The 2016 Tour de France saw an additional obstacle to the 3,529 kilometres when an inflatable arch, sporting the races main sponsor, deflated during the final section of the seventh stage of the iconic event. In its 103rd outing the race saw all 198 rides commence the stage, but it was rider Adam Yates that was hit and thrown from his bike when the arch collapsed. Englishman Yates needed stitches in his chin and sustained a shoulder injury after the arch suddenly collapsed directly on top of him.
With the rest of the pack not far behind, the procedure employed by race organisers saw the arch manually held up over the heads of race staff, the riders dismounted and carried their bikes under their arch, before getting back on their bikes and continuing on the stage. Yates fought from under the arch, recovered to complete the course and was given a revised time, which saw him take second position in the overall race and the white jersey, for the Tour’s fastest young rider.
Importantly, the race rules provide for any external influence and race organisers have the ability to provide revised times. There was also a solution, with the procedure known to riders and officials to deal with an obstruction on track – when the red flag is displayed the riders knew to dismount and the second red flag indicated their remount – so while no one might have anticipated this particular blockage, contingency planning by organisers proved them prepared to deal with the unexpected.