Sunday’s Tour de France racers had a massive collision after a fan with a smartphone stuck her arm out to take a selfie. It’s not the first time a pile-up like this happened because of a reckless spectator, and she’s even facing a lawsuit from Team Jumbo-Visma.
How did the incident happen?
Sepp Kuss, an American rider from Team Jumbo-Visma, got his handlebars knocked by the overexcited fan’s phone. Kuss tumbled, taking down his teammate Nathan van Hooydonck and a big chunk of the peloton. Amazingly, all the riders who crashed managed to get back on their bikes and finish the stage. Despite the drama, defending champ Jonas Vingegaard held on to his 10-second lead over Tadej Pogacar.
“There was a narrowing in the town and a spectator in the road, and I guess he just clipped my handlebars,” Kuss said after the incident. “Luckily I’m OK and hopefully the other guys in the crash are all right. It’s not ideal.”
“I think it’s fatigue. It’s been such a hard race and everybody is a bit tired. You lose a bit of alertness and there’s always things out of your control as well.”
After the incident, the Tour de France’s officials tweeted a slow-mo video of the crash, with a message for all fans: ” Please be always aware when watching cycling at the side of the road.” Team Confidis said: “Please be careful. So that the party remains a party for the runners but also for you. You don’t need a cell phone to create mind-blowing memories.”
In the video, you can see the moment when the fan sticks her arm out. It clips Kuss’s handlebars and everything quickly goes to hell. This moment is around 1:37 of the video:
Not the first incident
This Tour de France incident sounded all too familiar, and then I remembered that this happened before. It was in 2021, when a woman held a sign to pose for a video, causing one of the worst crashes in Tour de France’s history.
The authorities found her after the collision and took her into custody in Landerneau. She was accused of “involuntarily causing injury and putting the [lives] of others at risk,” but the Tour management dropped the case.
Facing a lawsuit
The woman who caused the crash turned herself into the police and had to pay a symbolic one-euro fine. After a heap of online abuse, her name was kept secret to protect her. But it looks like it won’t stay at the one-euro fine after all. The Jumbo-Visma team is thinking about pressing charges against her. The French police know who she is, but they won’t arrest her unless Kuss decides to sue. Speaking on his behalf, a spokesperson said that the team might sue. “We’ll find out how and when.”
“I think we owe that to the riders who were on the ground. Not only ours, but also those of other teams,” said team boss Richard Plugge. “It’s really nice that the public is standing by the side and cheering us on. We’re very happy with that, but just keep your distance. I think it’s very important that we send a strong signal for once.”