Officials Cancel Race in France After ‘Huge Crash’ Sends Cyclist Over a Bridge
The first major bicycle race of the year in France saw a catastrophic crash that led to a cancellation after riders were caught in a pile-up. One cyclist was left clinging the side of a bridge briefly as medical officials tried to work their way through the huge crash. Race officials decided to cancel Stage 2 of the Etoile de Bessèges as “it was deemed unsafe to continue,” according to Cycling News.
The crash happened with just 24 kilometers left to go of Stage 2, which is 170-kilometers long in total. The small bridge funneled riders into a tight group, but professional cyclists can average speeds of up to 28 miles per hour over flat ground. With the end of the stage so close by, competitive riders may have been cranking to get to the finish line, and a combination of the cyclists’ speed, the day’s heavy crosswinds and the close quarters on the bridge led to the crash.
Highlights | Stage 2 Etoile de Bessèges 2023
The bridge crash, however, was not the first of the day: crosswinds had led to a smaller crash earlier in the day. Cycling News says the “huge crash” was set off by wheels touching as riders packed onto the narrow bridge, causing a chain reaction that toppled multiple athletes. Cyclist Valentin Ferron was thrown over his bike’s handlebars, then over the bridge wall as the All Cycling video shows. And Cycling News adds some context, explaining that:
Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) was launched to the wall of the bridge on the right-hand side of the road and almost fell over into the ravine on the other side. He was saved by his quick thinking and upper body strength, and was seen hanging by his arms before he hauled himself back onto the road.
First responders at Stage 2 were held up behind the crash, and struggled to pull injured cyclists away. Those who had avoided the pile-up kept pedaling ahead, making it difficult for medical support vehicles to reach the downed riders. Race officials finally called for all cyclists to stop at the 22-kilometer-to-go mark.
Three ambulances were present at the race, but all three rushed injured athletes away for treatment, leaving Stage 2 without enough medical personnel to safely conclude. The stage was neutralized or called off at that point, leaving it without a clear winner — though any points athletes accrued prior the cancellation will be counted.
The winner of the Stage 1 in the Etoile de Bessèges, cyclist Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dsnty), will keep his place atop the standings of the French competition for now. There are three stages left in the race, which has five stages in all.
Valentin Ferron came away from the crash with minor injuries, but five other athletes weren’t so lucky: Lotto-Dsnty cyclist Sébastien Grignard was taken to a hospital to check for possible fractures; two Israel-Premier Tech riders left with undisclosed injuries; Dylan Teuns required stitches for “facial contusions”; And Guillaume Boivin sustained contusions to his left hand, as well as his back.
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