Italian general classification contender Vincenzo Nibali has dropped out of le Tour de France, after a collision in the final few kilometres of the race caused him to crash and break a vertebrae.

While it was first reported that a moto that did the damage, after changing direction unexpectedly in the midst of a flare, further footage of the incident has actually shown, or at least suggested, that there was no moto involved at all in the crash, but that a fan, who may or may not have been dressed as a smurf, caught Nibali's handlebars with his camera strap while the Italian superstar was cycling out of the flare and into the light.

Now there’s a sentence for you.

The fans were already taking the bulk of the blame for Nibali's crash even when people thought it was a collision with a moto, so if it was indeed the direct fault of somebody taking a photograph or being careless with their belongings, you can expect even further criticism of the famous fan layout on Alpe d'Huez to follow.


We’re still waiting to see a camera angle of the crash that really gives you all the details you need to find out what really happened, but several little clips have emerged on Twitter which suggest that there was no moto involved.

"The road became narrower and there were no barriers,” Nibali recalled after the race. “There were two police motorbikes. When Froome accelerated, I followed him, I was feeling good. Then we slowed down and I hit the ground."

Incredibly, Nibali managed to get back on his bike at the time and climb the final 3.8km of the Alpe d'Huez with a fractured vertebrae - and not only that, he managed to do it quickly.

There was a lot more security out in force than we’ve seen before at Alpe d’Huez, but perhaps it wasn’t enough, or wasn’t spread or deployed thoroughly enough.

Unfortunately, as well as Nibali, the loss here may be to the fans in the long term on Alpe d’Huez and the Tour de France. The atmosphere on the climb at Alpe d’Huez is indisputably one of the best in world road cycling, but once you start interfering with the race, you’re just asking for the organisers to get involved and introduce further preventative measures.


Supporters getting too close to riders, distracting riders and causing them to change their routes, however narrowly, has long been a problem in professional cycling, and with widespread criticism of the supporter base on Alpe d'Huez, it seems unlikely that in future races, things will continue exactly as they were.

Here’s wishing Vincenzo Nibali the quickest recovery possible.

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