Riders crash as helicopter flies over Vuelta a España stage six finish

AG2R La-Mondiale rider Julien Duval needed stitches after hitting the tarmac

The peloton with helicopter above during the stage. Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Riders hit the deck after the finish line on stage six of the Vuelta a España and some have blamed the race helicopter for pushing barriers across the road and into their path.

The stage was characterised by high winds which split the peloton into echelons en route to a bunch sprint in San Javier. Mar Menor - which was won by Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis).

Several riders crashed during the 155.7 kilometre stage - notably the peloton was split with a get-down 26 kilometres from the line, following unsuccessful negotiations with bollards in the central reservation.

However, there was time for more crashes after the line - when it seems the turbulence caused by a helicopter sent a barrier across the road, where riders quickly became entangled.

AG2R La-Mondiale rider Julien Duval was caught up in the crash, and tweeted on Thursday evening, saying: "Thanks to @lavuelta helicopter : result 2 suture points [stitches]."

He later confirmed the stitches had been "in the groin."

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Team mate Tony Gallopin added: "Hey @lavuelta, it's not normal to crash after the finish line because of the helicopter ... Fortunately Julien Duval is ok!"

Several videos of the incident show debris being blown around and the sound of a helicopter can be heard over commentary and fans.

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Several Movistar riders just missed the barrier - something Nairo Quintana offered up thanks for - he said: "Thank God and Virgencita [Virgin Mary] for the miracle of saving us," tagging team mates Alejandro Valverde, Imanol Erviti and Richard Carapaz.

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Friday's stage sees riders come up against a hilly 185km from Puerto Lumbreras to Pozo Alcón.

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper, where highlights included interviewing a very irate Freddie Star (and an even more irate theatre owner), as well as 'the one about the stolen chickens'.

Previous to joining the Cycling Weekly team, Michelle was Editor at Total Women's Cycling. She joined CW as an 'SEO Analyst', but couldn't keep her nose out of journalism and in the spreadsheets, eventually taking on the role of Tech Editor before her latest appointment as Digital Editor. 

Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.

Michelle is on maternity leave from July 8 2022, until April 2023.