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Bizarre Crashes

By We Love Cycling

The history of the Tour de France, or “la Grande Boucle” (“the Big Loop”) as the French call it, is packed full of bizarre accidents, crashes and pile-ups.

(Johnny Hoogerland in hospital. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

The prize for the funniest moment should go to Italy’s Napoleon Paoli, who while descending down a narrow mountain track in the 1920 Tour was greatly surprised by a stubborn donkey on the road around a blind turn. Poor Paoli, caught completely unaware, had no time to jam on the brakes and avoid crashing into the ass, which catapulted him off his bike. Ironically, the donkey took off along the same flight path as Paoli who then landed on its back.

The terrified beast bolted and all Paoli could do was cling on and wait. When the donkey finally stopped Paoli clambered off and ran the half-mile back to where he had flown off his bike, remounted and continued racing. It really wasn’t his lucky day though since shortly afterwards he was struck by a falling rock. Amazingly, he managed to stagger up to the top of Col du Tourmalet, where he fell asleep, exhausted.

(Johnny Hoogerland shortly after the crash. Photo: Profimedia.cz)

A close, notable second was in 2011 when Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland made an unwanted name for himself with a spectacular fall, somersaulting into a barbed-wire fence and suddenly stopping as he landed on a fence-post right between his legs.

Text: Jan Hanzlík