Crashing is part of cycling as crying is part of love. – Professional Belgian rider Johan Museeuw
On the ultimate racing stage in the Tour de France, the crashes are just as enthralling as the race itself. Let’s count down the Tour’s 10 most notorious Tour de France crashes, starting with bizarre spills and ending with the most traumatic crashes of all.
Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, 1991
In an all-out sprint to the finish, Uzbekistani rider Abdoujaparov hit a barrier and smashed into the pavement, taking a few other riders out seconds before finishing the race. No one was permanently injured, but the cycling world branded Abdoujaparov as a selfish, aggressive rider after his wrecking ball sprint to the finish.
Sandy Cesar, 2007
At Stage 18 of the 2007 Tour, a careless spectator let their curious pup wander out onto the course. Frenchman Sandy Casar had no time to react, and tumbled over the confused canine. Fortuitously, the dog was unharmed, and Casar, bloodied and bruised with his kit in tatters, went on to win the stage.
Giuseppe Guerini, 1999
Italian Giuseppe Guerini was about to win Stage 10, a dramatic finish atop the Alpe d’Huez, when a reckless fan stepped directly in his way to snap the perfect photo. Like Casar, Guerini shook it off and won the stage.
Oscar Pereiro, 2008
This disastrous crash took 2006 Tour de France champion Oscar Pereiro out for the rest of the ’08 season, but he was lucky to walk away with just a broken arm. Pereiro missed a curve and perilously rocketed over the guardrail.
Wilfried Nelissen, 1994
After six hours of racing unscathed, Belgium’s Wilfried Nelissen came around a corner and slammed into a policeman standing too far from the barrier. Nelissen and French rider Laurent Jalabert took the brunt of the crash and amidst broken teeth, collarbones, fractured cheekbones and massive concussions, both riders had to pull out of the race.
Johnny Hoogerland, 2011
The Tour was weaving through picturesque French farmland when a Euro Media vehicle tried to pass ahead of the break. Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland was violently thrown off the road, his legs instantly shredded by a barbed wire fence. Hoogerland ended up with 33 stitches, and became a tour legend.
Hoogerland was caught between a 2011 Ridley Noah and a tangle of barbed wire.
Jens Voigt, 2009
In Stage 16 of the 2009 Tour, Jens Voigt descended a seemingly smooth grade at 60 mph and face-planted into the pavement. There’s been a lot of speculation concerning why he went down—perhaps a loose chain or an unseen divot in the road. Whatever the cause, Voigt went down hard. He lay unconscious in the road for three to four minutes with a broken face; the concussion was so severe it took him out of the race.
Mark Cavendish, 2014
Prominent rider Mark Cavendish hoped to win the 2014 Tour, but this prospect came crashing down when he ate it in Stage 1 and broke his shoulder. This crash was particularly devastating because it took a Tour favorite out for the race so prematurely. Cav will be back with a vengeance in 2015.
The SL4 Cavendish wrecked in the crash.
Alexandre Vinokourov, 2011
Racers descended the Col du Pas de Peyrol (a category 2 climb) in the rain, and chaos erupted at the bottom. Alexandre Vinokourov skidded off into the woods and fractured his leg, while favorites Jurgen Van den Broeck and Dave Zabriskie got ensnared in the soggy pile of broken carbon. All three riders abandoned the race. Because they were critical members of their teams, this crash shook up the Tour standings. This rattled Vinokourov in particular, who had his sights set on the yellow jersey.
Joseba Beloki, 2003
This crash is as catastrophic as it is epic. A rapid descent on Stage 3 of the 2003 Tour turned disastrous for Spain’s Joseba Beloki when he took a turn too hot and slammed into the asphalt. His hip shattered, his racing career concurrently expiring. Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong showed off his impressive bike handling skills and went off-roading to avoid the crash. Armstrong took the Yellow Jersey that year, and his brief attempt at cyclocross is now Tour legend.