France Television vehicle excluded from Tour after collision

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has been left livid following the accident in which Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vaconsoleil) were hit by a vehicle from France Television on stage 9 between Issoire and Saint-Flour. Race organisers announced that the car would be excluded from the remainder of the race.

It was the second incident in the Tour's opening week, with a motorbike carrying a photographer collecting Saxo Bank's Nicki Sørensen on Wednesday.

Hoogerland and Flecha were riding in the day's five-man breakaway when the vehicle swerved into the middle of the road in order to avoid side-swiping a tree that was on the verge. Hoogerland sustained serious lacerations, while Flecha lost skin and was heavily bruised - both riders were able to complete the stage.

Christian Prudhomme said that the offending car had not taken directives from race radio.

"I announced on Radio Tour, which is the channel everyone should be listening to, that all cars should pull to the side and give priority to the team cars," he explained.

"The car previously received the order from the race direction not to pass and let the Europcar team manager get through to the breakaway to give Thomas Voeckler the bottle he was asking for. They did not take that order into account... and caused the crash of both riders. This behaviour is intolerable."

Prudhomme concluded by apologising to the teams and riders, saying that the incidents involving the convoy was "two accidents too many."

France Television, host broadcaster for the event, issued an apology over the incident.

"France Television apologises to the riders, the teams and to the ASO for the accident during the ninth stage of the Tour de France which was caused by a technical assistance vehicle covering the race," it announced via statement.

"France Television will respect fully the measures which will be taken by the ASO to improve safety."

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