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Welcome to Gran Fondo USA >> Top Ten Worst Moments in Pro Cycling in 2017

Top Ten Worst Moments in Pro Cycling

There have been some amazing highs and lows this past year. Here's our top ten list of the lowest points in Pro Cycling from 2017.


10. Contador causes a Sh*tstorm on Stage 12 of the Vuelta

Dramatic scenes on stage 12 of the Vuelta a Espana Alberto Contador attacked on the final climb of Puerto del Torcal, distancing his rivals including Chris Froome.

Spanish fans went wild as the drama unfolded. Spanish police struggled to contain the fans whose response to Contador's attack was unpresidented. In dramatic and unseen footage, it looks as if a cycling fan dives in front of a moto cam motorbike. But it transpiries he was pushed out of the way by a policeman, fearing for his safety or stopping him running next to Contador. The man is hauled to his feet, as the long arm of law bears down on him.

Froome panics, crashes a second time and overcooks a bend as he struggles to get back into contention on the final descent. 

Meanwhile a crazed fan, for no apparent reason (just yet), attacks Maxim Belkov from Katusha, sending him flying off his bike over barriers and into spectators.

Police struggle to contain the lunatic. Meanwhile, Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) soloed to his second stage victory at this year's Vuelta. Mikel Nieve and Wout Poels from Team Sky buried themselves to help Chris Froome limit his losses.

Belkov later said “Through the Vuelta organisers I have received more details from the Guardia Civil about the incident that occurred yesterday on the Puerto del Torcal when a fan pushed me into the ditch. Apparently the man suffers from a mental disability. For me this is more than enough reason not to undertake any further action against him. I am healthy and not injured, but it could have ended worse. Cycling is a very accessible sport. We need to keep it this way. I just hope that this incident will open the eyes of many fans. Please never touch the riders in the race, don’t run alongside us and make sure to always properly supervise anyone under your care.”


9. Bad Crash at Paris Roubaix

After 100km of racing on the 2nd sector of the day, Sector 28, Viesly to Quievy, 1.8 km, 3 riders had a 47s lead, Wallays, Martinez and Delage. The Peloton came into this sector at full gas, chasing the break.  All the favorites had come to the front, causing severe panic in the Peloton. It was only a matter of time before this happened.

Luckily no one was seriously hurt. Greg Van Avermaet was seen with an allen key doing up his stem after he crashed too. It looks as if the cobbles were shaking his bike to pieces - quite literally. He was seriously in a panic when he went down, but was up and running quickly, but had lost over a minute to the peloton containing all the favorites. When van Avermaet went down, Tom Boonen put the hammer down hopefully trying to leave one of his main rivals behind.  

It took van Avermaet a huge fight to get back into the peloton after the Arenberg Trench which didn't see it's usual carnage, mainly due to the good weather.

Greg Van Avermaet went on to win his first Momument, testment to his sheer detemination and strength to get to the front of the peloton after suffering a mechanical and Boonen ripping the race apart.


8. Dumoulin's "Nature Break" at the Giro d'Italia

Tom Dumoulin's overall lead was drastically reduced in the race's Queen stage after the Dutchman stopped to answer the call of nature at the foot of the last of three major climbs. Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali of the Bahrain-Merida team won the 16th leg, which crossed the Mortirolo and Stelvio passes.

Just before the unprecedented ascent to the Umbrail pass in Switzerland, Dumoulin stopped at the side of the road, stripped off his pink jersey and hopped down into a ditch to take care of business. By the time Dumoulin got back on his bike, the Team Sunweb rider had already dropped far behind his rivals.

"I just had some problems," Dumoulin said. "I started to feel it in the downhill of the Stelvio and I had to stop. Back on the bike I decided to fight and draw conclusions after the finish. I'm still in the maglia rosa (leader's pink jersey) but I'm above all very disappointed."

Becoming the first Italian rider to win a stage in this year's race, Nibali edged Mikel Landa of Team Sky in a two-man sprint, with 2014 champion Nairo Quintana crossing third, 12 seconds behind. Dumoulin finished more than two minutes back but maintained a 31 second lead over Quintana, while Nibali moved up from fourth to third overall, 1:12 behind.

Dumoulin entered the stage 2:41 ahead of Quintana. He took the lead by dominating an individual time trial in Stage 10 and then won Stage 14, which finished with a serious climb to Oropa. While Dumoulin ordered his team to slow down and wait when Quintana fell in the previous stage, Nibali and Quintana didn't wait for him this time.

"I don't know. It's difficult to say," Dumoulin said when asked if his rivals should have waited. "It was a racing situation and we were going full gas."

Dumoulin incredibly fought back and won his first Grand Tour at the final time trial for a nail-biting finish. He will be back in 2018 to defend his 2017 Giro d'Italia title.


7. Cavendish out of Tour and Peter Sagan disqualified after horror crash

Mark Cavendish was withdrawn from the Tour de France after he suffered a fractured shoulder blade in a horrendous crash 200 metres from the finish line on stage four of the 2017 Tour de France. 

