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‘Some nutter’ burns Tour leader with flare

ANNONAY, France — Tour de France racers are used to dodging flags, people and the odd stray dog along the race route.

But flares?

Overall leader Bradley Wiggins wasn’t so lucky during Friday’s 12th stage from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay in the Ardeche region. The Briton was burnt on the arm by a spectator carrying a flare and running alongside the peloton as it raced over the Col du Granier, one of the two category-1 climbs during the stage.

“I got hit in the arm with a flare, it burnt my arm a bit,” Wiggins said after the race. “It was some nutter running up the hill and it shows you freak things like that can happen in the Tour. I’m fine though.”

Tour riders are very exposed as they race mere inches away from thousands of spectators massed along the Tour’s route. Years ago, cycling legend Eddy Merckx was punched by a fan of a rival racer.

When spectators get out of line now, such as in Friday’s incident, riders are tempted to take justice into their own hands.

“I’m sure there’s a few guys nursing injuries tonight because there were quite a few bottles being thrown in their direction from the peloton,” Wiggins said.