  • + 4
 Surprise, surprise. A roadie littering at 3:00 in the Encho Rage gap. Pricks. See them doing it all the time on the roads in the UK.
  • + 7
 I'm sorry you guys don't get to enjoy the pleasures of road riding, as well as mountain biking. It's a blissful balance.
  • + 2
 I prefer natural to man made. My hobby relies not upon intrusive man made infrastructure but on community maintained and eco friendly trails. While others would argue all cycling is of one community, I disagree whole heartedly. To travel over pavement taking in the same sights I see on my way to work or while I'm stuck in traffic, by no means compares to enjoying mountainous terrain in a secluded part of a forest. I prefer dirt to pavement, mountains to buildings, cars to animals, rocks to curbs, trees to telephone poles and so on.
  • + 7
 I meant animals to cars
  • + 4
 Downvote me if you must but I wouldn't mind doing a bit of Road Riding, just for something different and for the undeniable fitness benefits.
  • + 6
 I don't mind the activity. Road riding is fun and speed is intoxicating. I think when roadies are jerks it is just more visible. I meet a lot of nice mountain bikers and a few jerks. I have only met a few roadies, but a surprising number have been rude or arrogant.I don't think it is the sport that is the problem, but rather those who are drawn to it, and they recently have begun mountain biking too.
I think the bar for entry to the snob club is a huge paycheck (as displayed by the carbon with enve components and lots of lycra, even it is a 5 mile ride) and that attracts alphas who are very competitive on the fitness front. The high finance clique comes to mind. Guys who would be golfers, but have recently switched to single track.

In particular we saw a group of guys in park city last week who were rude to the slowest climber in their group. Who invites a guy to go riding just so they can treat him like crap? The answer is uber competitive alphas. Competition is cool when it is the top performers in a group trying to get an edge on each other, but when it is the best riders being bullies to the worst they are just dicks, and that behavior has no place on the hill. We watched them act like dicks, and then saw as every one of them took the easy trail down the mountain.
Bunch of egotistical dicks. We should have invited the other guy to ride with us.
  • + 3
 That seems a pretty reasonable assessment of the current cycling community here in northern Utah. I rode close by a bunch of dick heads up at basin who I believe were cannondale reps taking some Taiwanese manufactures on a tour of what Utah has to offer. They crowded the trail and acted as if they owned the mtn. man they were slow too.
  • + 8
 I admit it - I am a recovering roadie. After hitting fast races, and long marathons (270 miles in one day) I started to ask myself, is this it? Spin and more spin? I was bored with it all. And on top of that, every time I heard a car approaching from the rear, I would find myself wondering, is this the one that is going to kill me? Then I was introduced to mountain biking. Nirvana! The ultimate experience in variety and my fate is what I make of it, not at the hands of a drunken driver. I have never looked back. Time to go hit A-Line. :-)
  • + 180
 Wheelie man was on 26"... Thats all that matters
  • + 34
 26 for life!!
  • - 39
flag tool5150 (Jul 7, 2015 at 13:53) (Below Threshold)
 27.5 is a real mans tire lol
  • + 33
 I think he's a recent graduate of Ryan's 30 day challenge.
  • + 40
 Normally we'd be upset at the lack of a helmet, but hell, doing a wheelie while eyeballing the roadies was priceless.
  • + 19
 The backpack just makes it. For some reason, I picture Belushi doing that wheelie with a smoke hanging out of his mouth.
  • + 3
 Yeah 26 rules
  • + 99
 And its' all done without performance enhancing drugs...
  • + 170
 Wheelie man smokes mad blunts
  • + 3
 Yeah he does^
  • + 63
 Hey, didn't you forget this one? It's a water jump back in 2008 or something.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMgzQUfN8DU
  • + 5
 Yeah ! Thougth the same but it seems it's only known by Frenchies. 2008 yes.
  • + 17
 Not now, that's awesome! Looks like the 2nd guy face planted the 1st bike!
  • + 3
 YEAAAAAAAAAAAAH MAN !!!!!!!! You were faster than me !!! Big Grin
  • + 5
 damn they landed right on each other in the water
  • + 59
 Wheelie guy is my hero.
  • + 12
 what a thug, i like that
  • + 33
 Wheelie man looks like he might indulge in the devils lettuce from time to time.
  • + 21
 Cabbage??
  • + 12
 Kale. Or Swiss Chard.
  • + 16
 I'll road gap The Tour one day.
  • + 1
 that's what I thought when I saw this. but its got to be more original like 3ing it or flipping it
  • + 14
 Cadel Evans was a mountainbike rider and he won the tour. He did it without just looking for attention
  • + 10
 Here's some Sagan doing his thing; www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7WPi3Fo1LQ

