Under-23 rider defies laws of physics as he grabs onto back of rival's bike to avoid crash

After swerving to avoid a dog, Ag2r U23 rider Valentin Retailleau instinctively grabbed onto the rider in front of him, with both somehow managing to stay upright

Trofeo Sportivi Sestesi
(Image credit: CiclismoLive)

There are many things in cycling that are seemingly unexplainable, but the way one Under-23 rider has managed to avoid crashing may have taken the top spot in all-time baffling two-wheeled phenomenon.

During an Italian U23 race at the weekend called Trofeo Sportivi Sestesi, there were three riders off the front in a breakaway move, two from Ag2r Citroën's U23 team and another from Italian Continental squad Team Beltrami.

Motorbike footage shows the leading Ag2r rider, Paul Lapeira, swerving to avoid a dog running back up towards the riders and race convoy, his movement unsettling the two riders in his wheel.

But what happens next needs to be seen to be believed.

The second Ag2r rider, Valentin Retailleau, starts to fall but grabs onto the back of Beltrami's Lorenzo Balestra, holding into his thighs as Balestra somehow manages to stay upright and slows at the side of the road.

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Retailleau manages to jump off and land on his feet as Balestra continues to ride, slamming his handlebars in frustration and shock before putting his hand up for mechanical assistance, the owner of the dog spotted running down the road after his lost pet.

"When you don't want to spoil yourself for the rest of the season. Once again unlucky this weekend...luckily I didn't damage the bodywork for the next few races!" Retailleau posted on Instagram after the race, then adding: "Grazie Lorenzo Balestra!"

"What balance!" heralded his Beltrami team. "Stunning crash but all worked out well in the end."

After the scare, Lapeira attempted to push on alone after this incident - not the most straightforward of tactics to dislodge a rival it has to be said - but his breakaway effort came to an end when he was caught with 12km to go.

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.


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I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.