The Tour de France is an event as old as the Olympics. Just like the Olympics, it has had years where it didn’t run. But unlike the Olympics, it is a race held every year. It is a sport known for its endurance, athleticism — and hazards. After all, a light-weight bike is no match for a car. While it might not be as spectacular as a car crash, the Tour de France has had more than its share of casualties on the course. Here are the top five crashes in a sport that is bound to have many more.
The first big crash happened in 1994 to the leader, Laurent Jalabert. He ran into a standing policeman on the wrong side of the barrier. It was just a matter of the policeman not paying attention. But this crash took out the potential winner and bloodied him. The police officer suffered a broken leg from the accident. Probably, the most upsetting part of this whole accident was that Laurent was taken out of the race before he could win it.
Another accident happened in 2011 to Flecha and Hoogerland — although, from the actions of the driver, it didn’t look like an accident. It looked to be a deliberate act of sabotage. Who knows the motives of the driver? But the car and driver were banned from the race following the incident. While both bikers were okay, they lost their chance at a victory.
In 1991, Djamolidine Abdujaparov found out the hard way that a simple thing can take down a rider in no time. He collided with a promotional item that was accidentally left on the track. While he broke his collarbone during this incident, he still managed to finish the leg of the race without further incident and only sought medical treatment afterward.
The 2oo7 Tour de France showed what happens when a spectator gets in the way. The spectator was a dog and the rider was Sandy Casar. It is still one of the more bizarre crashes of the Tour. The dog was fine. However, Sandy Casar had to leave the race.
Jens Voigt proved to everyone that staying on a bike in a turn isn’t easy in 2009. He did get scraped up and his bike was damaged. Sliding on asphalt isn’t really the best way to win a race. But then again, a video crew capturing the moment was probably more embarrassing.
These are some of the top five bicycle crashes in the Tour de France. They are enough to make anyone think about never getting involved in the sport. While they may not be as spectacular as a car crash, they are more gut wrenching to watch. That spandex is no match for asphalt.
(See video of these crashes, and others, at this policymic post by Alex Sanborn.)