Orica-GreenEdge team mechanic Fausto Oppici was wearing a GoPro camera when he attended the scene of the crash on stage three of the Tour de France on Monday, showing the number of riders caught up in the incident.
At least six riders will not start today’s stage four today after the mass crash saw many riders suffer injuries, some serious.
Race leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was one of those caught up, somersaulting over his bike at the side of the road and fracturing two vertebrae. Remarkably, the Swiss rider managed to finish the stage but a medical examination in the evening revealed the extent of his injuries.
Dutch overall hope Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) broke his shoulder, Australian Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) fractured his wrist and Frenchman William Bonnet (FDJ) fractured a vertebrae and suffered lacerations. All withdrew during the stage after being injured in the crash.
Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) was another that finished the stage, but was later found to have fractured his collarbone. A later crash also saw Russian Dmitry Kozontchuk (Katusha) withdraw after fracturing his scapula and collarbone.
From aerial footage of the incident, which happened with 55km still to go until the finish on the Mur de Huy, it appeared as though Bonnet touched wheels with a rider in front. His position near the head of the peloton and the speed of the race at that point saw a swathe riders subsequently hit the deck.
The number of injuries was such that the race’s entire medical team and ambulances were called to the incident, leading race director Christian Prudhomme to halt and neutralise the race.
Many more riders were injured, but continued riding in the stage. Race radio initially said that Laurens Ten Dam (LottoNL-Jumbo) was one of those who had withdrawn, but his team later confirmed that his dislocated shoulder had been popped back into its socket and he continued.
Injured riders will now face a tough day ahead of them: stage four from Seraing to Cambrai features over 13 kilometres of cobbled sectors, which may be the cause of further crashes and incidents.
Video: Tour de France stage three highlights