La Vuelta crashes and accidents

Over the long history of the La Vuelta, there have been many altering crashes and accidents. With the 2023 La Vuelta nearly upon us, we look back at some of the most horrific incidents from recent years.

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Photo by IconSport

What are the most notorious La Vuelta crashes in recent history?

Here is our list of the most impactful in terms of riders involved and notorious La Vuelta crashes from recent years:

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1. Nairo Quintana, 2014

The 2014 La Vuelta pre-race favourite to win it all Nairo Quintana was prevented from doing so by a nasty crash during stages 10 and 11 that saw him forced to withdraw. The Colombian was leading the general classification come stage 10 and looked in a great position to wear the red jersey in Madrid. However, during a steep downhill 36 km from the finish line of stage 10 Quintana hit the roadside barriers and went over his handlebars to suffer some major injuries.

Quintana continued and despite the lost time he finished the stage and started stage 11 on the following day. However, on the run up to the final of stage 11 Quintana fell again and broke his collarbone, which ended his presence at that year’s La Vuelta.

2. Kris Boeckmans, 2015

The 2015 La Vuelta accident during stage 8 will remain in the memory of many as one of the most horrific ones in the history of the race.

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Efe/ABACAPRESS.COM// Jose Manuel Vidal
By Icon Sport

It resulted in 5 riders abandoning the race due to their injuries. Among them was one of the main favourites for the overall win Tejay van Garderen, the 3rd in the general classification at that point Irishman Dan Martin and the actual stage winner Jasper Styuven who unbelievably crossed the line riding with a broken wrist.

However, the big casualty of this La Vuelta crash was the Belgian rider Kris Boeckmans. He was flown to the hospital straight away and his injuries were so bad that he had to be put under induced coma due to what was described as a “severe facial trauma”.

A Lotto-Soudal statement said Boeckmans “has a concussion, three broken ribs and had a bleeding in his lung. The doctors will now keep him in an induced coma for a few days.”

Eventually, 6 months later Boeckmans was back on the bike but the injuries were so serious that they ended his professional career soon after.

3. Julian Alaphilippe, 2022

During last year’s La Vuelta, a major accident occurred shortly before the finish line of stage 9 that saw one of the main riders of Team Quickstep Julian Alaphilippe, who was also the reigning road World Champion,  having to abandon the race.

Alaphilippe was riding towards the front of the peloton when he slipped on a bend and crashed his shoulder into the curb. He never got up and had to be lifted on a stretcher before being rushed into the hospital. His shoulder was so badly damaged that later that year Alaphilippe missed the defence of his Road World title as he was still recovering.

4. Alejandro Valverde, 2021

A scary La Vuelta crash occurred in 2021 during stage 7 when the ex-La Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde flew over a safety barrier on the side of the road and into a ravine. Luckily his fall stopped only a few feet down the steep ravine so he escaped major trauma. Here is how it all happened.

5. Odd Christian Eiking, 2021

The last of our top 5 La Vuelta accidents is probably the most dramatic one in terms of overall impact. During the 2021 La Vuelta the Dane Odd Christian Eiking was wearing the red jersey with only a few days of racing left and he looked on the verge of the biggest success of his career.

Then, while descending on a wet tarmac in stage 17 Eiking and one other rider (Aleksandr Vlasov) crashed hard and by the end of the day Eiking had lost the red jersey to the eventual winner Primoz Roglic.

Eiking suffered broken ribs, and bruised elbow and needed several surgeries after the race finished. He has never been even close to a major win since this incident and many believe that Eiking is still struggling with the psychological trauma from that particular La Vuelta crash.

So, here we have it. Some of the most impactful and scary La Vuelta crashes and accidents. It is inevitable that during this year’s La Vuelta, we will witness more crashes but we hope nobody will get seriously hurt.

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About the author


Iskra had a promising, at least she believed so, tennis and volleyball careers as a junior but a series of injuries ended her hopes to become a professional athlete very early.

Instead, she focused all her energy on her other passion, writing. For over a decade, Iskra had been a freelance sports writer. Football, basketball and tennis are the main fields of her expertise.