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The collapsed inflatable completely blocked the road just as the group of overall contenders approached the finish line. It is not currently clear how the collapse occurred.
Yates appeared to be one of the first riders to hit it, as he had attacked from the group on the Col d’Aspin, and could be seen sitting on the road with a deep cut to his chin. He subsequently required stitches to close the wound.
Orica-BikeExchange communications director Brian Nygaard said on Twitter that Yates was “bruised, disappointed, but otherwise OK after surreal encounter with last KM obstacle”.
All of the GC contenders group was then held up as spectators and race staff attempted to clear the inflatable from the road.
Stage winner Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) has passed under the flamme rouge first to take the stage victory, and the collapse looked to have taken place after race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) had also passed underneath it.
The finish times will be taken from the three-kilometre to go marker, so none of the GC contenders should lose time. That does mean that any time Yates gained within the final 3km would be lost – and the potential for him to take the white jersey of best young rider.
Prior to the inflatable incident, the 2016 Tour de France had been hailed as one of the safest in history, with all 198 riders starting the seventh stage for the first time.
Updated: The race jury subsequently ruled that Yates was seven seconds ahead of the main group. As a result he is now second in the general classification, and will be awarded the leading young rider’s white jersey before the start of stage eight. Read more here.