A series of crashes throughout the stage marred the Tour de France's return to racing after the first rest day on stage 10 to Île de Ré, with narrow roads and considerable road furniture both contributing to the carnage.
Numerous big names hit the deck throughout the nervous 168.5km stage, which was earlier blemished by race director Christian Prudhomme's positive COVID-19 test, and also saw biggest crowds yet seen at the 2020 race, ongoing in the midst of the pandemic.
Sam Bewley (Mitchelton-Scott) was forced to abandon his debut Tour de France with a fractured wrist after being caught in a mass crash 100km into the stage. Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb) was also affected, as was American climber Neilson Powless (EF Pro Cycling), and Jumbo-Visma domestique Robert Gesink.
Trek-Segafredo's world champion Mads Pedersen was also caught up in the same crash, while his teammate Toms Skujinš was later shown by television motos with tears to his shorts and jersey after going down.
With 65km to go, it was hearts in mouths time for UAE Team Emirates and Cofidis as their GC men Tadej Pogačar and Guillaume Martin crashed.
Nils Politt (Israel Start-Up Nation), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NTT Pro Cycling), Damiano Caruso (Bahrain McLaren), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept) and Pogačar's teammate Davide Formolo also went down, with the Italian suffering a fractured clavicle.
31km from the line, and with the nervy peloton anticipating crosswinds in the finale, the Arkéa-Samsic duo of Warren Barguil and Kévin Ledanois both crashed in the middle of the peloton before mounting a testy chase through the team cars.
As the crosswinds hit and the peloton split, Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) hit the ground as the peloton manoeuvred around a central reservation in the road. Jonas Koch (CCC Team) was flung from his bike and looked to be nursing his back in the aftermath.
Roche, Ledanois and Koch finished the stage almost 11 minutes down on winner Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), while Formolo rolled in 15 minutes down, but won't continue on Wednesday.
Rider safety has been a hot topic since the restart of racing in late July, with Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) suffering severe facial injuries after a crash at the Tour de Pologne, his teammate Remco Evenepoel fracturing his pelvis after going over a low bridge wall at Il Lombardia, and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) dislocating his shoulder on a poorly maintained descent at the Critérium du Dauphiné, among others.
The UCI announced that they would strengthen race safety inspections in the wake of the incidents, shortly after several team managers – including Patrick Lefevere of Deceuninck-QuickStep and Richard Plugge of Jumbo-Visma – had discussed creating a special fund to pay for independent experts to inspect race routes.
The Tour's opening stage in Nice also saw countless crashes in the peloton as pouring rain turned the roads into a near-skating rink.
Riders agreed a go-slow on the stage, and a number of influential riders created a chat group along with members of the CPA rider's union in order to have more of a say about safety and race conditions.
Earlier on Tuesday, EF Pro Cycling boss Jonathan Vaughters had spoken out about the stage 10 route on Twitter. Vaughters called the route "incredibly dangerous", adding that it might be more suited to a peloton of 25 riders, rather than the 166 which started the stage.
Route for today’s #TDF2020 is incredibly dangerous. I mean, it’d be fine if the peloton were 25 riders, or if it were 1908 and the guys were all 20 minutes apart from each other. But it’s not...September 8, 2020
#TDF2020 Unfortunately @davideformolo sustained a suspected fractured left clavicle in a crash during the stage. He managed to finished but will be taken to hospital for scans.#UAETeamEmirates #RideTogether pic.twitter.com/XCuzTzbBtXSeptember 8, 2020
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.
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