The famous bicycle race through the French countryside, the Tour de France, is underway this month and will continue through July 24. Even if you’ve never watched all of the stages of this competition, you have probably seen some of the crashes that are bound to happen when that many people are riding so close to one another at unbelievable speeds. On this Throwback Thursday, let’s take a look at some of the worst Tour de France crashes that have happened throughout the over 100 year history of this race.
We here at Article Cats are fans of the feline version of man’s best friend because, among other reasons, no cat that we know of has ever caused one of the Tour de France crashes. At least one dog, however, has. Back in 2010, Marcus Berghardt was already having a bad day as he was near the back of the pack during the race. His day got a whole lot worse when a curious Golden Retriever decided to cross the road as the race was happening. Concentrated on riding, Berghardt didn’t see the dog and ran right into the animal with his front tire. Luckily, neither the dog nor athlete was hurt, although I’m sure there is a leash policy along the race route now.
There are many reasons most of us could find to not ride a bicycle outside in the scorching heat. You can add melting tar to that list; Joseba Beloki would. Beloki had a chance at beating Lance Armstrong in the 2003 Tour de France until he ran over a section of road tar that had melted because of the extreme heat. This is one of the more famous Tour de France crashes because Armstrong, who was right behind Beloki when he crashed, veered off into the nearby field to avoid colliding with his competitor. Beloki broke several bones due to the crash and was sidelined from competition until the following year.
In many Tour de France crashes, you’ll notice that there are a lot of motorized vehicles surrounding the bicyclists. These are supposed to help the athletes, but many times they end up causing collisions or at least some close calls. In a 2011 crash involving a rival’s car, Johnny Hoogerland was hit in what seemed like a deliberate movement by the person driving the car. The location of the accident couldn’t have been worse, as Hoogerland was thrown into a barbed-wire fence. Years after the race, Hoogerland still complains of insomnia, mood swings and back pain.
French bicyclist Laurent Jalabert was known for his unique style of sprinting during races. Unfortunately, this caused one of the most controversial Tour de France crashes in the race’s history. Jalabert and other riders crashed into a police officer who was standing alongside a crowd control barrier. If you look at the replay, you’ll notice that the officer steps out ever so slightly in front of the oncoming riders, an allegation that was taken to court. When Jalabert returned to competition in 1995, a year after the crash left him with some broken bones, he was no longer a sprinter, instead focusing his attention on one-day classics.
Giuseppe Guerini went on to win the stage he was competing in, but there was a moment when fans and probably Guerini himself didn’t think that would happen. During the famous ascent of the Alpe d’Huez, a photographer jumped out in front of the athlete, leaving Guerini nowhere to go but straight into him. I hope that guy at least got a good picture…