A scattering of thumbtacks on the road slowed down some of the riders on Sunday at the Tour de France, with up to 20 thought to have punctured.
The victory on stage two went to Cofidis’s Victor Lafay, who broke a 15-year dry spell for his team at the race, while punctures ruled others out of the finale.
It is understood that tacks were scattered in the road with around 40km remaining, as the peloton approached the Jaizkibel climb.
One of the riders affected was Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), who told TV cameras afterwards that he could feel his cornering was off in the finale. The Brit managed to continue to the finish line in San Sebastián, where he finished fourth.
Jayco AlUla performance director Matt White explained that his rider Luke Durbridge was among those who suffered punctures and was forced to change his wheel.
“Clearly someone has sprayed some tacks on the road in one of the towns,” White told Cyclingnews after the stage. “We would have seen 15 to 20 guys puncture. Some immediately, and some rode through with a slow leak.”
Durbridge was the only rider at Jayco-AlUla that fell victim to the tacks. Cycling Weekly understands a vehicle belonging to another team was also affected.
“It’s a shame,” White continued. “We’re lucky that Simon [Yates] didn’t puncture, but a lot of guys punctured at a pretty important time in the race.”
Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider Lilian Calmejane counted five tacks in his front tyre after the race. “I don’t think I was the only victim of a puncture in the end,” he wrote on Twitter. “Know that we can fall and get really hurt with this stupidity, you morons.”
Merci pour ce genre de connerie humaine … je pense ne pas avoir été le seul victime de crevaison dans le final … sachez qu’on peut tomber et se faire très mal avec vos conneries bande d’abrutis … 🤬 pic.twitter.com/IoTMolFKgOJuly 2, 2023
It is unknown at this stage how the tacks ended up on the course at the Tour.
Cycling Weekly approached ASO for comment, but was told by the race organiser that they were unaware of the issue.
At the 2012 edition of the race, tacks brought the peloton to a near standstill in the Pyrenees, with around 30 riders, including race leader Bradley Wiggins, suffering punctures. “It was obviously done on purpose,” the then race director Jean-François Pescheux said at the time. “We have the tacks but we don’t know who spread them.”
Last year, a fan at the roadside found a handful of carpet tacks at the summit of the Col d’Aubisque – also in the Pyrenees – the day before the race was due to pass through.