Cavendish’s sporting director at Dimension Data, Roger Hammond, described the move that led to Sagan’s expulsion as “a flick of the elbow which was completely outrageous”. He added: “No one comes out of it well. This is a sad, sad day for the sport, Sagan is a hero and an idol of mine but a precedent has to be set.”

Sagan’s Bora-Hansgrohe team announced they had officially protested about the Slovak’s expulsion. The German team said Sagan “rejected the claim to have caused, or in any way intended to cause, the crash of Mark Cavendish”. Sagan appeared to have accepted his fate.

“I can accept the decision but for sure I do not agree with them, because I think I have done nothing wrong,” Sagan said in a statement delivered outside the team hotel.  
“It is very bad that Mark fell down, it is important he can recover well, I am sorry for that,” he added. “As you saw it was a crazy sprint, it was not the first one like that or the last one. I wish that Mark recovers well.”

Later on Sagan was cleared of causing the crash. At CAS proceedings, including video footage that was not available at the time when the race jury had disqualified Peter Sagan, the parties agreed that the crash was an unfortunate and unintentional race incident and that the UCI Commissaires made their decision based on their best judgment in the circumstances. On this basis, the parties agreed not to continue with the legal proceedings and to focus on the positive steps that can be taken in the future instead which now includes a video jury at the end of every stage.


6. Chris Froome fails drugs test after the Vuelta a Espana

Froome returned an abnormal result for salbutamol use during the 2017 Vuelta. More controversy for Team Sky surrounding the use of TUE's and Asthma medication
Four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome has been required by cycling’s governing body the UCI to provide information after he returned an abnormal doping test at the Vuelta

Froome’s Team Sky said in a statement that Froome has been informed by the UCI that a urine test on Sept. 7 revealed a concentration of salbutamol of 2,000 nanograms, twice the threshold of 1,000 nanograms. Sky said that the Kenyan-born rider had to take an increased dosage of salbutamol after he ”experienced acute asthma symptoms” during the final week of the race.

After successfully defending his Tour de France title in July, Froome went on to win Vuelta for the first time. Froome said: ”The UCI is absolutely right to examine test results and, together with the team, I will provide whatever information it requires.”

If the Briton is unable to offer a sufficient explanation for the abnormal finding or challenge the result itself he will forfeit his Vuelta title under the rules of cycling’s world governing body, the UCI.

However, Team Sky and Froome take a risky strategy to try and prove that under conditions of dehydration and other factors that his body did not expel the Sabutamol. This strategy if it fails, could see Froome receive an even longer ban. Diego Ulissi got a 9 month suspension for that same failed drugs test, this case could drag on for many months and could cost Froome and Team Sky millions of dollars in lost winnings and potential earnings.


5. Support Car Wipes Out U23 Rider in Bergen

Joni Kanerva, who was racing in the U23 World Championship Road Race in Bergen, Norway, fell badly when a support car ran into him. The collision occurred near the center of Bergen. Kanerva was between the service cars following the peloton.

What happened next was very unfortunate. The lead car stopped quickly to help another cyclist with a tire change.  The car stopped so fast that the car behind made a quick manouver to avoid a collison, and went into the path of Kanerva. Kanerva flew sideways from the force of the collision into barriers and crashed to the ground. The Finn was rushed to hospital. Kjell Carlsröm, team leader of the Finnish cycling team interviewed by the Norwegian broadcaster NRK, says that Kanerva is stable. "The cervical clavicle and the ribs are broken. It was not nice to see your cyclist lying in that way in the country. I was scared, Calrström told the NRK."

However, Kanerva's full list of his injuiries was worse. He fractured his C1 vertebrae, collarbone, four ribs and also sustained serious spleen injuries. He also had part of his ear ripped, as he hit the barriers and a without doubt suffered concussion and severe Trauma. He has faced a long road to recovery physically and more importantly mentally as he comes to terms with the Trauma of his crash. Due to the huge response on social media, the UCI quickly moved to respond to the situation.

A communiqué issued by the UCI identified the team car that swerved to avoid a collision with the car that had stopped, was that of the Argentian team.And a maxium penalty of 2,000 Swiss Francs was imposed on the team for causing the crash, handed down under new rules introduced last year, that came in response to several high profile crashes involving race vehicles and riders.


4. Motorbike wipes out Team Sky's GC ambitions at the Giro d'Italia

Geraint Thomas dislocateed his shoulder as team mates including Mikel Landa and Orica-Scott's Adam Yates hit the deck. GC ambitions for Thomas, Landa and Yates were effectively over. Wilco Kelderman abandons. It was huge drama on stage 9 at the Giro d'Italia, on the lower slopes of the fiercesome final climb of BlockHaus.

As the peloton increased the pace, riders bunched up wanting to stay near the front. A police motorbike rider, who had pulled to the side of the road, clipped Team Sun Web's Wolco Kelderman who then set off a chain reaction of riders going down, mainly from Team Sky and Adam Yates.

Scene's after the crash showed the carnage as Landa scremed at the doctors to help Thomas who lied motionless, unable to move with a dislocated shoulder. Team Sky's doctor had to pop Thomas's arm back in the socket. Thomas who was absolutely furious, managed to collect himself and continue on. Both Thomas and Landa clearly showing signs of the crash, with ripped jerseys, numbers hanging off and blood pooring from their forearms and elbows.

