The first three stages of the 2023 Vuelta a Espana cycling race have already been a bit of disaster.
The first stage, a team time trial, saw riders struggle to stay upright through torrential rainfall and dark streets that had nowhere near enough lighting.
Stage two had to be altered due to similar weather, and the third saw stage winner and race leader Remco Evenepoel crash after crossing the finish line due to poor race organization and a lack of awareness.
— Eurosport (@eurosport) August 28, 2023
But none of that compares to what nearly happened during Monday’s third stage of the final grand tour of 2023.
Con este mecanismo pretendían sabotear la etapa de ayer de #LaVuelta23
👉🏻Dos bidones con 400 litros de líquido que pretendían arrojar en la calzada al paso del pelotón
— Policía Nacional (@policia) August 29, 2023
Spanish police arrested four men who allegedly attempted to dump 400 gallons of olive oil onto the race route, which likely would’ve caused a large crash and numerous injuries.
“With this mechanism they intended to sabotage yesterday’s stage of #LaVuelta23,” a tweet from Spanish authorities read. “Two drums with 400 liters of liquid that they intended to throw on the road as the peloton passed. Four people arrested red-handed in #Lleida.”
The attached video showed multiple oil drums and lines which presumably were to be used to dump the oil from a bridge above the race route.
The suspects were allegedly members of a pro-Catalan independence group.
It’s not the first time cycling has dealt with protestors.
The 2022 Tour de France was brought to a halt by climate protestors who blocked the road. Race organizers then paused the stage so that police could remove the protestors.
With still 2.5 weeks left, who knows what else we could see. But one thing is certain, this has been one of the wildest starts to a race that we’ve ever seen.