The Captain: Tour de France crowds really grind my gears

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There are certain sports which you watch and the players get on your nerves.

Footballers rolling about in agony after being tapped on the knee with all the force of a gnat, tennis players poncing around bowing and curtseying to the Royal Box at Wimbledon and Formula One drivers being, well, Formula One drivers.

Over the last few weeks though I’ve been watching a sport where I have nothing but admiration for the participants - but hold a lot of the spectators in something close to contempt.

I’m talking, of course, about cycling and the Tour de France.

For three weeks the riders flog themselves half to death pedalling 3,664 kilometres, much of it over some of the highest roads in Europe.

It’s a sport with a dodgy past but I’m reliably informed it’s got a lot fewer drugs cheats than it used to.

And frankly it amazes me anyone can do it without being drugged up to their eyeballs.

So far, so good. But it’s fair to say I’m a lot less impressed with the people standing by the roadside.

Most of them look like they’ve been camping there for weeks on a diet of strong continental lager and burgers.

In comparison to the skinny, spare frames pedalling by they look like bloated bleached whales.

Then there are the idiots who dress up. Batman and Robin I can live with. But Borat really shouldn’t be replicated at any sporting event.

Seeing some moron dressed only in a mankini running alongside an athlete at the limit of his endurance, shouting in his face with beery breath is more than unacceptable.

It leaves me in turn shouting at the screen to leave the poor guy alone and let him get to the top of the bloomin’ mountain in peace.

Every time the route heads uphill the riders are confronted with a tunnel of people, closing in on them and bellowing in their faces.

There are even idiots this year facing away from the race, mobile phone in hand, trying to grab a selfie as the cyclists head past.

If someone did that to me when I was struggling uphill on a bike close to collapse, they would get my bike round their head.