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Woman arrested as French police investigate Tour de France crash

Live television images showed the woman holding a sign, standing on the side of the road in the path of the peloton.

The Tour de France has been marred by several crashes this year.
The Tour de France has been marred by several crashes this year.
Image: PA

A WOMAN HAS been arrested on suspicion of being the spectator who allegedly caused a mass crash of riders on the opening day of the Tour de France.

“The woman has been formally identified and she was taken into custody a few minutes ago,” the source told AFP.

The state prosecutor for the city of Brest in Brittany, Camille Miansoni, said “a suspect is in custody”.

On Saturday, a woman brandishing a cardboard sign on the roadside between Brest and Landerneau caused German rider Tony Martin to fall, who in turn brought down dozens of riders behind him.

The crash held up the race for five minutes while bikes and bodies were untangled.

French police had issued an appeal for witnesses on Saturday.

The woman held up a sign with ‘Granny and Grandad’ written in German and looked up the road towards the race’s motorbike cameras, crucially, with her back to the speeding peloton.

German rider Tony Martin brushed into her, lost his balance and fell, causing a sickening wave of falls that swept through most of the peloton, leaving them in a tangled mess of bikes and bodies.

“The major issue on the Tour is road security,” lieutenant-colonel Joel Scherer of the French Gendarmerie told AFP on Sunday.

DSM’s German rider Jasha Sutterlin was the only cyclist who had to pull out at once, his Tour de France dream ruined on day one.

Eight other riders needed treatment from the official doctor and a host of others were treated for grazes, bruises and cuts caused by the pile-up. 

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There will also be a civil action running in tandem with the criminal investigation as Tour de France organisation Amaury Sport Organisation have said they will sue the suspect.  

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

“We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone,” he said.

The police said on Saturday that they intend to charge the spectator with “unintentional short-term injury through a manifestly deliberate breach of a duty of safety or care”, lieutenant-colonel Scherer said.

“We can confirm that no member of the public was injured and we have liaised with the race organisers on this.”

Additional reporting from © AFP 2021

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