Sagan, racing in white world champion jersey with rainbow stripes, suddenly fell hard on the rough grey and dusty cobble sector after the climb. He had been leading the chase of solo leader and eventual winner Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors). With 16.9km to race, he trailed by 59 seconds.
A video obtained by Cycling Weekly shows a black jacket innocently propped on the metal barriers separating the fans from the cyclists led to Sagan’s end. Racing along the left gutter, his left brake/shifter lever snagged the fan’s jacket and caused his front wheel to turn immediately towards the barrier. A split-second later, he hit the foot of the barrier, tumbled and landed on his right hip.
Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) chased behind him and crashed, as well. Only Van Avermaet could return to his bike immediately. Sagan lost time both stunned by the incident and stalled by a broken rear wheel and derailleur. He continued, but in the groups behind and settled for 27th place.
Sagan’s German WorldTour team pleaded to fans to post any footage they may have to clarify the incident.
“I hope again that all those phones that are around can show something new bring some light to what happened,” Bora sports director Patxi Vila said. “Nothing will change, but we can understand what happened.”
Sagan saw other images posted in the last 24 hours and commented in Twitter. He said, “Video that shows my crash at the [Ronde] was caused by a jacket that caught my left arm. These things happen in races.”
He raced to defend his title and explained that he could have had a chance if the jacket had not stopped him.
“I think I could’ve gone on to catch Gilbert, for that reason I was going how I was,” Sagan said yesterday. “I had strong companions with me, I thought I could re-catch on, for that reason we were going strong. Just that destiny didn’t want it.”
Sagan underwent checks at the hospital yesterday. He explained to Cycling Weekly standing at the door of the Oudenaarde hospital that he hurt his right hip. However, it seems he is ready to return for Paris-Roubaix next Sunday.