Helicopter pilot taken off Tour of Oman after blowing barriers across road on stage 3

Barriers were blown across the road by a TV helicopter at the finish of stage 3 of the 2023 Tour of Oman
Barriers were blown across the road by a TV helicopter at the finish of stage 3 of the 2023 Tour of Oman (Image credit: OmanSportsTV)

Stage 3 of the Tour of Oman, finishing atop Jabal Hatt, was notable for playing host to Matteo Jorgenson's debut pro victory, but half a minute after the American triumphantly crossed the line there was carnage on the finishing straight.

As a group led by Bora-Hansgrohe's Ben Zwiehoff and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty's Louis Meintjes was racing to the finish, a section of finish-line barriers flew into the road, blocking the route for the 10 riders battling over 16th place.

The culprit was a helicopter for Omani TV which had flown too low to capture images of the finish, inadvertently blowing the barriers out of position and holding up the group of riders.

As finish line cameras showed Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Niklas Eg (Uno-X) and Jan Hirt (Soudal-QuickStep) crossing the line, the barriers could be seen moving across the road in the background, with several race officials rushing to pull them out of the way.

Luckily, none of the riders affected by the incident were injured – unlike stage 4 of the 2020 Giro d'Italia where Luca Wackermann was hospitalised in a similar incident. However, the helicopter pilot has now been taken off the race and replaced with a new pilot for the remaining two stages.

Click below to view the incident as caught on cameras at the finish

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Meanwhile, UCI commissaires at the race have awarded 20 seconds to the group of riders held up from 16th place down to 25th.

The riders given time back were Zwiehoff and his teammate Emanuel Buchmann, Meintjes, Michel Ries (Arkéa-Samsic), Jaakko Hänninen (AG2R Citroën), Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto-Dstny), Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), Giovanni Carboni (Kern Pharma), and Bingoal pair Floris De Tier and Lennert Teugels.

The group of riders are now classified as finished 25 seconds down. Teugels, Rochas, Buchmann, Meintjes, De Tier, Moniquet and Hänninen all lie equal on time heading into stage 4, 40 seconds down on race leader Jorgenson.

Several of the men took to Twitter following the stage to comment on the incident.

"Wild finale here in Oman," Zwiehoff wrote, taking the hold-up in good humour. "The barrier was a bit too high to bunny hop."

Ries, meanwhile, looked at it in the context of rider safety, writing, "Luckily we could just avoid the barriers flying on the road at the finish of today's stage! But things like that should definitely not happen! Imagine this happening during a bunch sprint!"

The Tour of Oman continued on Tuesday with a 205km stage through the Yitti Hills and will conclude on Wednesday with the traditional Green Mountain summit finish.

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