(Watch a French TV car take out two riders during a crash-filled ninth stage here.)
Crashes and road rash are daily occurrences in the Tour de France. With riders piled up at the start of every stage and weaving their way through the pack in hairpin turns, collisions are simply part of the sport.
But you rarely see a crash quite like the one Spain’s Juan-Antonio Flecha and Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland experienced during Sunday’s wreck-ravaged ninth stage.
Update (4:53 p.m.): Police have opened an investigation into the crash caused by a French TV vehicle that injured two riders.
Flecha was bumped hard by a French television car that swerved into the cyclist while trying to avoid a tree on the side of the road with roughly 22 miles to go. The Spaniard went down immediately, taking Hoogerland with him who was thrown into a barbed wire pasture fence.
(The Dutchman took the worst of the crash — see his lacerated leg here. Warning: this image is graphic in nature.)
Flecha suffered an elbow injury while Hoogerland absorbed several lacerations from the fence. Both riders — who were in contention at the time of the crash — finished the stage and will remain in the competition. Flecha’s Sky team manager, Dave Brailsford said he would consider issuing a formal complaint.
Fellow Spaniard Luis Leon Sanchez won the stage while France’s Thomas Voeckler placed second to snatch the yellow jersey from Thor Hushovd.
Said Sanchez of the crashes:
“Even before the accident a lot of cars brushed right past us. I understand that guests want to have a close look at the race, but we need to get a message across to the organizers so that the drivers are more careful.”
Former Swiss champion Fabian Cancellara was equally shocked by the incident.
This cardriver should get the same pain as my friend flecha... He corst the crash...This is a disaster what happen....
Kazakhstan’s Alexandre Vinokourov wasn’t able to escape his wreck without significant injury, however. The Astana rider fell in a pileup midway through Sunday’s race, flying off his bike seat and down a heavily-wooded embankment. Vinokourov was taken to a Paris hospital by helicopter where had surgery to repair a broken thighbone.
Sunday’s leg was especially bloody, but there is a bit of history when it comes to unusual crashes in the tour’s ninth stage. Back in 2007, Marcus Burghardt toppled over a thrill-seeking labrador. Fortunately, his bike’s new collapsible front wheel prevent both rider and dog from sustaining serious injuries.