As if we needed it, we have more evidence mobile phones have invaded every aspect of modern life, sports being no exception.
Consider a sacred institution now infiltrated: the Tour de France, the greatest of all bicycle races, celebrated the world over for its strong traditions and panache.
But yes, a rider has been caught using his phone during the race — apparently at nearly 40 miles an hour.
On the Tour’s eighth stage, Italy’s Luca Paolini of the Katusha team was caught red-handed by sports photographer Graham Watson, who tweeted the photo and called out the rider:
This wouldn't be Luca Paolini texting from his iPhone in today's stage, would it – at about 60-kph..! http://t.co/Spbcz5ZniL
— Graham Watson (@grahamwatson10) July 12, 2014
The race organisers caught wind of this and published a note reminding everyone that the use of mobile phones during the race by riders was not allowed according to the sport’s governing body, the International Cycling Union:
“RAPPEL A TOUTES LES EQUIPES: L’utilisation du téléphone cellulaire en course par les coureurs n’est pas autorisée en référence de l’article 9 de l’épreuve et de l’article 2.2.024 du règlement de l’U.C.I.”
Paolini, a very charismatic rider and heavy Twitter user with a penchant for emoticons, admitted what he’d done and claimed he merely forgot his phone was in his jersey pocket and was simply turning it off:
He apologized to the organisers for breaking the rules and thanked them for letting him off with only a warning:
Thankfully his actions didn’t cause an accident. The Tour is already wild enough with crashes happening nearly every day — not to mention those dangerous Tour de France selfies.
It didn’t take long for folks on Twitter to make fun of Paolini’s bungle:
Paolini is actually really popular among cycling fans, and he’s celebrated for his intense passion for racing, so this little fiasco should blow over quickly.
We can just add it to his colourful career highlight reel, which includes the throwing of a $US10,000 bike.