Tour de France’s Stage 1, two peloton crashes create “chaos”

PERROS-GUIREC, France — This morning was the opening day of the 108th Tour de France, and a comprehensive crash was experienced by the majority of the peloton. German rider Tony Martin, a five-stage winner over the years, collided with a sign being held by a spectator. The spectator was staring straight into the television camera with nary a care in the world for the oncoming athletes. The hand-held, homemade cardboard and marker sign read, loosely translated from French, “Hi Grandma and Grandpa.”

Martin instantaneously crashed to the ground setting off a chain-reaction crash which, in a matter of seconds, engulfed approximately 50 riders. The stage, the first of 21, had 26 miles to the finish. The crash happened 3 hours and 36 minutes into the ride. The peloton refers to the main, largest grouping of riders who spend hours traveling within inches of each other.

Martin, blood coming from his arm, and most of the athletes were physically well enough to continue to race however the same can’t be said about their bikes. Bob Roll, an American commentator described the scene with words like, “Chaos, mayhem. and bazaar.” as the team staff members scrambled to tear fresh bikes off the support car racks to replace the ones that had literally in some cases broken nearly in half.

There was no rain, there were no hills, there was no sprint, it was a relatively leisurely section of the stage. Spectators were banned from last year’s Tour de France due to COVID.

Steve Porino, is a frequent fixture in Park City, is a long-time sports commentator for NBCSN bringing his local and international fans live field reports from the world of skiing in the winters and Tour de France in the summers. Porino, live today from the crash scene said on NBC as he tried to track down one of his famous sports interviews that, “They’ve got a lot to do right now.” indicating just how busy everybody at the race was moments after it happened, moments ago, and that no one had time to talk. 

Some athletes were tended to on the fly as they resumed riding by the team medical professionals hanging out of the sponsor vehicles.  One rider was so severely injured that he had to retire from the rest of the 21 stages. The race has yet to conclude for the day.

Update: Then, with six miles left towards the finish line, a second crash took down approximately 25 members of the peloton involving Chris Froome, British four-time winner of the Tour. Froome slowly got back on his bike and rode forth. “This is the most amazing start to a Tour in history,” said Phil Liggett, British commentator on NBCSN. The stage is still continuing.

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