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Crashes mar stage 10 of the Tour de France

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SAINTMARTINDERE FRANCE SEPTEMBER 08 Nicholas Roche of Ireland and Team Sunweb Crash Injury during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 10 a 1685km stage from ile dOleron Le Chateau dOleron to ile de Re Saint Martin de Re TDF2020 LeTour on September 08 2020 in Saint Martin de Re France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Nicolas Roche battling back from a crash on stage 10 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Casper Phillip Pedersen of Team Sunweb and Robert Gesink of Team Jumbo Visma pictured during a fall in the ninth stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race from Ile dOleron Le ChateaudOleron to Ile de Re SaintMartindeRe 1685km in France Tuesday 08 September 2020 This years Tour de France was postponed due to the worldwide Covid19 pandemic The 2020 race starts in Nice on Saturday 29 August and ends on 20 September BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images

Roche on the ground after a mass crash in the middle of the stage (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Toms Skujinš (Trek-Segafredo) suffered painful road rash after crashing

Toms Skujinš (Trek-Segafredo) suffered painful road rash after crashing (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) fights back after crashing

Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) fights back after crashing (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Team Bahrain rider Italys Damiano Caruso is helped after crashing during the 10th stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 170 km between Le Chateau dOleron and Saint Martin de Re on September 8 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Damiano Caruso (Bahrain McLaren) in pain after crashing along with Tadej Pogačar and more (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

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.