At about 2:10 here www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck9PMIsu3ks remember he's doing about 40 km/h when he does this

www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHM6JtEdHp8

He's fun to watch, especially when he's winning stages with a Sprint finish.
  • + 11
 Cool article! There's also the guys jumping with their bikes off a cliff into the water while the peleton passes. Or were those not mtbs?

For me Watson's gap is still the most awesome one.
  • + 18
 if only he had landed it then it would be that much better
  • + 7
 maybe just a little too much rebound
  • + 14
 just like every other old school cliff hucker
  • + 4
 He just got more props, why his post is higher. I was the first commenter here. Not that it matters though Razz
  • + 12
 Great TDF stage today by the way.... Go ahead, neg prop me.
  • + 7
 I remember when a photo of Watson's jump leaked onto the net (this was years before daily edits made up the homepage; a time in which you used all your dial up bandwith rewatching the NWD3 or 4 trailer over and over again) there was a HUGE argument over whether it was real or photoshopped. Computer wiz kids were zooming in to inspect the pixels and stuff. And then BAM! the new NWD came out and we were all stoked.
  • + 10
 All those riders are DOPE!
  • + 3
 I see what you did there. +1.
  • + 6
 We already have this 2015 Tour de France background champion! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--0QAmi6oPM Wink
  • + 7
 Dave's jump (from NWD4) : www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1YlFQVTBuI
  • + 6
 Romain's bike looks like a Session..
  • + 3
 My old man said to me "You have no idea how technical the descents are in tour de france", I had just finished watching Lenzerheide UCI DH, and after that comment from my dad, I wanted to cry.
  • + 4
 Why would anyone take the piss out of the roadies (unless they got there with drugs)? Anyone in the top 0.01th percentile of anything should be applauded.
  • + 1
 Just a small advice when you are around "Coed-Y-Brenin" trail center in Wales. The actual frame of the bike from Dave Watsons TDF jump can be worshiped at the local bike store called "Beics Brenin". Found it in a pure coincidence while on holidays...
  • + 1
 Love the wheelie in 2014....What is with those road guys.....Just ignored him, or what? Why are roadies so stuck up??
When I pass anybody on a mountain bike I get waves and smiles, you pass a road bike and you pretty much get them same as wheelie man.......
  • + 1
 Wheelie guy seems that he wasn't doing this to seek any sort of attention, he appears spontaneous and doing it out of pure excitement and support for the winners of the Tour.... Wheelie Guy is the true essence of a biker in my book!
  • + 3
 And here I thought this was going to be about Peter Sagan, Jakob Fuglsang, or Ryder Hesjedal.
  • + 0
 i don"t think mountain biking will ever hit the level off road racing
the money is just not there
there is to so much more old money pushing road racing
it happens to us all we get older and wiser and mountain biking stars to lose it's appeal
  • + 3
 Thug life wheelie guy !!!
  • + 1
 Dave Watson jump was epic, too bad he didn't land it but the best part was his pants falling down! Guess those Sombrio pants didn't hold up.
  • + 3
 l don't think roadies are pussies. l just think they look funny.
  • + 0
 The lycra outfits confuse me. It's so tight it looks gay, but at the same time it is so ugly and not stylish at all, so can't be gay either.
  • + 2
 Keep your homophobic bigotry out of here.
  • + 4
 It was just a joke. I'm not homofobic. It was stereotyping indeed which could be seen as negative, but at the same time it was also a positive comment about them usually having style and not wearing ugly things. The only reason why I made the joke is because it is positive aswell (all though stereotyping, but stereotyping is something that is generally accepted with jokes, since it makes the person making the joke look dumb).
  • + 2
 Kind of tried to hit a similar type of joke like about Asians being smart for an example. If I would make a joke about that, it is indeed stereotyping and thereby negative, but it doesn't make me a racist or look like I hate Asians. It just makes me look dumb for "thinking" they are all smart.
  • + 3
 It's a purpose-built uniform. On the road, air resistance accounts for anywhere from 70-90% of the resistance felt on a bike. That's huge. Any other sport that needs to fight air resistance has a similar uniform - skiing, speed skating, luge etc.
  • + 2
 Yeah I know indeed Smile The bike i ride most at the moment is my track bike. I do get the aero part, but I don't get why everyone wants to ride those ugly bright, almost glow in the dark shirts, being even more ruined by all the shiny sponsorship logos all over the clothing. I do get why the pros wear it, to support their sponsors, but why all the non-sponsored amateur riders want to ride the exact same clothing ruined by all the logos is a big question to me.
  • + 1
 Bright I get - it keeps you alive in traffic. Sponsor logos - well, it's not for me, but just like any sports, it's to look like the pros, obviously. Not like you can say that's any different in MTB either, be it the TLD Pyjamas or the skinny jeans and flannel shirts.
  • + 1
 What a stupid comment.
  • + 1
 By thatshowiroll
  • + 1
 @kipvr Why don't you try to explain yourself without using block sentences.
  • + 3
 These road gaps are so damn awesome
  • + 3
 Perhaps Peter Sagan needs to teach that dude how to wheelie.
  • + 3
 MTB for the win.
  • + 3
 Wheelie guy for the win
  • + 1
 Did anybody notice the Guy riding the wheelie, barely avoiding disaster @ 0:25
  • + 3
 Encho Rage! Beauty
  • + 8
 mad love for all the hard core riders no matter the disipline!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 I love it when mountain bikers prove that the roadies aren't as hardcore as they think they are tup
  • + 25
 well I will say it, I rather do that road gap than do a grueling 22 day race through the mountains,heat,rain, and whatever else they endure over that 22 days......so does that make me hardcore.....or a pussy!!!!!!!! me thinks the latter!!!!
  • + 3
 so true Smile
  • + 43
 Before you completely write off roadies as being soft or not-as-hardcore as riding DH, watch this huge crash from yesterday in the Tour de France:

