Tour de France crash

Crashes and pileups at the Tour de France are not that rare. This is not surprising since we have riders going at high speeds while bunched close together and weaving in and out and even the most skillful riders can occasionally make a wrong move that causes a crash. Last year the Tour de France was held with fewer spectators lining the streets because of covid-19 restrictions. This year the crowds were back in full force but the presence of one particular fan caused a massive pile up of riders.

It was caused by this fan standing by the road who then moved slightly onto to the road so that a sign that she had apparently made for her grandparents would get on TV.

It is lucky that no one died.

One rider, Jasha Sutterlin, was s injured and had to pull out of the race. Several others were hurt, including spectators. Among the ones that were hurt were Italy’s Sonny Colbrelli and Dutch rider Wout van Aert, both of whom looked as favorites to win the first leg of the race but suffered delays after they fell over. The rider who eventually won, Julian Alaphilippe, did so with blood dripping from his knee. “I hope everyone is OK. I’m calling on the fans to be careful. It’s nice to see the fans back on the side of the road, but please be careful,” Alaphilippe said.

If Tour de France is going to sue the spectator though officials will first have to find her. As of Sunday, police in France were still looking for the spectator who fled the scene after the crash.

For some reason, people will do all manner of things in order to just be briefly caught on TV for about one second. I am not sure what the appeal is that she would go to the trouble of carting around a sign and trying to position herself for the camera for at most a fleeting ppearance, if she is lucky. Although the woman fled the scene, authorities will undoubtedly be able to track her down from the video with the help of internet sleuths, just the way that so may January 6th insurrectionists were identified.

I have no idea of the complex scoring rules in this multi-day event but I enjoyed watching the highlights of last year’s Tour de France.


  1. johnson catman says

    When they find her, she should be banned for life from ever being allowed to attend a bike race again. She obviously is so self-absorbed that she doesn’t realize that the world doesn’t revolve around her.

  2. Matt G says

    Some people are shockingly self-involved. Apparently the Tour de France intends to sue.

  3. Who Cares says

    What is worse about the woman is that she saw the peloton, occupying the full width of the road, coming towards her since the motorbike with the camera was a less then a few dozen meters in front of said peloton. Then she turned around so that she could show her placard on TV.

    And this isn’t exactly the first time that people standing to the side of the road have crashed riders. I’ll just highlight 2018 since in the same stage (day 12) Froome was deliberately attacked by a spectator because someone using doping shouldn’t have been allowed into the Tour. And later on during the ascent of Alpe d’Huez a spectator managed to fracture a vertebra of Nibali (even though Nibali maintains the claim it was caused by one of the motorbikes escorting him you can see a spectator crashing into him).

  4. says

    It happens in other sports, some less dangerous (e.g. in front of runners), some moreso.

    In rally racing, after a disaster happens (fans get hit or killed) people stand back and follow rules. Then over time after no accidents, fans creep in closer and stand in unsafe places again until the next disaster happens.

  5. mailliw says

    I have only once watched a long distance cycling race live.

    You stand for ages at the side of the road, the riders approach and then it is all over in seconds. I don’t understand the point of turning out to watch this.

    In the cycling world championships they ride a circuit on the roads which means you get to see the cyclists more than once.

  6. mnb0 says

    “Crashes and pileups at the Tour de France are not that rare.”
    This year it’s worse than ever; four crashes only today.

    “I have no idea of the complex scoring rules in this multi-day event”
    It’s pretty simple: count time. The cyclist who needs the least time in those three weeks wins. The leader of the day, at the moment Van der Poel, wears the Yellow Jersey. Alaphilippe is second with 8 seconds behind. So if the latter is 9 seconds faster tomorrow than the first Alaphilppe will receive the Yellow Jersey.
    What makes things more complicated and also more interesting are bonifications (I hope this is not Dunglish). The winner of the day receives 10; who finishes second 8 (I believe) etc. At strategic points underway cyclists can also get bonifications. That’s why Van der Poel accelerated 17 km before the finish yesterday.
    Bonifications can be very important. In 1989 the American Greg Lemond beat the Frenchman Greg Lemond with just an 8 second lead.

    The consensus among cyclists and fans is that crashes spoil the fun and lower the tension. Just before the finish today Ewen and Sagan, both contenders for the win today, crashed. Ewen even quit and that means less compeitors in several races. Roglic lost at least half a minute today to an earlier crash and you get imagine the chagrin if he ends up with say 12 seconds behind the final winner.

  7. mnb0 says

    Races in the mountains can be terrible too for the cyclists. The roads are narrow, the spectators are too crowded The cyclists sometimes hardly see the road anymore.

    Slopes are 10 -- 15 %; temperature is high and the sun is merciless.
    This is pure paranoia, I think.
    The Tour is one of the craziest and most fascinating sports events ever invented.

  8. johnson catman says

    mnb0 @6:

    In 1989 the American Greg Lemond beat the Frenchman Greg Lemond with just an 8 second lead.

    Were they related? ;-P

  9. rich rutishauser says

    The first few days of the Tour are always more crash prone than later in the race too. The build up to this race every July for the racers is almost like the Olympics and when it finally starts tensions (anxiety, excitement…not really anger) are super high. Racer and team performance are scrutinized by sponsors too, adding to the frayed nerves.

    All that said I am having trouble remembering another year where there were so many big crashes in the first few days.


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