The crash in question occurred with a little more than 100km remaining as riders fought for position on the approach to the Muur van Geraardsbergen with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan working hard to keep the pace high on the front.
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Footage of the crash appears to show Tony Martin, on the left of the picture, moving right across the road and Groupama-FDJ rider Antoine Duchesne crashing at high-speed into a ditch. That set off a chain reaction that brought down a number of other riders including Oliver Naesen, Michael Valgren, and Ian Stannard.
With no overhead footage of the crash, it is unclear exactly who was to blame for causing the pile-up, but there was little doubt in the minds of Duchesne and his Groupama-FDJ team-mates who took to Twitter to accuse Martin of causing the crash.
Duchesne kicked off the accusations by tweeting a link to the video of the crash, with the caption “What happened when @tonymartin85 doesn’t want to get passed. Squeezed me right into the ditch #classy.”
Duchesne’s Groupama-FDJ team-mate Jacopo Guarnieri also weighed in on the issue, saying “I would like to congratulate @tonymartin85 for the extremely intelligent move that caused the crash of @tonythetiger_1 !! Well done!!”, to which Davide Cimolai replied “He should just do the individual time trial. 90% of riders don’t like him.”
Neither Martin nor his Katusha-Alpecin team have had anything to say about the crash or the allegations of the Groupama-FDJ riders.
However, there might be a few awkward conversations at the Katusha-Alpecin dinner table in the run-up to Paris-Roubaix after it was noticed that Rick Zabel, the Katusha rider who was brought down in the crash and suffered cuts to both legs, had “liked” Guarnieri’s tweet.