i.imgur.com/8oNPhcn.gif

Then consider that Fabian Cancellara (yellow jersey) broke two vertebrae in the pile-up, got back on his bike, and rode the remaining 60 km to finish the stage.

Or that, in the 2002 Giro d'Italia, Tyler Hamilton crashed, broke his shoulder, but finished the race in second, having ground almost a dozen of his teeth to the roots to fight the pain.

I have a lot of respect for elite level roadies. I think they are hardcore on an entirely different level than Lacondeguy, Semeniuk, and Zink.
  • + 0
 Dealing with pain and endurance is much different in the sense of hardcore than dealing with fear and developing aerial and off road skills. Riding 4 to 6 hrs a day for training is hardcore but it's not like you back away from because your afraid, it's because it's boring. Also money is a huge driving force for roadies not so much for mtb
  • + 4
 Well, considering the Road Bike Party and Road Bike Freestyle video series, they can be pretty rad as well.
  • - 8
flag gnrendeiro (Jul 7, 2015 at 12:54) (Below Threshold)
 These guys have more drugs on their system than the horses at the horse races so don't give us crap about what a hardcore sport this is... it is just idiotic. Of course there are some riders that really know how to ride a bike but most of them are just guys who know how to move forward and climb like hell while their on drugs to be able to handle the pain and to get stronger.
  • + 12
 Pretty much any pro sport is drugged up to the gills. Drugs or not, very few bikers have what it takes to go pro, and it takes a whole different set of skills and training...so chill out before knocking other kinds of bikers out there, especially if you think you're more "hardcore" than a pro athlete.
  • + 31
 All forms of biking are awesome.
  • + 2
 I feel like continuing to ride with a broken back is just stupid and reckless not hardcore. Although I suppose he may not have realized his back was broken. I've broken a vertebra in my neck before and it barely hurt at all. Having broken several bones before that, I was fully convinced my neck wasn't broken until I got x-rayed and the doctor corrected me. It didn't hurt anywhere near as much as some of the other bones I've fractured.
  • + 14
 SithBike has it right... There are roadies that are tough as nails. Contador rode a few days of the Giro with a dislocated shoulder. Christian Horner suffered a concussion and completed a stage without knowing where he was. We MTB'ers are sometimes too quick to dismiss roadies as pussies. Until we got packed into a peloton traveling at speed or have to face a mountain descent at 80-90kmh with no protection other than lycra and a brain bucket, all while trying to keep up with the rest of them. Road riding needs guts too. Different skillset, but no guts no glory just the same.
  • + 9
 Anyone who can survive the tour is hardcore in my books. And personally, I'd rather crash on dirt than pavement any day of the week.
  • + 8
 Make no mistake about it. Tour riders are hard men.
  • - 7
flag StanMarsh (Jul 8, 2015 at 0:09) (Below Threshold)
 No doubt roadies are mentally tough....it takes courage to dress like that in public. Also, many of them need to overcome a fear of needle drugs...very courageous!
  • - 5
flag StanMarsh (Jul 8, 2015 at 0:38) (Below Threshold)
 To the guy saying any pro sport is "drugged to the gills" just curious who has been caught doping in DH MTB? We can list a hundred UCI roadies who were caught but UCI DH none come to mind, but I haven't been around too long.

