By Jack de Menezes
Three of defending champion Jonas Vingegaard’s teammates crashed after a spectator trying to take a selfie triggered a mass pile-up on the 15th stage of the Tour de France.
Nathan van Hooydonck hit the deck hard about 129 kilometres from the finish line on Sunday (Monday AEST) with Sepp Kuss (Vingegaard’s key lieutenant in the mountain) and Dylan van Baarle also crashing after Kuss was put off balance by a spectator.
Video footage appeared to show a fan sticking their arm out and holding a mobile phone before contact with the American rider.
All three got back on their bikes, although van Hooydonck spent a couple of minutes lying on the ground before restarting. The 2019 Tour champion Egan Bernal was also caught up in the accident, although – unlike Saturday’s brutal crash – all of those involved were able to remount and continue.
The accident caused several teams to urge fans to show more caution across the rest of the Tour. In 2021, a fan holding up a sign for her grandparents caused a stage to be halted after colliding with German rider Tony Martin.
Team Jumbo-Visma said: “Please be always aware when watching cycling at the side of the road.”
Ineos Grenadiers added: “If you are spectating at this amazing event, please give the riders room to race.”
Team Cofidis 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.”
The incident also prompted a reminder from the official Tour account on Twitter, which told fans to “please pay attention to the riders.”
A dramatic stage also witnessed a bizarre incident when Israel-Premier Tech’s Krists Neilands fell and struck a wall after losing control when trying to take a water bottle from a neutral service motorbike rider.
Tadej Pogacar, wearing the best young rider’s white jersey, and Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard on the 15th stage.Credit: AP
The setback for Jumbo-Visma at least did not prevent Vingegaard from going toe-to-toe with arch-rival Tadej Pogacar. The pair crossed the line together for a second straight stage after an almighty battle up the Saint-Gervais at the foot of Mont Blanc.
Wout Poels took his first career grand tour stage win after crossing the line as the last survivor of a big breakaway group, which had gone clear of the main peloton just before the crash occurred 50 kilometres into the stage.
Poels came to the foot of the final climb with Wout van Aert but immediately attacked, as the road ramped up, and gradually eased clear to take the win by more than two minutes.
About six minutes after Poels crossed the line, Vingegaard and Pogacar came home shoulder to shoulder after a tussle on the side of the mountain that failed to split them. Vingegaard’s advantage in yellow remains at 10 seconds going into Monday’s rest day.
Carlos Rodriguez, who had paced back to the leading duo as they eyed each other on the road, was just behind to strengthen his hold on third place overall, with Simon Yates up to fourth after Australian Jai Hindley again faded.