With 50km left of the longest stage of the race, an incident on a straight bit of road between Bar-le-Luc to Saint-die-des-Vosges quickly escalated into an enormous crash which saw half the field off their bikes.
With dozens involved, it took several minutes for riders to untangle themselves from each other’s bikes.
Many riders had bumps and bruises, with SD Worx’ Chantal van den Broek-Blaak having to have her right arm bandaged by medical staff in the team car while riding and former Italian national champion Marta Bastianelli battling through tears to continue.
However, the massive pileup spelled the end of Movistar’s Emma Norsgaard’s race after she was forced to pull out with the injuries she sustained.
Former Briitish racing cyclist Dani Christmas said these things can happen on long stretches of road.
“If you’re too relaxed, if riders aren’t concentrating, then crashes can happen. The speed in the bunch must have been so high for so many riders to have been impacted.”
And at the end of the 175.6km stage, the longest in the modern history of women’s World Tour racing, Lorena Wiebes of Team DSM finished first.
The Dutch rider, also winner of the shortest stage of the Tour de France Femmes on Sunday, showed why she’s the best sprinter around, while world champion Elisa Balsamo came second and Marianne Vos third.
However, Vos’ four bonus seconds saw her extend her lead in the general classification to 20 seconds.