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Tour de France

Tour de France: ASO withdraws case against fan who caused crash; Marc Soler considers legal action

Marc Soler broke both arms in the crash on stage 1 of the Tour de France but rode to the finish before abandoning. ASO withdraws its action against the spectator.

Marc Soler was one of many riders caught up in the spectator-caused crash at the Tour de France and now the Spaniard is considering legal action.

Soler was left with three fractures to his arms – the ulnar and radial head on the left and the radial on the right – in the mass pile-up inside 50km to go that was sparked by a fan with a cardboard sign standing in the road.

In a column for the La Vanguardia newspaper, Soler criticized the UCI and the riders’ union the CPA for failing to take measures to protect the peloton and said he was considering suing the spectator.

Also read: Officials arrest woman who provoked stage 1 crash at Tour de France

“I don’t know what to do, I think I will sue the spectator because it’s a whole Tour thrown away and I feel a lot of anger,” he said in the La Vanguardia newspaper.

“We have an organization, the CPA, which should defend us. They can put their hands out but do little work. And the UCI only cares about stupid measures like the one for bottles, but in serious things like our security, it doesn’t get involved. They are only for nonsense, but since the end of the month they must be doing well because they do not worry about anything else.”

Also read: Tour de France roundtable: Should ASO sue the fan who caused the stage 1 crash?

Tour de France organizer ASO has withdrawn its proposed legal action against the spectator, who was arrested by police Wednesday after an appeal for witnesses.

“The incident has been blown out of all proportion,” race director Christian Prudhomme told AFP. “So we’d like to calm things down now that the message has got across that the roadside fans need to be careful.”

Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin was the first member of the peloton to fall after clipping the fan’s sign. On a narrow road, the incident led to a chain reaction that felled much of the peloton.

Tightly packed together, many had nowhere to go, and some hit the tarmac very heavily. Jasha Sütterlin was forced to immediately abandon, while Soler was put back on his bike to ride to the finish.

“The fall came at a point where the road narrowed, and we were looking for positions,” said Soler. “We were going through to the front, which is the safest position in case there is an incident, and suddenly I saw the Jumbo fall to my right, and in front of me, I collided with [Mike] Teunissen.

“I flew, tumbled, and landed hard on my hands. They both hurt, as did my face where my glasses had broken and my shoulder too. I tried to stand up but couldn’t, I had no strength in my arms.

“The mechanic pulled me by the armpits, and I sat on the side of the road, I was really dizzy. There were still 50 kilometers to go. [The team] told me to try to continue but I don’t know how I did it, I couldn’t change gears or brake. When I got to the finish, I was worried about the time limit, but I couldn’t even get undressed on the bus, they had to cut them with scissors. Then when we got to the medical truck, they confirmed my injuries.”

The Tour de France abandonment is the second successive early grand tour departure for Soler this year after he left the Giro d’Italia during stage 12 following a crash.

“I am having a difficult year. First the crash at the Giro and now this. The Giro was really frustrating because it was a race that I had been preparing for a long time and I had a great opportunity. But the Tour is even worse, because it was not just a racing incident, it was because of a spectator who clearly does not like cycling. All this preparation went in the trash,” Soler said.

The Movistar rider is still hopeful of racing again this season, but he doesn’t expect there will be any more grand tours on his program in 2021.

“No surgery was necessary, and I can go without a cast if I behave well, which is what I am doing. I wear my arm in a sling and a wrist strap that immobilizes the area,” he said. “I have to spend between three and four weeks without doing anything, not even the rollers because I cannot support myself. This means losing all shape, as the body quickly adapts to rest. I hope to still [be in] a race, but I can say goodbye to the Vuelta a España.”