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Tony Martin: The Tour de France is not a circus

BOLLNE FRANCE MARCH 11 Steven Kruijswijk of Netherlands and Team Jumbo Visma Tony Martin of Germany and Team Jumbo Visma during the 79th Paris Nice 2021 Stage 5 a 200km stage from Vienne to Bollne ParisNice on March 11 2021 in Bollne France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tony Martin (Jumbo Visma) was the first rider to fall in the first mass crash that marred stage 1 of the Tour de France when he struck a cardboard sign that a spectator had held out in front of him with 45km remaining.

The German and almost all of his Jumbo-Visma team came down in the incident, which held up much of the peloton and forced Jash Sütterlin (DSM) to abandon the race.

“I saw the lady, I saw the sign but at the last moment she turned the sign into the road so for me there was no time to react,” Martin said. “The move was pretty unexpected. I still can't understand how people can do things like that. We're here to race our bikes; it's not a circus.”

Tour organiser ASO announced on Saturday evening that it aims to sue the unidentified spectator who caused the crash. “We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this don't spoil the show for everyone,” deputy race director Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP.

Martin and his Jumbo-Visma team were all able to start stage 2 on Sunday morning, and the German confirmed that he had not sustained serious injury in the incident.

“Actually I don't feel too bad. The night was okay. I have no pain now on the bike. So I have to see from day-to-day but I hope that I can recover,” he said.

"The mechanics had a long night. There were a lot of bikes that were completely broken. The doctors had a lot of things to do too and in the next days with changing bandages. It's not a nice start to the Tour de France but we get used to it.”

Jumbo-Visma leader Primoz Roglic finished the opening stage on a teammate’s bike, but that didn’t prevent him from claiming third place behind Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and picking up a 4-second time bonus in the process.

Roglic was able to rely on the support of Wout van Aert in the elite leading group on the final climb, though Steven Kruijswijk – third overall at the 2019 Tour – conceded 1:49 after he was caught up in another crash in the finale.