Drama queens or passionate pedallers?

Tossing a bike in anger

With 800 metres to go in stage 5 of the 2008 Giro D’Italia, Scottish pro David Millar appears to have broken his chain after standing on the pedals to gain some speed, just as he and his four breakway companions were preparing to duke it out on the uphill finish into Contursi Terme Wednesday. Millar, seconds after smacking the top tube with his genitals, flung his custom Felt carbon bike over the barrier. 


Former Saunier-Duval teammate Riccardo Ricco flung his custom Scott Addict carbon bike after crashing a few feet before the finish of stage 2 of this year’s Tirreno – Adriatico.

Are we witnessing pampered drama queens in action? Or is it more of what my Procycling colleague Daniel Friebe refers to when he says: ‘I like to see that level of emotion’?

Greg LeMond during the `86 Tour, just a few years after whipping his bike into the field.
Greg lemond during the `86 tour, just a few years after whipping his bike into the field.: greg lemond during the `86 tour, just a few years after whipping his bike into the field.
AFP/Getty Images

Mechanicals are nothing new in the pro peloton. A young espoir named Greg LeMond famously pitched his bike into the ditch during an amateur stage race, after waiting far too long for a wheel change. This flair up didn’t go unnoticed by famous French team manager Cyrille Guimard, who signed the young Californian to race with Bernard Hinault on the Renault-Elf team based on his ‘passion’.

Bjarne Riis aboard his futuristic Pinarello bike in 1997.
Bjarne riis aboard his futuristic pinarello bike in 1997.: bjarne riis aboard his futuristic pinarello bike in 1997.
Allsport UK /Allsport

In 1997, defending Tour de France champion Bjarne Riis was chugging along on his futuristic Pinarello time trial machine when one too many mechanicals prompted him to pitch the Pepto-Bismol coloured bike into the field. Either way, it appears the emotion after hours of preparation bubble to the surface in the heat of the battle. I, for one, was happy to see that ghastly bike flying through the air nonetheless. Watch this video and judge for yourself.

Slipstream's David Millar, minutes from pitching his Felt over the barrier.
Slipstream’s david millar, minutes from pitching his felt over the barrier.: slipstream’s david millar, minutes from pitching his felt over the barrier.

Millar, whose Slipstream team won the Giro team time trial, was gushing about how “God was in the details” last Saturday. No word if Satan snuck into the team pit this morning and monkeyed with Millar’s drivetrain or not.

“I was feeling totally in control, but it was hard,” Millar said on the Slipstream website after the race. “I averaged 154 heart rate for 5 hrs. I have a max of 190 when fresh. So I was hurting myself, and yet I never doubted myself. I decided to win the sprint. So all I had to do was not hesitate a second when the other four started attacking me in the final. Because that was what they had to do. They all knew I would beat them in a sprint, so that would be their tactic.

David Millar pitching his Felt F1 carbon bike.
David millar pitching his felt f1 carbon bike.: david millar pitching his felt f1 carbon bike.

“I did this until my chain broke. I was so raging and so focused that all the energy I had for winning the race was taken out on my bike. I’m not that person, I don’t see red. But I think it’s quite funny I did that. I’ve yet to see the footage…” Well, we have the footage here, folks. One has to feel for Millar’s misfortune.


We want to hear from you! Does throwing a bike reflect a cry for help from a prima donna hidden deep down inside all professional cyclists, or is this ‘level of emotion’ good to inspire teammates and personnel to rally for victory the next day?