Police Search for Spectator Who Caused Tour de France Crash

French police announced that they had launched an investigation to trace a spectator facing up to a year in prison after causing a multi-rider pile-up during the first stage of the Tour de France on Saturday, where 21 riders were injured.

British cyclist Chris Froome, who injured his left side and chest, described the incident as one of the worst-ever crashes in Tour de France history.

“In a split-second there were 50 or 60 of us all on the ground. I guess that’s bike racing,” Froome said, speaking from a hospital bed on Saturday evening. “I’m hoping I can still start tomorrow but at the moment I can’t put any pressure on my left leg and it’s not looking great.”

Brittany authorities launched a criminal inquiry after the unidentified female caused the accident during the 108th Tour de France’s first stage in the Finistère region of Brittany.

The spectator reportedly leaned into the speeding peloton’s path, smiling to a TV camera while holding a sign. German cyclist Tony Martin brushed into the sign and fell to the ground, causing others to fall behind him.

Police aim to charge her for “deliberately violating safety regulations and so causing injuries that might prevent someone working for up to three months.”

Videos of the incident shared online show the woman waving a cardboard sign with the message “granny and granddad” written in a mixture of French and German. However, she was looking away from the peloton and did not see the riders coming towards her.

Eight cyclists had to be quickly treated by an official doctor, and another had to pull out of the tour.

According to police officials, the woman fled the scene after the crash, but investigators have asked attendees and witnesses to get in touch. “The spectator who caused this accident left the scene before the arrival of the investigators. Everything is being done to try and find her. She was wearing glasses and dressed in blue jeans, a red and white striped sweater, and a waxed yellow jacket,” a spokesman for the Finistère Gendarmerie said.

Besides, Tour de France Deputy Director Pierre-Yves Thouault confirmed that the tour would seek legal action against the unidentified woman.

“We are suing this woman who behaved so badly. We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone,” he told the AFP news agency. Shortly after the accident, the Tour de France tweeted: “For the Tour to be a success, respect the safety of the riders! Don’t risk everything for a photo or to get on television!”