Chaotic scenes played out on the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday (26 June) as a spectator with a placard took out the entire peloton.
The incident came after the onlooker reached out into the road with their sign aimed at the TV cameras oblivious of the close proximity to the oncoming riders.
A mass pile up
Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin stuck the placard as he rode past and fell to the ground, causing a mass pile-up of bikes and riders in his wake as the entire peloton came to a halt.
It took a full 25km for the bruised riders to fully regroup, only for the pack to be pulled apart again by a high-speed crash on the downhill approach to Landerneau in France.
British cyclist Chris Froome was among the worst affected and struggled to get back to his feet following the incident.
Froome did eventually make it to the finish, crossing the line 14-and-a-half minutes down, and was sent for scans after the race.
The former Tour de France winner was lucky to escape with no fractures, but will start stage two on Sunday (27 June) with some swelling and bruising.
Writing about the incident on Twitter, the 36-year-old said it was not how he planned the race to go, but was pleased to be able to finish.
He added: “No fractures thankfully but there’s a lot of swelling & bruising to my left leg and thorax. I’m going to try get a good night’s rest & see how things look in the morning before making any decisions with the medical team. Thanks for the many messages of support X."
Meanwhile, three riders – Jasha Sutterlin, Cyril Lemoine and Ignatas Konovalovas – failed to finish and others faced an uncomfortable night’s sleep nursing injuries.
The overall hopes of several riders already appear over due to huge time losses, most notably Miguel Angel Lopez who is almost two minutes down.
While Thomas and Richard Carapaz managed to avoid the chaos, the Ineos Grenadiers’ quartet of potential contenders has already been halved, with Richie Porte losing two minutes and Tao Geoghegan Hart conceded more than five.
Victory for Alaphilippe
Julian Alaphilippe took victory on the opening stage, winning his sixth career Tour stage which will see him wear yellow for a third year in a row.
Alaphilippe swapped his world champion’s rainbow jersey for yellow, racing clear of his rivals on the climb of the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups at the end of the 198km stage from Brest.
The main contenders for glory come Paris, namely Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas, crossed the line in a group eight seconds later.
The rest of the peloton arrived in major gaps behind due to the two major crashes.
Speaking about his win, Alaphilippe said: “It’s a scenario I imagined and I really wanted to do it but of course I had to do it and it’s really super.
“My team did a great job and controlled it all day. At the end I was caught in a crash but we got back and I really had to make the last climb.
“I had to get rid of the sprinters, it wasn’t easy but I gave my best and that was it.”