The search for the sign-holding spectator that triggered a mass crash during the opening stage of the Tour de France continues, with police turning to social media in their attempts to locate the woman.
The Gendarmerie du Finistère have put out a call for witnesses in a Facebook post, in which they said that a judicial investigation had been opened.
“The viewer causing this accident left the scene before the investigators arrived,” said the Gendarmerie du Finistere post, which then went on to describe the spectator and called for anyone who could assist to contact them.
The crash during stage 1 from Brest to Landerneau came as the peloton was in pursuit of breakaway rider Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) with about 45 kilometres remaining in the 198 kilometre stage. Jumbo-Visma was at the front of the bunch with Tony Martin second wheel on the right-hand side of the road while a spectator holding a sign with 'Allez Opi-Omi' (a German term of endearment for grandparents) written on it had their back to the peloton with the sign sticking out onto the road at handlebar height. With nowhere else to go Martin, teammate of one of the race favourites Primož Roglič, hit the sign and the impact of that rippled throughout the peloton as a swathe of riders came down.
Many received medical attention roadside while Jasha Sütterlin (Team DSM) was taken to hospital in Landerneau with an injured hand. While he was cleared of any fractures, his race was over as he walked away with a severe contusion to his right wrist, which he couldn't move properly, and stitches on his wrist and elbow. Eight other riders were recorded as having received treatment from the race doctor after the incident, with more injured but not officially recorded in the medical bulletin.
The race organisers said after the incident that they planned to sue the spectator. "We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this don't spoil the show for everyone," race deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP. There could also be other consequences.
An involuntary injury charge, with injuries not leading to more than three months of inability due to injury – that should be the case of the riders involved in the crash – caused by a lack of safe behaviour or prudence, puts the spectator at risk of a fine of 1500 Euro, according to L’Equipe. However the French newspaper added that the sanctions could be stronger if the German rider Sütterlin were to file a complaint by name.
“In this case, according to article 222-20 of the Penal Code, the spectator would risk a maximum penalty of one year of imprisonment as well as a fine of 15,000 euros,” reported L’Equipe.
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