On Saturday, Romain Marandet, a French mountain biker, launched more than 25 feet over the lead group of racers as they labored up a steep climb during the 20th stage of the Tour de France.
Marandet and a team of accomplices planned the stunt for more than six months — building an optimal jump and testing the gap over the road time and time again — but were almost foiled by heavy rains on Friday night. Luckily, the weather cleared as morning broke, allowing Marandet to become the first rider to successfully land a gap jump over a peloton of racers (including this year’s winner of the yellow jersey, Team Sky’s Chris Froome). The Frenchman defied gravity on a heavy-duty freeride bike sporting nine inches of front and rear suspension, three-inch tires and hydraulic disc brakes.
The feat — although impressive — is both dangerous and illegal. Ten years prior, in 2003, Canadian freerider Dave Watson attempted to jump the peloton as it neared the summit of the famed Col du Galibier. “I wanted to jump Lance Armstrong — I thought that would be sweet,” Watson told BikeRumor.com, “but he was a ways back and the helicopters were flying really low to the ground.” An hour after the lead pack of riders passed, Watson rolled off the cliff, gapping 30 feet over the group of racers passing below him. Although he successfully cleared the cyclists, team cars, press motorcycles, spectators and asphalt roadway, Watson was unable to land cleanly, flying over his handlebars and tumbling down the steep hillside.
We stand impressed. See the longer version of Marandet’s jump from multiple angles here.