A video has surfaced online of a horse galloping through the peloton at a bike race, and has been watched by over eight million people in under 24 hours.
Shared on Tuesday afternoon on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, the archive footage shows a silky brown horse leap over a fence, out of its paddock, and into the fast-moving bunch.
It then careers through to the front of the group to lead the race.
“What extraordinary images,” the French commentary says. “This is a safety problem for the riders. They’ll have to really watch out.”
A horse sneaks into....the tour de France. 😂pic.twitter.com/6gpOODGlmfSeptember 26, 2023
Although originally thought to have taken place at the Tour de France, the incident is actually from the 1997 Critérium International, a three-stage race held in the south of France.
The horse’s cameo came on stage one, and was later remembered by sprinter Frédéric Moncassin in poetic detail. “When it jumped and landed on the road, it was impressive, the sound of the hooves, the sparks, the horse's breath,” the Frenchman told La Dépêche du Midi.
So spellbinding was the sight that, four years later, the film director Jean-Pierre Jeunet inserted the footage into his movie Amélie, now a cult classic in French cinema.
The stage was eventually won by Frenchman Stéphane Barthe, after the commissaires temporarily neutralised the race.
In the years that have followed, several other farm animals have found celebrity with appearances in bike races.
At the 2011 Critérium du Dauphiné, Mikel Landa crashed at speed into a cow traipsing on the course. The Spaniard, then of Euskaltel-Euskadi, broke his collarbone and had to abandon the race.
In 2017, on stage six of the Tour of Poland, an untethered pony nestled itself in the peloton and ran through a village, before it was marshalled to the side of the road by a rider.
An incident also arose earlier this year in the women’s race at Strade Bianche. En route to Siena, a horse - similar in appearance to the one from the 1997 Critérium International - emerged in front of SD Worx's Demi Vollering, causing the Dutchwoman to shriek loudly.
The errant horse led the race for a kilometre or so, before it slid out on a lefthand gravel bend and tumbled off the road.
“Zlatana is fine,” the horse’s owner wrote on Facebook after the event. “A few days of antibiotics, a lot of fear, but in the end everything ended well.”
Farm animal sightings have even come as recent as this week. On Monday, a cow chased the peloton in San Carlos, Costa Rica, with the incident caught on film from the race convoy.
🇨🇷 - VACA SE UNE A CARRERA DE CICLISTAS 📌Una vaca se unió a una carrera de ciclistas en San Carlos, Costa Rica. El video se ha viralizado en redes sociales. 📌La situación para muchos fue tan graciosa que comenzaron a grabar el momento, ya que la vaca recorrió varios… pic.twitter.com/2ikVk9j9Z2September 25, 2023
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