Riders praise race organisation at Etoile de Bessèges after heavy crashes on stage two

One incident left a rider hanging from a bridge in the aftermath

Greg van Avermaet
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Riders involved in the Etoile de Bessèges stage race have praised the race organisation for its quick response to stage two's dramatic crash, which left a rider hanging from a small bridge.

The terrifying incident took place with approximately 24 kilometres left to race as the riders reached a pinch point on the route, caused by a small stone bridge across a ravine.

Valentin Madouas of Groupama-FDJ praised the race organisation's quick response on social media after the incident which saw yesterday's stage subsequently neutralised.

Writing on social media, Madouas said: ”Congratulations to the organisers at Etoile de Besseges! The safety of the riders above all!”

After the crash had initially taken place, there was a hold up of more than 25 minutes while the race organisers decided what to do. Eventually the stage was cancelled due to a lack of ambulances and medical cars to safely continue in the event of further incidents.

Meanwhile Valentin Ferron (TotalEnergies) was fortunate to escape with “minor superficial wounds” after he was forced to cling onto the bridge to stop himself falling into the ravine below.

Thanks to some quick-thinking from Axel Laurence of Alpecin-Deceuninck, Ferron escaped further serious injury.

According to a report from Cyclingnews, Ferron said that the horrifying incident was “all a bit of a blur”. 

"I still don't really know how it all happened. There wasn't much time to really take in what was going on," he said.

"There was a big crash as we went onto the bridge, and I was obviously caught up, but then riders came in from behind, and somehow I'm bumped out to the right onto the wall of the bridge. I'm not really sure how, but I found myself suspended off the side of it. It was a very odd situation."

"I was panicking a bit. It was a pretty worrying situation. Even if I'd fallen, it wasn't that much of a drop, but I could have hurt my ankle or a knee. I guess I was aware, from looking over my shoulder, that it wasn't much of a drop, but it's difficult to process that at the time, and stay calm,” he added.

Speaking to Cycling Weekly after stage three, Greg van Avermaet explained that he felt the bridge incident was just a case of bad luck.

"I don't think it was a particularly small passage to get through, it was just bad luck," he said.

"There was a lot of pressure and one guy made a move which sent a wave effect through the peloton as one rider overlapped another. The problem is if you go down at 60 kmh with a lot of tension, there's no way out and everyone goes down."

"I don't think it was particularly dangerous as it was a straight road, so you can't blame organisation," he added. "It was just bad luck."

The incident brought back eerie memories of Remco Evenepoel’s horrendous crash at Il Lombardia in 2020, which saw the Belgian plummet into a ravine. Evenepoel fractured his pelvis and was ruled out of action for months afterwards.

This article was amended after publication to correct a social media post used.

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Tom Thewlis

Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. He has reported from a wide range of races and events including the Tour de France and World Championships.