With about 45 km to go on the first stage of the Tour de France, almost the whole peloton was wiped out in a huge pileup caused by a roadside fan.
With the lone breakaway survivor Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) still holding over a minute’s advantage, the peloton was spread across the road as it passed through a huge crowd of fans. In one moment, the teams of the favourites were keeping things calm and anticipating the final phase of the stage, and in the next, most of the peloton was on the deck. Replays showed that the cause was an oblivious fan whose eyes were not on the race, instead focussed on the camera moto who led the way.
Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin was leading his team near the front when he saw the human obstacle, but he had nowhere to go. Only around 20 riders survived while the remainder of the race was in carnage. The lucky few still upright opted to neutralise things, stripping off the pace to allow those caught out to rejoin the race. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and stage favourite Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) were some of the many who had to chase back on. All three made it to the finish in one piece, as did Tony Martin, heavily scraped though he was.
As all around him scrambled to find new bikes, Jasha Sütterlin was the one man who stayed down. Overcome with emotion, the German rider for Team DSM could be seen being treated by doctors on the roadside, and before long he was confirmed as the first abandon of the Tour. By the end of the stage, there’d been a second and more catastrophic crash, and Sütterlin was not the last to leave the race on day one.