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FDJ boss calls for Frain's removal from Tour de France Femmes after Cavalli crash

EPERNAY FRANCE JULY 26 Nicole Frain of Australia and Team Parkhotel Valkenburg crosses the finishing line during the 1st Tour de France Femmes 2022 Stage 3 a 1336km stage from Reims to pernay TDFF UCIWWT on July 26 2022 in Epernay France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Nicole Frain on stage 3 of the Tour de France Femmes (Image credit: Getty Images)

FDJ-SUEZ Futuroscope's manager Stephen Delcourt believes Nicole Frain (Parkhotel Valkenburg) should have played no further part in the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, after the horrific crash that saw the Australian Champion collide into Marta Cavalli during stage 2. 

"If I was Nicole Frain, I would not be starting the race today," Delcourt told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 3 in Reims on Tuesday.

"But I am not her, nor her director, nor the organisation."

Parkhotel Valkenburg director Bart Faes told Cyclingnews that he will not remove Frain from the Tour de France Femmes because he doesn't believe that she intentionally caused the crash.

"It was not [Nicole Frain's] intention to do this, no, for sure, no. It was not her intention to hurt someone else, no, that cannot be her intention," Faes said.

"If we felt that was her intention, for sure, we would take her out [of the race].  No, it was not her intention."

Frain was being paced back up to the peloton by a teammate following a separate crash earlier on stage 2, and the pair had nearly reached the back of the peloton when another crash ahead saw Amanda Spratt (BikeExchange-Jayco) go down with 25km to go.

As Cavalli attempted to manoeuvre around Spratt, Frain raced through the field, hitting Cavalli from behind at a speed reported to be upwards of 60km/h.

"With a crash like this, it's really hard to see it, we don't work for that. It was hard to describe. I imagined a bad scenario about that and I thought of Marta and her family - how is it possible that this happened?" Delcourt said.

Medical staff confirmed that Cavalli suffered head and lower body trauma and she was taken to hospital for further examination. She remained under medical supervision but returned to her team on Monday evening.

"Marta is good. Yesterday when she came back, it was like having a family member come back into the family house. We are very happy this morning because she slept, not well, but she slept. She had breakfast and spoke with her teammates," Delcourt said. 

"She is with the team, supporting the team. She will transfer all her spirit onto the five riders."

Social media backlash

Frain got up from the crash and finished the stage 86th at 3:22 behind stage winner Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). Her immediate response to the crash indicated that she mistakenly thought she saw a gap that she could fit through. 

However, she later claimed she didn't see the crash as she issued an apology, saying: "Naturally, this was never my intention and I am sorry for those involved."

Faes said he was happy to know that Cavalli was recovering and back with her team, and that he wished her well. He also said that both he and Frain attempted to reach out to the FDJ-SUEZ Futuroscope team iut of concern for Cavalli and to apologize. 

"We were scared that she had a big injury and that is the last thing that should happen," Faes said.

He went on to explain further what had happened with his Parkhotel Valkenburg riders in the moments before the crash.

"Nicole was coming back from a crash on the wheel of her teammate, [Anne van Rooijen]. They came back, I told her teammate to pass on the left side of the peloton, and then at that moment there was a cash," he said. 

"You need one or two seconds to have a reaction. They were going 63km/h, if you don't look for one second, and it happens, you are 15 metres forward, and that happens. She said she thought there was a gap. She didn't realized what happened, didn't see the crash. That was the big thing," he said.

"We are happy that there was no [serious injury] with Cavalli but also that nothing with our riders. Anne was was going very fast on the left, there was no time for them to brake. We are very ... for us it's also really hard what happened."

Reactions across social media have been swift. Some have compared this incident to the crash Dylan Groenewegan caused at the Tour of Poland in 2020, that left Fabio Jakobson with life-threatening injuries. Others have suggested officials  should remove Frain from the event for what they believe was dangerous riding in the peloton.

"All the reactions of Twitter and all that bullshit, all the people who are not in the race, and can't see what happens... She tried to brake, she could not brake [in time] of course," Faes said.

"This is really different [to the Groenewegan cash]. That was a bunch sprint and this was very different from it. You have to react in one second, across 50 metres looking over the peloton, and you really don't see what happens.

"The riders had a bad night mentally, and staff also, We try to block the [social media] but she reads it, of course, and she was crying. We spoke a few minutes, maybe there are some reactions [in the peloton] today but it wasn't so big that she wants to leave. Most people in cycling in the race know what happened, and that is the most important. It's never the plan to hurt someone."

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