Police Searching For Spectator Who Caused Tour de France Pileup
French police are looking for the spectator responsible for sending dozens of cyclists into a pileup on the first day of the Tour de France. On June 26, German cyclist Tony Martin initiated the pile up after riding at a high speed into a cardboard sign being held up by an unidentified woman. Martin fell off his bike and a pack of riders behind him crashed as well, creating a massive mess.
Television footage of the race showed the woman in a yellow jacket, leaning into the road, smiling while holding a sign that read “Allez Opi-Omi” (“Come on granddad-granny”, in a mix of French and German). As the cyclists approached her, it was clear she was facing the television camera rather than the oncoming cyclists.
A spokesperson with France’s National Gendarmerie, one of the country’s police forces, spoke to NBC News and expressed that they are still on the search for this woman and called her actions “prudent.”
Investigators are looking through footage and pleading with any witnesses to come forward with information about the incident. Police say the woman left the scene before investigators arrived.
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The Tour de France generally allows thousands of fans to cheer on the riders as they work the grueling race. With Covid-19 restrictions finally eased in France, fans enthusiastically returned to line the roads where the cyclists compete.
Race director Christian Prudhomme told Eurosport in an interview that “the woman’s behavior was unacceptable and intolerable.”
“When we come to the tour route, it is to admire the champions, otherwise we have nothing to do with it,” he said. “You have to be careful and not let yourself be carried away by enthusiasm. And above all, those who deserve television are the runners. The spectators do not come to see each other, they have their mirror for that.”
Tour officials warned fans to respect the safety of the riders. “Don’t risk everything for a photo or to get on television,” officials said in a tweet, adding a video compilation of past accidents caused by spectators.
Martin posted a strongly worded message on Instagram. “To all the people next to the road who think that the #tourdefrance is a circus, to people who risk everything for a selfie with a 50 km/h fast peloton, to people who think it’s nice to show their naked butt, to drunken people who push us sideways on the climbs, to people who think that it is a good idea to hold a sign into the road while the peloton is passing. I want to ask [these] people forcefully: please respect the riders and the #tourdefrance” he said. “Use your head or stay home! We don’t want you here.”
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