Road Cycling

Tour de France Crashes | 17 of the Worst and Most Significant Tour de France Crashes in the History of the Race

The most important, memorable and downright painful crashes in the history of Le Tour de France...

Every year there are nasty crashes in the Tour de France, and we’re sure 2016 will be no exception. How will they rank next to the worst of all time though? We thought we’d take a look back through the history of the Tour de France so you can see how this years event compares.

1) Wim van Est’s Crash, the 1951 Tour de France


Wim van Est was victim to one of the most savage crashes in Tour de France history when he tumbled down a rocky ravine in the 1951 edition of the Tour de France.

The Netherlands rider was the first man from his country to wear the yellow jersey when he claimed it in 1951, and he was also the first – and only – one to fall down a ravine full of rocks while wearing it.

Wim’s slip came courtesy of a flat tyre and a big slip. The ravine was 70m deep, and the Dutch man wasn’t wearing a helmet. Having lived through WW2 though, he wasn’t going to be struggling here. With no major injuries, he got back up with the help of spectators and got back on the road… albeit to head straight to hospital.

2) Bernard Hinault’s Crash, the 1985 Tour de France


Having won the Tour de France four times already, you’d think that Bernard Hinault would have nothing to prove when he went into the 1985 Tour. Wrong. He still had to prove that he could win it five times!

The Frenchman was on route to doing exactly that when he was victim to one of the most catastrophic Tour de France crashes ever in the final moments of stage 14. Riding to the line in pursuit of Greg LeMond, Bernard became entangled in a five man crash.

Needing medical treatment, Hinault took only the essentials from doctors before riding across the finish line to hold on to the yellow jersey – which he would keep for the rest of the Tour despite having broken his nose in the crash.

3) Djamolidine Abdoujaparov’s Crash, the 1991 Tour de France


DJ A – as we’re going to call him due to his lengthy, unspellable name – won the Points classification on two attempts at Le Tour; in 1991 and 1993.

That first win finished with flames though, after Abdoujaparov crashed during the final stages of the race on the famous Champs-Elysees in Paris, colliding with the barriers just 100m before the finish and going flying through the air in enough style to give Tom Daly a run for his money.

The rider had enough points by that point to win the Green jersey regardless, but he still had to cross the line to get it. Members of Djamolidine’s team picked him up, got him back on the bike and he slowly rode the final stretch to claim his win with medical staff walking alongside him.

It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.

4) Laurent Jalabert’s Crash, the 1994 Tour de France


Rare is there a crash so bad it makes the rider involved re-evaluate their place in the sport, but that’s exactly what this nasty Tour de France crash did to Laurent Jalabert in 1994.

A sprinter at the time, Jalabert reinvented himself as an all-rounder with a focus on one-day races and tours, avoiding the sprint finishes, after colliding with a policeman who leant out and hit several riders at the finish of a stage.

Jalabert was thrown onto the ground, his bike was destroyed, there was more blood than a season finale of Game of Thrones, the Frenchman fractured his cheekbone, and as a result promised his wife he’d change his approach to cycling – which he duly did.

5) Giuseppe Guerini’s Crash, the 1999 Tour de France


There are few tolerable ways to crash out of the biggest race in the world, but crashing in the Tour de France because of a spectator must be up there with the most frustrating.

That was exactly the case for one of the most dramatic Tour de France crashes of all time, when Giuseppe Guerini fell at the hands of a member of the crowd during the final few metres of stage 10 back in the final year of the 20th century.

Guerini left Richard Virenque, who would win the King of the Mountains jersey, and Lance Armstrong, who would ultimately win/EPO his way to the first of his seven titles, in his wake on the famous climb up Alpe d’Huez.

In the final moments however, a spectator stepped out to take a photographer and struck Guerini in the process. Guerini went down, but luckily was able to recover and proceed unhurt.

6) Joseba Beloki’s Crash, the 2003 Tour de France


Spanish road cyclist Joseba Beloki was part of a group of riders chasing down would-be London 2012 Olympic road cycling gold medallist Alexandre Vinokourov, when he was sent flying on a hairpin bend.

Having finished second in the Tour de France in 2002, Beloki was sitting in second place overall behind a certain Lance Armstrong, just 40 seconds back from the all-American do-gooder.

A brutal heat wave had melted the tarmac ahead of Beloki, and with Armstrong on his back wheel during a high speed descent, he crashed out in brutal style, fracturing his femur, elbow and wrist in the process. He wouldn’t ride again until the following here.

The only upside of all this is that Lance Armstrong was forced to ride through a field for a bit and carry his bike over a ditch for a bit before getting back on. He still went on to win the race, but we’re pretty sure he had his title stripped that year for one reason or another. Can’t quite remember why.

7) Marcus Burghardt’s Crash, the 2007 Tour de France


This crash wasn’t particularly important to be honest, but it was because of a dog. A rather lovely dog if you ask us. And we refuse to write any list of crashes in the Tour de France where we don’t include the time Marcus Burghardt snapped his front wheel in half falling over a Golden Retriever.

