Tour de France teams ask fans to behave better after mass pileup in 15th stage

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Belgium's Nathan van Hooydonck crashed during the fifteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 179 kilometers (111 miles) with start in Les Gets Les Portes du Soleil and finish in Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc, France, Sunday, July 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

SAINT-GERVAIS MONT-BLANC – Tour de France overall leader Jonas Vingegaard is calling on fans to behave better at cycling’s biggest race after another mass crash marred the 15th stage on Sunday.

“I’d like to tell the spectators to enjoy the race and be there to cheer for us without standing on the road or pouring beers on us," Vingegaard said. "Please, just enjoy the race.”

The Danish rider leads Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia by only 10 seconds with the race about to enter its final week.

The incident, which involved around two dozen riders, led to appeals from several teams at the Tour.

“Please be careful. So that the party remains a party for the riders, but also for you. You don’t need a cell phone to create mind-blowing memories,” the Cofidis team said amid unverified reports that the spectator who caused the crash was taking a selfie.

The Ineos Grenadiers team said “please give the riders room to race.”

A day after a big pileup forced several riders to abandon, the latest accident occurred after 52 kilometers (32 miles) when a spectator on the side of the road inadvertently touched American rider Sepp Kuss — a key teammate of Vingegaard — and sent him to the ground.

Fans gathering on the sides of roads and in villages as riders pass by is part of the tradition — and charm — of the Tour, but many spectators can take too many risks, including when they run alongside riders in mountain ascents.

Jumbo-Visma said Dylan van Baarle and Nathan van Hooydonck were among those who hit the tarmac on Sunday. Vingegaard was riding close to his teammates but escaped unscathed.

“The team felt pretty good today, although we of course had this crash that affected some of my teammates,” Vingegaard said.

Organizers also asked fans to “pay attention to the riders” after the incident which did not lead to any withdrawals.

Two years ago, a spectator brandishing a large cardboard sign while leaning into the path of oncoming riders led to a massive pileup during the opening stage.

Dutch veteran Wout Poels soloed to victory Sunday after the tough trek in the Alps.

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