Cataclysmic crowds closed in on the men who had broken away from the peloton on Mont Ventoux, one of the most gruelling climbs on the Tour de France.
There was less than one and a half kilometres of the 178km to go on the stage. Richie Porte’s calves piled through the pedals and powered him up the class five ascent one wheel ahead of Team Sky favourite Chris Froome and Dutch rider Bauke Mollema.
The crowd closed in around them, suffocating the riders with panting praise and claustrophobic fanaticism, shouting and spitting support in equal measures as they stepped in closer until there was no closer to go. A supporting motorcycle ahead was forced to break in front of the breakaway riders, who in turn hit the moto and subsequently the floor.
Porte and Mollema got back on their bikes as the chasing pack rode past the fallen riders. Froome could not continue on the saddle; his bike had been broken. He began to run on foot down the road ahead, through the frenzied fjord of fans with painted faces and camera phones at the end of their arms, his cleats clattering off the concrete before he was reunited with a saddle.