I have nothing against the average roadie, all bikes are rad, and while I think they are dumb for wanting to ride on the road with idiot drivers, to each their own. But it blows my mind that you guys can respect anyone racing pro in the UCI after its been proven what a bunch of drug using, money hungry d-bags they are. But again to each their own.
  • + 7
 I think the lycra and the lean small bodies lead the impression of "wimpy" when it comes to the roadie. That said, huge respect for the toughness of roadies (I being a total pansy and weep at a 60 km road ride). The crash a few days back and 'Canche finishing the ride with a broken back was a great example. He must have been in a land of hurt. What really (and still) stands out to me was in 2011 when Johnny Hoogerland was slammed by a car and flew into a barb wire cow fence. Most thought the man was dead yet he popped back on the bike looking like Chucky with cuts and blood flowing everywhere. Man finished the stage! I was home saying to myself "Sufferin' Jesus ol' man, get some medical help, no shame in stopping in your condition". And he still suffered on...........Huge, Huge respect for the roadies! That said, I still loves me' mtb!
  • + 1
 it's true that lots of them dope. but lots of top athletes in most professional sports dope too--but they don't fall under the same level of scrutiny as pro roadies. I respect these riders regardless--I just don't pull the wool over my eyes when I do it.
  • + 2
 just cos they don't get caught doesn't mean they don't dope.

see: Lance Armstrong, for about a good decade of his career.
  • + 2
 I second that "all forms of biking are awesome", seeing as I ride road, mtb and a motor.
  • + 2
 Me being present in both scenes, I feel that too many road cyclists have too much focus on trying to be the fastest, and forget about actually enjoying the ride. Although i have to say that extreme mtb has changed into that direction aswell, sadly. I prefer the fun freeride attitude much more than downhill racing, where people are so focussed on being 0.1 second faster they forget to enjoy their run.
  • + 2
 *not trying to be negative about downhill, I prefer riding a good natural downhill trail over a pre built freeride trail. Purely talking about the state of mind I see at many riders around me.
  • + 2
 @StanMarsh
Just because people get *caught* doping isn't a legitimate reason to put down a sport. The "drug using d-bags" are going to be found at the upper echelons of any sport, pro or not.

XC and enduro, riders have certainly been caught using EPO, diuretics, etc., since they would take more easily caught drugs. The UCI uses the same anti-doping controls as the WADA, aka, it's a total joke. You get three strikes to make it to a "random" test if you're called upon to have an out of comp screening.

Therefore, you can be sitting at home doing a cycle of testosterone/halotestin/primobolan (for the sake of argument, testosterone levels are easy to manipulate, so biological passport testing is useless, and halo/primo are steroids with an incredibly short half life which give pretty stellar strength gains with little to no size...therefore you could have a heavy cycle right up to the first race and "piss clean", so to speak.) You can even run low dosages of the steroids between races for recovery and an edge on the next WC, and it'll still be out of your system. And, you can make mistakes with your cycle, miss an appointment with the UCI, and be totally fine. Steroids aside, blood doping and EPO is difficult to find, even with a highly structured biological passport on every rider (riders aren't sending out blood samples weekly).

