30-woman pile-up at Tour de France Femmes brings race to a halt

Watch: Mass pile-up overshadows stage five at Tour de France Femmes before Lorena Wiebes sprints to victory - EUROSPORT / GCN+
Watch: Mass pile-up overshadows stage five at Tour de France Femmes before Lorena Wiebes sprints to victory – EUROSPORT / GCN+

Lorena Wiebes triumphed on a chaotic fifth stage of the Tour de France Femmes which was marred by a shocking crash involving multiple riders, with one forced to have their leg untangled from their own wheel.

It was a second stage win for the Dutch DSM rider, who also claimed victory in Sunday’s opener in Paris, after a dominant four-rider breakaway was reeled in at the bottom of the Vosges mountains in eastern France.

Earlier, there were scenes of chaos as around 30 bodies and carbon bikes piled up in the middle of the road on the Tour’s 175.6 kilometre marathon stage – the longest ever in the modern era of women’s cycling – from Bar-le-Duc to Saint-Dié-Des-Vosges.

Britain’s Lizzie Holden was one of four riders from the Le Col-Wahoo team who ploughed into the crash when one rider came down in the middle of the bunch with 45 kilometres remaining. While the 24-year-old emerged from the pile-up unscathed, she admitted to being shaken up by the incident, which guillotined the peloton in two.

“We were all together and it just happened so quickly, you don’t really have time to stop,” said Holden. “I guess it was at a point when we were all relaxed and there was a bit of fatigue. Maybe there was a touch of wheels or something.

“I was further back than the other girls, so I didn’t have any damage, I just had to change bikes, but some of the other girls came off a lot worse. Hopefully they’ll be okay but it was stressful, four of us had to have a bike change – my handlebars turned the other way.

“For me personally, I’m a bit scared in the peloton at times so after things like that, I tend to hold back a bit more. It’s also really horrible seeing so many girls on the floor. You see some that don’t move for ages, it’s crazy and it’s really not nice to see. It’s part of bike racing, but we still come back every day.”

With bikes blocking the road, it took some riders three minutes again to get going again. One unidentified rider from EF Education-Tibco-SVB had to have their leg physically removed from the spoke of her wheel, while Norwegian Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) was taken to hospital in a neck brace.

As the peloton dusted itself down, Italian rider Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ), who was one of the victims of the huge pile-up, could be seen riding away with a bloodied elbow.

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) extended her lead over Silvia Persico (Movistar) after earning a 4sec time bonus for finishing third behind Wiebes and world champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo). Vos takes a 20sec lead over Persico into Friday’s stage with Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram) in third on the same time.

It had been a furious start to the stage, with the peloton averaging a blistering 57km/h before a breakaway group of Emily Newsom (EF Education-Tibco-SVB), Anya Louw (AG Insurance-NXTG), Victoire Berteau (Cofidis) and Antri Christoforou (Human Powered Health) gained more than three minutes on the chasing peloton. But they were caught as they approached the final climb of the day, the Côte de Haut-Bois.

The race heads towards the border with Switzerland on Friday ahead of the mountain stages that await at the end of the Tour. Having maintained her impressive record of finishing in the top five of every stage so far, Vos appears to be in control, but seconds in the sprint do not compare to minutes in the mountains.

Published by anthonyhayble

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