Authorities arrest spectator involved in Tour de France cyclist crash
The woman who was seen holding a sign that caused Saturday’s massive pileup of cyclists in the Tour de France has reportedly been arrested following a days-long search by police.
Reuters reported Wednesday, citing France’s BFM television news channel, that the unidentified woman had been taken into custody in Brittany, where the tour held its first four stages this week.
German television network RTL reported that the fine for the spectator would likely reach 1,500 euros, or about $1,780, but could increase if Germany’s Jasha Sutterlin, who was forced to withdraw from the race as a result of the collision, decides to file his own complaint.
The crash occurred Saturday with approximately 29 miles left to go until the finish line in the tour’s first stage.
Video from the incident showed a woman smiling while stepping out from the sidelines and holding a long sign reading “Allez Opi-Omi,” or “Come on granddad-granny,” in a mix of French and German.
German cyclist Tony Martin rode straight into the sign, causing him to fall to the ground and start a massive pileup of dozens of riders.
Local news outlets had reported that the spectator quickly fled the area following the incident.
France’s National Gendarmerie police force announced that same day that it would be opening an investigation into the injuries that resulted from the crash, which it said was caused by a “manifestly deliberate violation of an obligation of safety or prudence.”
A series of other crashes that have occurred within the first few days of the tour, which is set to last through July 18, prompted riders to stage a protest during Tuesday’s segment of the race to demand officials implement stronger safety measures.
Riders temporarily stopped their bikes at the one-kilometer mark into the fourth stage of the race, sitting in silence for one minute before continuing on at a slow pace for the next 10 kilometers.
The riders union Cyclistes Professionnels Associés released a statement on Tuesday demanding that talks be held with the International Cycling Union and event organizers on how to improve the safety for cyclists, explaining that changes are “more necessary than ever.”