Of course, Marcus isn’t the only Tour rider to have a bit of bad luck at the hands of a dog. Just ask Sandy Cesar from the same year of the Tour…

8) Sven Krauss’ Crash, the 2008 Tour de France


German rider Sven Krauss caused quite the dose of drama when he flew through the air after losing a battle with a bump in the road in stage 13 of the 2008 Tour.

While he managed to walk away from the crash, his bike certainly didn’t, breaking in half on impact. That’s not one the manufacturers will be slapping on their posters.

9) Oscar Pereiro’s Crash, the 2008 Tour de France


This video tells the tale, really. 2006 Tour de France winner Pereiro was forced into a skid after a rider he was tailing took a tumble, and unable to control his bike, he crashed rather dramatically over the side barrier at the side of the road.

He walked away with a broken arm, which given the circumstances, he was probably thankful for.

10) Jens Voigt’s Crash, the 2009 Tour de France


One of the most terrifying televised moments in the history of road cycling has to be Jens Voigt’s crash coming down the col du Petit Saint Bernard.

Travelling as fast as 60mph, his front wheel slipped sending him head-over-handlebars and flying face first into the ground. A motorcycle just about avoided him, but the cameras streamed Voigt lying still on the road for enough minutes to make the most passive viewer anxious.

In the end, a heavy concussion and a fractured cheekbone was the damage done. It could’ve been so much worse.

11) Jonny Hoogerland’s Crash, the 2011 Tour de France


If you’re squeamish, look away now. Even reading about this brutal Tour de France crash is likely to make you nauseous.

The rivalry between cars and cyclists is nothing new, but you’d think that it’d stay out of the headline at the biggest cycling race in the world. Nope. Well, not in 2011 anyway, when Johnny Hoogerland, along with Juan Antonio Flecha, was knocked into a barbed wire fence by a passing press car.

The crash left Hoogerland with lasting back pain and insomnia, and put an end to his bid to win the mountain jersey, which he had won on the sixth stage, kept through the seventh, and had managed to recapture in the ninth, in the same stage where the accident occurred.

Hoogerland finished the stage despite losing 17 minutes, and went on to finish the entire tour as well. Some man. He still rides on today, currently for Team Roompot.

12) Alexandre Vinokourov’s Crash, the 2011 Tour de France


There was absolute carnage in the 2011 edition of the Tour at the foot of the Col du Pas de Peyrol, which riders had just descended in the rain.

Kazakhstan’s Olympic road cycling gold medallist Alexandre Vinokourov ended up with a fractured leg, while fellow contenders Jurgen Van den Broeck and Dave Zabriskie were also forced to pull out of the race as a result of the pile up.

13) Mark Cavendish’s Crash, the 2014 Tour de France


Poor old Mark Cavendish was hoping to win the Tour de France in 2014, so when he crashed early doors and broke his shoulder, it was devastating not only for Mark but for British fans and for the Tour as a whole.

Mark took responsibility for this crash, saying after that he would “personally apologise” to Simon Gerrans, who he bumped into, in the stage in Harrogate, England.

14) Chris Froome’s Crash, the 2014 Tour de France


Another tough one to take for fans of Team Sky and British supporters, Olympic road cyclist Chris Froome was looking to defend his 2013 Tour de France yellow jersey and hopes were high he could do exactly that.

Unfortunately the Kenyan-born and now two-time Tour winner went down twice in stage five and was forced to abandon with cuts to his wrist and legs.

Le Tour de France Preview 2016: Who are the Favourites to Win the Yellow Jersey?

He’s one of the favourites for the 2016 Tour de France of course, so perhaps he’ll have better luck defending his crown this time around.

15) Alberto Contador’s Crash, the 2014 Tour de France


Spanish Two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador was right in the mix for the yellow jersey when he crashed out in heartbreaking fashion on stage 10, breaking his tibia.

With Contador, Froome and Cav out of the picture, Vincenzo Nibali was cleared to ride to the most dominant yellow jersey victory since 1997, more than seven minutes ahead of the eventual second placed Jean-Christophe Peraud.

16) The Big Peloton Crash, the 2015 Tour de France


A crash in the peloton can, and almost always does, cause absolute carnage. One man going down can bring the lot down, and that’s near enough what happened when the peloton crashed in the Tour de France in 2015, as the likes of Fabian Cancellara was thrown head over handlebars and forced out of the competition with a fractured vertebrae.

Four other riders had to abandon the Tour as well after being brought down like a bunch of skittles in a bowling alley.

17) Sagan vs. Cavendish, the 2017 Tour de France

The crash that launched a million arguments! It was stage four of the 2017 Tour de France when World Champion Peter Sagan – chasing a record-equalling sixth consecutive green jersey – elbowed and (arguably) took down Mark Cavendish in the final sprint, as the riders got within 200m of the line.

Sagan rode on to second place in the stage only to find out later he had been disqualified from the entire event for the incident. Cavendish was forced to withdraw from the contest with injury.

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