Yates was down but didn't seem to be hurt. Team Sky's De Rosa dropped back to pace Thomas and Landa back up, but by the finish line Thomas was over 5 minutes behind on GC. Orica-Scott's Adam Yates was over 4 minutes in arrears.

Thomas clearly voiced his shock and frustration by the crash. Geraint Thomas (Sky) said "It's ridiculous. That shouldn't happen. We were all racing to the bottom of the climb, and next thing I know someone hits a moto and we go down. My shoulder popped out as well. I felt good but then I crashed and that was it – race over."

The serious crash which ultimately saw Thomas lose over 2 minutes to his GC rivals after getting back on and continuing the fight for pink. The next day he put in an awesome ITT and took time back. 

Thomas sensibly abandoned the Giro, after not recovering, but went on to ride the Tour de France and won the opening time trial in Dusseldorf.

VIDEO: Motorbike Crash on the lower slopes of BlockHaus


3. Richie Porte abandons Tour de France after horrendous crash

Richie Porte crashed out of the Tour de France with Fractured Clavicle and Pelvis. Richie Porte suffered a devastating crash on stage 9 of the Tour de France which forced the Australian out of the race

Porte went down on the descent of the hors categorie Mont du Chat when he slipped off the road into grass and crashed into the side of the mountain at a high speed.

After receiving immediate attention on the side of the road, Porte was taken to hospital for observation where he underwent X-rays.

BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa explained the nature of Porte’s injuries “Richie Porte was transferred to the Centre Hopitalier Metropole Savoie in Chambery where he was evaluated by Dr. Zerr. He underwent X-rays to determine the extent of his injuries. His condition was stable from the beginning, he was responsive and he remembered everything that happened before and after the crash,” Dr. Testa explained.

“X-rays confirmed a non-displaced right clavicle fracture and a non-displaced right acetabulum fracture. Richie also suffered extensive superficial abrasions involving the right side of his body. At this stage, the injuries will not require surgery. The plan is to re-evaluate Richie tomorrow morning and confirm that he is stable enough to be transferred home.”

Dr. Testa confirmed that Porte will require a minimum of four weeks off the bike, “Normally, a fractured clavicle and pelvis would require four to six weeks’ recovery, providing there are no complications. If everything goes to plan, Richie could be back on the bike at the beginning of August and slowly build his fitness up from there. Based on Richie’s recovery, we will re-evaluate his program for the rest of the season in consultation with BMC Racing Team management.”

VIDEO: Richie Porte Crashes Into Dan Martin


2. Valverde crashes out of the Tour de France

Two fractures for Valverde after TDF crash, Movistar rider to underwent surgery in Germany after breaking left kneecap and at alus bone fracture.

The 2017 Tour de France barely lasted seven kilometers for Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) as he suffered a serious crash during the race's opening TT in Düsseldorf, which forced him to abandon. 

Transferred by ambulance to the University Hospital in Düsseldorf, examinations confirmed two fractures to his left leg: one in his kneecap and another one in the talus bone. Valverde also suffered a deep wound to his tibia, without any muscle tissue affected by that cut.

The doctors taking care of Valverde's condition have decided to operate him on his kneecap straight away.

Valverde is due to return to racing in 2018 


1. Cycling mourned the death of Italian superstar Michele Scarponi

Former Giro d'Italia winner and Team Astana rider killed instantly in collision with a van on a crossroads near his home in Filottrano, Italy. Only days after finishing fourth overall in the Tour of the Alps where he won a stage, team Astana have officially announced the tragic death of the 37-year-old rider who was due to lead the team into the Giro d'Italia. 

One of the best stage racers in the world, Scarponi’s greatest victory came in 2011 when he won the Giro d’Italia overall having won many stages in previous years. He finished fourth in the Giro d’Italia on three other occassions, with victories in Tirreno-Adriatico in 2009 and the Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino in 2011.

Team Astana issued this statement "This is a tragedy too big to be written. Our athlete Michele Scarponi died this morning while he was training on his bike close to his home in Filottrano. Michele has been hitted by a van on a crossroad. Born in September 25th 1979, he left a wife and two kids. Michele ended 4th in the Tour of Alps yesterday afternoon in Trento. Then he went home in Filottrano (Ancona) by car with his masseur and was home in the evening to his family. This morning Michele went out on his bike for an early morning training and there the tragedy happened. "We left a great champion and a special guy, always smiling in every situation, he was a real mile stone and a landmark for everyone in the Astana Pro Team. The Astana Pro Team clings to the Michele family in this incredibly painful moment of sorrow and mourning. A huge loss to professional cycling and the cycling community. Another great talent's life brought short by the inadequate protection of cyclists on public roads."

Thousands of people came out to honour the champion who was buried in his cycling kit

Valverde dedicated his Liege-Bastogne-Liege win to Michele Scarponi and donated his prize money to the Scarponi family. The Inaugural Gran Fondo Scarponi set to take place in his home town of Filottrano, Italy, one year after his tragic death.


VIDEO: Ciao Scarpa - Best Of Michele Scarponi