Tour de France 2023: Fan taking selfie causes crash on stage 15

Egan Bernal sitting on the ground after coming off his bike
Egan Bernal, winner in 2019, fell on stage 15

A spectator taking a selfie caused a crash of about 20 riders on stage 15 of the Tour de France.

The stage was won by Dutchman Wout Poels as defending champion Jonas Vingegaard maintained his 10-second lead on Tadej Pogacar.

Sepp Kuss, Vingegaard’s Team Jumbo-Visma team-mate, had his handlebars knocked by a fan holding out a phone.

Kuss went down with team-mate Nathan van Hooydonck and brought down a large group in the peloton.

“There was a narrowing in the town and a spectator in the road, and I guess he just clipped my handlebars,” said Kuss.

“Luckily I’m OK and hopefully the other guys in the crash are all right. It’s not ideal.

“I think it’s fatigue. It’s been such a hard race and everybody is a bit tired. You lose a bit of alertness and there’s always things out of your control as well.”

All the riders who crashed completed the 179km stage from Les Gets les Portes du Soleil to Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc.

Dane Vingegaard was unaffected, while stage winner Poels was in the breakaway several minutes up the road.

‘Please pay attention to the riders’

Shortly after the incident, the official Tour Twitter account posted a slow-motion video of a rider ducking under a spectator’s outstretched arm with the message: “Please pay attention to the riders.”

Team Jumbo-Visma tweeted: “Please be always aware when watching cycling at the side of the road.”

Team Confidis said: “Please be careful. So that the party remains a party for the runners but also for you. You don’t need a cell phone to create mind-blowing memories.”

Ineos Grenadiers said: “If you are spectating at this amazing event, please give the riders room to race.”

An overhead view of the Tour de France crash
The crash took place with about 50km into the stage

One of the Tour’s worst crashes involving a spectator occurred in 2021, when a woman holding up a sign with a message in German to her grandparents clipped rider Tony Martin on the first stage.

Two riders pulled out and eight others were treated for injuries, including Spain’s Marc Soler, who broke both arms.

The woman turned herself in to police and went to court over the incident.

She was ordered to pay a symbolic one euro fine but, after receiving a barrage of abuse, her identity was withheld.

A the time, Tour director Christian Prudhomme said: “We just want people to take care when they come to the Tour and remember they are there to see the champions – and not to get on television.”

‘We’ve seen this before’ – analysis

Matt Warwick, BBC Sport

Following 2021’s ‘Omi & Opi’ scandal, in which a young woman caused a huge pile-up on stage one of the Tour, riders have been more wary of fans wanting to get close to the action.

Cycling’s world governing body the UCI introduced a range of measuresexternal-link under the SafeR banner just before this race, which incorporates better assessments of high-speed descents following the death of Gino Mader last month, and more management of crowds.

At the top of the Col de Joux Plane climb on Saturday, Pogacar was held up by motorbikes and penned in by crowds standing inches from their heroes.

Across a season, the list of rider casualties is too long, but road cycling is a unique sport, growing in popularity, and trades on the volatility of competing out in the open.

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