A Spectator’s Sign Felled Dozens of Tour de France Racers

Otto I. Eovaldi

The French authorities explained they were being searching for an unidentified lady who held a banner along the facet of the highway at the Tour de France on Saturday, leading to a collision that despatched dozens of cyclists tumbling to the ground.

Footage from the scene reveals fallen athletes in a heap of tangled legs and spinning wheels immediately after a German rider, Tony Martin, crashed into the signal along the aspect of the road just before falling. That established off a cascade of collisions in the middle of the peloton, a French phrase indicating “ball” or “group” that also refers to a cluster of cyclists in a race.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, the authorities in the French department of Finistère, in Brittany, questioned for witnesses to help them identify the girl who held the banner, which explained: “ALLEZ OPI-OMI!” — the French phrase for “go” along with two German conditions of endearment for grandparents. In advance of the crash, she appeared to be facing away from the racers and toward the television cameras.

The incident took place for the duration of the initially of the race’s 21 levels, in the municipality of Saint-Cadou, according to the authorities. The law enforcement reported that the girl, who was sporting eyeglasses and a yellow jacket, still left the scene right before investigators arrived.

Pierre-Yves Thouault, the deputy director of biking with the Amaury Activity Organisation, which runs the Tour de France, explained to Agence France-Presse this earlier weekend that the firm prepared to sue the female. “We are executing this so that the small minority of people who do this really don’t spoil the present for everyone,” he said.

On Monday, the Amaury Sport Organisation verified that it had manufactured a grievance about the female to the French authorities but did not instantly respond to a dilemma about the prospective lawsuit.

The collision was one particular of two big crashes on the first working day of the race, creating accidents that led to the withdrawals of 4 cyclists: Jasha Sütterlin of Germany, Marc Soler of Spain, Cyril Lemoine of France and Ignatas Konovalovas of Lithuania.

It is not unheard of for Tour de France followers to crowd the roadways and inadvertently (or even deliberately) excursion up the rivals, and the increase of spectator selfies around the previous decade has compounded that threat.

But the racers have generally contended with unexpected obstacles.

In 2011, a vehicle belonging to a news crew clipped a group of riders and sent just one of them, Johnny Hoogerland of the Netherlands, barreling into a barbed-wire fence. In 2018, several cyclists rode into a cloud of law enforcement tear fuel that experienced been supposed for protesters, halting the race for about 15 minutes as the riders had been treated with eyedrops.

And in a outstanding sequence of functions in 2016, a swarm of spectators induced a tv bike to halt in the cyclists’ route throughout Phase 12. Amid the confusion, a police motor vehicle crushed the bicycle of a foremost competitor, Chris Froome, who then started functioning towards the end line whilst he waited for a substitution bicycle to catch up with him.

Just after the pileup on Saturday, Martin was capable to remain in the race. His group, Jumbo-Visma, stated on Twitter on Sunday that “all of our riders appear to be ok immediately after the massive and despicable crash.”

On Instagram, Martin thanked his lovers for their aid and additional a concept for “all the people today following to the highway who feel that the #tourdefrance is a circus.”

He then available a concept “to people who feel it is pleasant to exhibit their naked butt, to drunken people today who thrust us sideways on the climbs, to people who assume that it is a fantastic plan to maintain a indicator into the road although the peloton is passing.”

“Please regard the riders and the #tourdefrance!” he wrote. “Use your head or continue to be household!”

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