Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome escaped severe injury when he got caught up in a crash in the first stage of this year’s race on Saturday.
Froome missed the last two Tours after a high-speed crash into a wall in 2019 threatened to end his career. He stayed on the road for a moment and struggled to get back on his feet but finally got back on his bike and finished the stage lagging more than 14 minutes behind eventual stage winner Julian Alaphilippe.
Froome said in a statement, “Not how I planned for today to go but I managed to finish.” However, Germany’s Jasha Sutterlin (DSM), Marc Soler of Spain (Movistar), French rider Cyril Lemoine (BB Hotels) and Lithuania’s Ignatas Konovalovas (Groupama-FDJ) were forced to withdraw from the race.
Many others were also caught in mass pile-ups in two falls – at 45km caused by a spectator in the road holding up a sign. The roadside fan caused a giant crash at the Tour de France and is reportedly going to be sued by the organizers. The woman concerned held up a banner slightly into the road and was looking straight at the television motorbike cameras with her back turned.
“We are suing this woman who behaved so badly,” Tour deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault said in a statement.
“We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this don’t spoil the show for everyone,” he said. According to reports from France, the woman who was wearing a yellow jacket fled the scene and has yet to be found.