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​Tour de France litter fines – who picked up the most?

Posted by James Eacott on

New UCI rules fine riders caught tossing rubbish during races. So when it came to this year's Tour de France litter fines which rider incurred the most?

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The 106th Tour de France was a thriller. Extreme weather, altered courses, a Frenchman dominating Yellow, the first Latin American winner and, of course, Peter Sagan pulling a wheelie on a TT bike.

But behind the pain, glory and drama of cycling's biggest race, lurks a more mundane issue - plastic. Namely the amount lobbed into the French countryside in the form of riders' discarded bidons (water bottles).

We recently wrote about this here and were keen to see what impact the new UCI littering fines had on this year’s edition. Would the planet's finest riders finally stop chucking their empties into hedges like two-wheeled winos on the world's fastest bender?

tour de france litter fines

What are the Tour de France fines for littering?

Riders now face fines of up to £745 since the UCI brought in their new anti-littering rules for this season.

A good start but that headline-grabbing £745 is only for those: “throwing bidons in a ’dangerous manner’ "

'Dangerous manner' is not defined, but let's assume that unless you're sharpening your bidons before filling them with snooker balls and firing them point blank into the crowd, this fine won't apply.

Instead, for the classic 'bottle-toss' you'll be in for a meagre £150. 

Given that's less than a set of race tyres, no wonder this figure never made the headlines when the UCI's 'drastic' anti-litter crusade was announced.

tour de france litter fines 2

Cash fines won't stop pro cyclists littering the French countryside. Time fines on the other hand...

Have fines reduced litter in the Tour de France?

In a word, no. 

I caught a couple of stages and there were many bottles jettisoned outside official litter zones.

One argument in favour of this is that the bottles make a great souvenir for a spectator. But even if you are such an avid fan you want a sweaty bottle of backwash, most I saw flew into hedges and fields and were nowhere near the fans.

Tour de France fines - bottle tossing the most common offence

The most popular fine throughout the race was indeed bottle tossing, with riders including Ineos's Geraint Thomas and Gianni Moscon as well as Movistar's Carlos Verona and UAE Emirates' Rui Costa all among those caught out. 

tour de france litter fines 3

Beautiful race, amazing athletes, stunning country. Shame about the rubbish

Tour de France bottle fines - which rider was caught most often?

That'll be Geraint Thomas, pinged twice. All of which may make you wonder quite what all the fuss is about. 

After all if he only did it twice in 3,480kms and was the biggest offender surely this is all a bit of a storm in a (plastic) tea cup?

And it would be, if the number of riders fined (nine) came close to the number of bottles discarded where they shouldn't have been.

Because there were considerably more than nine bidons discarded in the wrong spots throughout the Tour. During the two stages I watched alone I counted a couple of dozen without even paying close attention.

What can be done to reduce litter at the Tour de France?

Either heftier fines are needed, or the punishment needs to change. Our suggestion is time, not money.

Egan Bernal won the Tour de France by 71 seconds and even that’s not a small margin by Tour terms. Victors have previously edged the win with half that.

If riders were given just 30 seconds every time they littered outside a designated zone, the problem would disappear overnight as the peloton and its assorted sports directors quickly worked out best bottle strategy to keep the speed up and the hedge plastic down.

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