The 2016 Tour set off last weekend on its three-week pedal around France. Not all the riders will make it to the finish line in Paris, though, with accidents aplenty guaranteed. Here are some of the most terrifying wipeouts from the world’s biggest bike race.
1. Four-legged Fail
Never work with children or animals, as the old saying goes, and this was definitely true for Frenchman Sandy Casar. He had to swerve to avoid a stray dog on Stage 18 of the 2007 Tour and ended up sprawled across the tarmac. Luckily the mutt was unharmed, and Casar, bloodied and bruised, limped on to win the stage.
2. Photo Bomb
The Tour’s most famous finish, at the ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, attracts crazy crowds all jostling for a glimpse of their hero. But one fan went a bit too far to get the perfect photo during the 1999 Tour, standing in the middle of the road and knocking Italian Giuseppe Guerini out of the saddle. Guerini got back on his bike, though, and still won the stage.
3. Strain in the Rain
In the 2003 Tour, German Jan Ullrich and American Lance Armstrong battled fiercely to bring home the Yellow Jersey. Ullrich was less than a minute behind his rival when he lost control on the final time trial and skidded to a halt in the wet. He ended up losing the Tour by just 71 seconds, although Armstrong was later stripped of his title in disgrace.
4. Pile of Pedals
A tightly packed peloton travelling at high speed is an accident waiting to happen, and this monster 35-bike pile-up in Belgium during the 2015 Tour was quite some accident. Among the injured was Swiss rider and race leader Fabian Cancellara, who hurtled over his handlebars and out of the Tour with fractured vertebrae.
5. Bloody Ending
Going out of the Tour is bad enough, but going out after just six hours is the pits, as a group of sprinters found out at the end of the first stage in 1994. A policeman trying to take a souvenir photo got in the way of a bunch of cyclists going at 70km/h. The result was a bloody mess and put several riders in hospital, including local hero Laurent Jalabert.
6. Downhill Danger
High-speed descents are scary enough to watch, so just imagine what it was like for Spanish rider Joseba Beloki when he lost his grip on the melting road surface in scorching temperatures. Beloki ended up with fractures galore, but the crash is most famous for Lance Armstrong’s cunning swerve round Beloki and across a field to rejoin the race.