The opening stage of the Vuelta a San Juan 2020 was disrupted by a huge crash caused by a spectator in the final.
An all-star peloton lined up in Argentina for stage one on Sunday (January 26), as the sprinters took their first opportunity.
But the dash for the line was marred by a major collision around 3.5km from the line, when a fan stood too close to the peloton clipped a rider and sent him across the peloton.
The chain reaction saw a large group of riders go down as the peloton was split in half.
Among those who crashed was Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
The Belgian finished 1-16 down on the stage winner after the crash, but the race jury later decided to neutralise the time gaps caused by the fall.
A statement from the commissares said: “After the crash that happened on the first stage, which happened 3.5km from the finish line, after watching a video that clearly shows the crash was caused by a spectator when he touched the handlebar of a rider, the commissaires panel has taken the decision to give the same time to all the riders that were in the bunch at the moment of the crash.”
The ensuing chaotic sprint finish was won by Frenchman Rudy Barbier, riding for Israel Start-Up Nation.
Big name sprinters missed out on the stage in the melee, with Álvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step) finishing fifth, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in sixth and Fernando Gaviria in ninth.
Gaviria said: “The stage went well, none of the team crashed which is always good. We worked to try and win the stage but there was confusion in the end after the crash.
“Tomorrow is another good stage for us and an opportunity to go for the win, so we will be hoping for a good result.”
Vuelta a San Juan is a seven-stage race around the San Juan province in western Argentina.
The 2.Pro-ranked race attracts cycling stars, including Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step) who notched up two stage wins in last year’s edition.