The final day of racing at Paris-Nice showcased the impressive talents of Tour de France contenders, including a dominant display by overall winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). However, the best bike skills of the day did not find a podium result, but instead paid dividends by avoiding disaster.
Somehow, a vehicle made its way onto the section of road on which riders were descending with a little more than half of the 117.5 kilometres of stage 8 remaining. A small group chasing the peloton managed to avoid a collision and it was all captured by broadcast cameras.
Florian Sénéchal (Soudal-QuickStep) posted a screenshot of the incident that was broadcast on Eurosport and GCN to his Twitter feed after the race concluded, saying “Another day in the death race”.
The race had exploded on the descent of the Côte de Châteauneuf, and shortly after cresting the category 2 Côte de Berre les Alpes, near disaster loomed.
Five riders had charged to the front of the race with 50.5km to go, Stefan Kung (Groupama FDJ), Clément Champoussin (Arkea Samsic), Oliver Naesen (AG2R-Citroën), Lucas Hamilton (Jayco AlUla) and Jan Tratnik (Jumlo-Visma), riding full throttle just 10 seconds ahead of a large group, with race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who had caught most of a breakaway. They were all completely unaware of the failure to completely shut down the course from local traffic behind them.
Broadcast cameras caught (opens in new tab) the incident as a second group of 11 chasers rounded a sweeping corner on the descent of the Côte de Berre les Alpes and had to swing to the right side of the road to avoid a small car, which appeared to have stopped from its uphill progress in the opposite side of the road. A lead race motorcycle at the front of the group also appeared to swerve and miss the oncoming vehicle.
“Oh my gracious! How did that happen?” exclaimed US announcer and former pro rider Bob Roll on the broadcast by Peacock, a streaming service for NBC Sports that was seen by a US audience. “That could have been an absolute nightmare.”
His broadcast partner and another former WorldTour rider Christian Vande Velde noted that the riders were already taking risks on the road to catch the peloton and an added risk of a stray vehicle, on what was supposed to be a closed course, should not have been part of the equation.
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