Tour de France: Police search for spectator who caused big crash after holding out sign

Police are searching for a spectator who caused a large pile-up during the opening stage of this year’s Tour de France and then is believed to have left the scene.

The woman held up a cardboard sign at the roadside as a group of cyclists approached on Saturday.

She appeared to look straight at the television motorbike cameras with her back turned on the pack of riders.

German rider Tony Martin then rode into the sign, which said “Allez Opi-Omi” (Come on granddad-granny, in a mix of French and German), and he was sent tumbling.

This led to a domino effect, with a number of other riders also hitting the ground, around 47km (29 miles) from the end of the Brest-Landerneau stage.

The narrow road was almost entirely blocked by stricken riders and broken bikes.

⚠ We will never say it enough, and the message is pretty clear: Respect the riders and their safety.

⚠ On ne le dira jamais assez, mais le message est clair: respectez les coureurs et leur sécurité.#TDF2021

A statement from local police said a judicial investigation is under way into the incident and the force was asking for information from members of the public.

Officers said the woman was wearing glasses, a yellow jacket, a red and white jumper, and blue jeans.

Another German rider, Jasha Sutterlin, was the only cyclist who had to abandon the race but several people were hurt, including spectators.

A senior race official reportedly said organisers will be taking legal action against the woman.

“We are suing this woman who behaved so badly,” Tour deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault told the AFP news agency.

“We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this don’t spoil the show for everyone.”

Tour organisers have warned fans to “respect the safety of the riders” and “don’t risk everything for a photo or to get on television”.

A tweet said: “We’re glad to have the public on the side of the road on the #TDF2021.

“But for the Tour to be a success, respect the safety of the riders! Don’t risk everything for a photo or to get on television!”

There was also a second crash about 7.5km (4.6 miles) from the finish which brought down several riders, including British cyclist Chris Froome.

Froome then got back on his bike after being seen by a race doctor and was able to cross the line. The stage was won by Julian Alaphilippe of France.

Froome was able to take part in Sunday’s second stage.

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