Chris Froome and Philippe Gilbert save fan who fell down ravine on Tour de France stage 17

The incident occurred on the descent of the Col du Portet as the riders made their way back to the buses

Chris Froome
(Image credit: Getty)

Chris Froome and Philippe Gilbert are known for their heroics on the bike but on stage 17 of the Tour de France their heroism was more reminiscent of first responders, or the characters in a Marvel film, as they helped a fan who had crashed 20 metres into a ravine on a descent.

After crossing the summit finish atop the Col du Portet, Froome, Gilbert and BikeExchange's Christopher Juul-Jensen were all descending back down the mountain to their team buses.

As they made their way down the 16.4km-long HC climb with an average gradient of 8.6 per cent, they saw a fan ahead of them miss a bend and plummet off the side of the road.

"After the race, we were descending to the foot again when we saw a cycling tourist miss a bend and fall about twenty meters down. Together with Froome and Juul-Jensen I stopped to help him," Gilbert told Belgian radio station RTBF.

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 Gilbert reveals they spent about 20 minutes helping the fallen cyclist, and his injuries were so severe they had to call the emergency services.

"These are things that almost never get in the press, but that is also part of the Tour. We lost almost 20 minutes to help that man. We had to call the emergency services because he was seriously damaged."

Philippe Gilbert at the 2018 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty)

"I was coming down from the Col du Portet and there was a guy just in front of me who hit some gravel on a corner, and managed to hold it up, but in the process went through the apex of the bend and straight over the edge just in front of me," Froome told Cycling Weekly at the start of stage 19. "Naturally, I stopped to try and see if he was alright and try and call an ambulance to help him because he definitely seemed quite out of it, and to me as if he had a concussion. He definitely needed to be checked out medically. That’s the unfortunate side of bike riding that we all know too well."

Saying this incident is 'part of the Tour', Gilbert is not just referring to the vast swathes of fans who cycle up and down the mountains of the Tour de France in the hours before and after the pros pass, scenes regularly becoming chaotic, but he speaks from personal experience, having previously crashed on another Pyrenean descent.

Gilbert had been on the attack on stage 16 during the 2018 Tour, and as he descended the Col de Portet d'Aspet he crashed over a wall on a bend, falling four metres into the ravine and producing one of the iconic images of that race.

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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.

Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).

I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.