The start of the Tour de France plummeted into chaos on Saturday after an onlooker’s sign caused a major crash. The bystander was posing for the camera with the sign and not watching the race. As a result, a rider ran into the sign.
With one foot on the road and a sign telling riders to “Go!” hanging onto the roadway, the onlooker’s head was turned in the opposite direction of the cyclists when pandemonium broke out.
In the footage from the accident, which took place with 45 kilometers left, viewers can see the careless fan holding a sign. They later moved too far into the road, causing a cyclist to lose control of his bike. As a result, this lead to a devastating pileup.
According to Insider, the rider, Jumbo-Visma team’s Tony Martin, hit the sign. At least one cyclist, Jasha Sütterlin of Team DSM, left the race because of the crash. However, fans later spotted him back in the competition back on the road while donning some cuts and road rash.
While multiple bikes were damaged due to the crash, the number of injured riders has yet to be made clear.
Fellow cyclist Jasper Stuyven reacted to the pileup on Twitter, writing, “On a serious note though; great to see still many spectators are loving our sport and cheering for us, but please, stay on the side of the road, not on the road!”
Later on, with nearly eight kilometers left, another crash also led to an accident on the road, though it was not immediately clear what the cause was.
Tour de France Kicks off With Rocky Start
Per The Guardian’s reporting, rider Chris Froome collided “heavily” in the second incident, and onlookers later spotted him limping over the finish line after receiving medical care. “It was really nasty today,” last year’s winner, Tadej Pogacar, told a British news outlet.
By the end of Saturday’s race, French cyclist Julian Alaphilippe came out victorious. He will wear the signature Tour de France yellow jersey on day two of the race.
“If you’d said to me that I’d be leaving a World Champion’s jersey for the Yellow Jersey I would not have believed it,” he said after his win, according to the official Twitter account of the Tour de France.
The annual event is set to run through July 18. The participants will ride roughly 3,414 kilometers over 21 days of biking with only two days of rest.
The race, which typically begins in June, was moved to August last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With vaccines now available, the event was moved back to June for this year’s race.
The Tour has since cautioned fans to “respect the safety of the riders.” They also add, “Don’t risk everything for a photo or to get on television!”