Spanish stage racer Marc Soler (Movistar) is considering legal action against the fan who caused the first major crash on the opening day of the Tour de France, which led to his second abandon of a Grand Tour this year through injury.
Caught up in the pileup caused by the fan with the placard Soler finished stage 1 last, just ahead of the broom wagon. He then did not start on stage 2 as he had fractures to his elbows and wrist.
Soler also fell heavily in the Giro d’Italia and had to abandon on stage 12. He returned to racing at the Tour de Suisse, only for another crash to see him out of the Tour de France after the first day.
"I don't know what to do, I'm thinking of taking the spectator to court, because that's an entire Tour canned and I feel very angry," he told La Vanguardia newspaper.
"The Giro was really frustrating because it was a race I had prepared for over a long time and I had a great opportunity. But the Tour is even worse, because it wasn't just a race incident, it was because of a spectator who obviously doesn't like cycling. All that preparation has gone into the bin."
"The fall happened at a point in the race where the road narrowed and we were trying to be well-placed, we were near the front and then I saw all the Jumbo-Visma riders going down and [Mike] Teunissen crashed right in front of me. I went flying, somersaulted and landed hard on my hands. They both hurt, and so did my face where my glasses had broken and my shoulder too. I tried to get up but I couldn't, I didn't have any strength in my arms."
"The mechanic pulled me up by my armpits, and I sat on the side of the road, I was really dizzy. There were still 50 kilometres to go. They [the team] told me to try to go on but I don't know how I did, I couldn't change gear or brake. When I got to the finish, I was worried about the time limit, but I couldn't even get my clothes off in the bus, they had to cut them off with scissors. Then when we got to the medical truck, they confirmed my injuries."
Soler did not need an operation on his injuries, he told the newspaper, although he has his arm in a sling and is using a wrist protector to keep it stable. He will be four weeks off the bike completely and although he is hoping to ride a race before the year is over, he says he believes he has no chance of doing the Vuelta a España, where he won a stage in spectacular style in Navarre in the first week.
The Spaniard also strongly criticised the CPA riders association for failing to defend their interests, and the UCI for, he alleged, "only worrying about stupid measures like the bidons" – and whether they can be thrown away outside specified zones – "but failing to be interested in serious things like our safety."
"The CPA knows how to operate when it comes to holding out its hand [for money]" he told La Vanguardia, "but when it comes to actual work, it barely does the job."
"This is a business, everybody looks after their own interests, and it's us bike riders who carry the can."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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