So, the real takaway here isn't "hurr durr DH bikerz haven't been caught doping so roadies are doping 24/7 and it's a dumb sport", it's that it's incredibly easy to cheat in DH, and it would be highly effective in terms of race time reduction...so do you really believe that there aren't DH riders out there doping?
  • + 1
 I think it doping less effective on downhill, as a very high percentage is about bike control. Whereas road ccycling is 0% about bike control and 100% about fast pedaling. Thereby I think ssomething that sharpens your reaction time could be more effective than adding extra power to your muscles. But don't cheat, it makes you a lame as pussy. Rather lose with dignity than win as a cheater.
  • + 2
 "Whereas road ccycling is 0% about bike control and 100% about fast pedaling."

Really??? 0%??? So riding at 60km/h in a packed peloton involves 0% skill and control? Riding down some of the massive descents in the Giro or the Tour involves 0% bike control? Come on man. Yes, it may not be as high as a 3 km DH in terms of pure control but high end road biking requires massive bike control and skill.

I've ridden in a few local rides with small pelotons and the amount of concentration and control required is huge. I can't imagine the pro's.
  • + 2
 wow MTB are very sensitive and insecure, maybe thats why roadies wear tighties and MTB wear motox clothes. Maybe freud was right the size of ones penis is the begining of all male insecurities. Show if you got roadies and bash them if you dont!!! 2015 and still SOS
  • + 3
 Doping is very effective in endurance sports. However, steroids would greatly aid the recovery time from your training season...so instead of doing a 10 mile XC circuit twice a week you could literally do it every day...it's not just strength gains, lots of it is about recovery. I also completely disagree that roadies have no bike handling skills, the few local ones I know who were good enough to get half sponsorships from cervelo are dirty on mountain bikes, the two aren't mutually exclusive. Also, plenty of winners are cheaters, don't be a little baby about it and try to claim the moral high ground from last place.
  • + 1
 @Petemoss: you're confusing concentration with bike control. You indeed need a lot of concentration riding high speed in packs (did up to 50km/h myself in a super tight pack during a crit).

But these same riders will also crash as soon as they have to avoid someone by going off the road into the grass next to it, while even cyclocrossers can ride through grass. Also you can't learn how to fall / crash decently / safe your ass when it goes wrong if you only fall once every 2 years. Most of the crashes downhill riders would only end up having some minor scratches, where road cyclists slam into the group as a bag of sand and break their bones. Also they can't even hop up a curb, even not with spds. So they do lack major bike control.
  • + 1
 To get back to my point, as an example Aaron Gwin won the Leogang race purely on bike control without his chain. Offcourse also fitness, but no pedaling except for those first couple of meters. Where as with road cycling it is purely about how much energy you have in your legs.
  • + 1
 It's the mind that sets a champion apart from other great racers.
  • + 1
 Wyn Masters, you now have a new wheelie Wednesday challenge! (and for anyone else good enough to do wheelie Wednesdays!!)
  • + 1
 nada contra os speedeiros... mas eu adorei esse cara empinando heaheuaeuh
  • + 1
 Looks like Road bike Party..♡♡♡♡
  • + 1
 whats the song in the encho road gap video???
  • + 1
 LOL I love 3 whEElie man... NICEE Big Grin Hollyshit
  • + 1
 This gives me pride for every mountain biker. Shine on.
  • + 1
 to all the guys who gapped the TourdeFrance : KEEP IT REAL !!!!!!
  • + 2
 Keeping it real tup
  • + 1
 epic
  • + 1
 I am wheelie man.
  • + 1
 Wheelie man rules!
  • - 1
 Why wasn't there a russian trucker comin up behind that roadie pile up? GOD let me down that time.
  • + 3
 @sunshine80 I laughed so hard at that. I am going to hell lol
  • - 3
 a lot of Mountain bikers are attention seekers, specially when put in contrast to Roadies.
  • + 9
 You sound discouraging.
  • - 4
flag Narro2 (Jul 7, 2015 at 16:06) (Below Threshold)
 hahaha, sorry man, both road gaps were just attention seeking stunts, I remember the one back in the 2000's, when being a Freerider, a Snowboarder, a Kayaker, etc... meant to be cool. Lance was all over the news, le Tour had finally gained world wide recognition, which was the first time that a cycling discipline accomplished that, if a cyclist wanted to get attention it was at the Tour. the guy doing the wheelie, not sure if it is an MTBer I don't think MTBers need worldwide attention nor recognition.
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