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SAINT-DIÉ-DES-VOSGES, France (VN) — Dozens of riders crossed the finish line bloodied and battered after stage 5 of the Tour de France Femmes on Wednesday.
A crash in the peloton with 44km to appeared to take down nearly three dozen riders.
Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar Team) were both caught in the pileup, with Kopecky putting in a huge dig to return to the bunch. Norsgaard was wincing in pain when medical staff touched her neck and left shoulder and was ultimately taken away by ambulance.
Reports also indicate that Chantal van den Broek-Blaak suffered an injury to her right arm.
According to riders, the 175km stage from Bar-Le-Duc to Saint-Dié-Des-Voges rolled along in relative calm until the moment of the crash.
“Just the end was hectic,” Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) told VeloNews. “That’s long stages. People lose their concentration and then touch wheels and half the bunch goes down.”
Although the exact cause of the crash was not determined, the going theory was that two riders touched wheels and lost control. The rest of the peloton, which was moving at more than than 44 km/hr when the crash happened according to the @letourdata account on Twitter, then piled up in succession.
Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) got caught up in the jumble of riders and rolled across the finish line with a sizeable lump and abrasion on her right knee. She also broke a shoe in the fall and finished the race in one white shoe and one blue shoe.
“I came down quite early in the crash and landed in the grass, which was better than most people who piled on top of each other in the middle of the road,” she said.
Magdeleine Vallieres Mill (EF Education-Tibco-SVB) arrived at the scene later than Brown and couldn’t see a way around it.
“There was no place to go. I didn’t really have a choice,” she said.
The French-Canadian rider said that one, maybe two, riders fell on top of her and somehow her foot got caught between the spokes of someone’s wheel. She was so stuck that a mechanic had to remove the wheel in order to get her foot out. Her ankle, while sore, “will be OK tomorrow,” she said.
Vallieres Mill said she was able to rejoin the group once aboard a new bike.
“I was lucky I was able to get back, I think a lot of girls couldn’t,” she said. “I’m happy no one else is hurt. That’s the bad part about cycling, it’s part of it.”