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'Fearful' Tour de France spectator who caused crash released from custody but facing charges

A spectator holding a sign sparked a massive crash on stage 1 of the Tour de France
A spectator holding a sign sparked a massive crash on stage 1 of the Tour de France (Image credit: NBC Sports/ASO Broadcast)

The sign-holding spectator who caused the mass crash on the opening day of the Tour de France has been released from custody and charged by French police, who described her as "ashamed" and "frightened". 

The authorities want to protect the culprit's identity but did reveal she is a 31-year-old woman who lives near Landerneau, where the opening stage finished. 

Having been arrested on Wednesday, following the incident on Saturday, she was released on Friday morning, according to AFP. having spent an extra night in custody than expected.

She is charged with two offences, the first being 'endangering others through a manifestly deliberate violation of a duty of prudence or safety' and, as a consequence, 'involuntarily causing injuries that lead to an inability to work for up to three months'.

The case will be judged in court in Brest in October and could lead to a fine of up to 1,500 Euros.

The woman could, however, face further action if any individuals or groups launch their own lawsuits. The race organisers have already withdrawn their threats to sue but Movistar's Marc Soler, who broke both arms and left the race, is considering it

Despite numerous injured riders, Jasha Sutterlin was the only other to abandon the Tour as a result of the crash, which occurred when the spectator held a sign - bearing a message for her grandparents - into the middle of the road and into the path of Tony Martin.

On Thursday evening, while the woman was still behind bars, the local prosecutor held a press conference in which it was revealed how she'd responded. 

As well as feeling "ashamed" and "fearful", it was said she was "distressed by the repercussions in the media," according to France Bleu. 

She acknowledged her "stupidity" but said she needed to "digest the event" before presenting herself to the police. She was also reportedly described as "psychologically fragile" and as "taking the episode very badly".