Both riders injured after air rifle attack, but will start on Saturday
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Julien Dean (Garmin-Slipstream) were hit by lead pellets fired from an air rifle during Friday's stage 13 at the Tour de France. Neither rider was seriously injured and both plan to start in Saturday's fourteenth stage.
Three shots were heard as the peloton were descending, 165km into Friday's stage. Freire and Dean were hit, with the third shot luckily missing any member of the peloton.
Both teams confirmed the incident. “Oscar [Freire] was shot in the leg but he is okay,” Rabobank spokesman Luuc Eisenga told Cyclingnews. “Just the thought of it is very frightening.”
Eisenga said that the team was reporting the incident to the French gendarmerie.
After the stage, Rabobank team doctor Dion van Bommel removed a lead pellet from the three-time former World Champion's thigh. “He was very cool, but that is Oscar,” van Bommel said. “In the femur, such a pellet can cause little damage, but if it had hit Oscar in the eye, he would be blinded. I think this is outrageous, and I've never experienced anything like it in my career.”
Garmin team manager, Jonathan Vaughters, told Cyclingnews: “[Julien] Dean was hit in the index finger. I think this is an issue for the police. It's a bit sad that this happened. The tour has remained open to the public because we trust them. It would be horrible to erode that trust.”