WORLD French police launch investigation into Tour de France crash

WORLD

French police launch investigation into Tour de France crash

CGTN

14:24, June 28, 2021

French police launched a call for witnesses on Sunday into the giant crash that marred the opening stage at the Tour de France, caused by a spectator who leaned into the path of the speeding peloton holding up a sign.

Cyril Lemoine of France receives medical treatment during the Tour de France's first stage in Landerneau, France, June 26, 2021. (Photo: CFP)

The woman held up a sign with "Granny and Grandad" written in German and looked up the road towards the race's motorbike cameras, crucially, with her back to the speeding peloton.

German rider Tony Martin brushed into her, lost his balance and fell, causing a sickening domino effect that swept through most of the peloton, leaving them in a tangled mess of bikes and bodies.

"The major issue on the Tour is road security," lieutenant-colonel Joel Scherer of the country's police force French Gendarmerie told AFP on Sunday.

Another policeman said that "zero fatalities" was their bottom line of assignment aim on a Tour de France or any bike race.

The woman, who was wearing a yellow raincoat, reeled away in horror when she realized the extent of her folly, but she then disappeared into the deep roadside crowds while her sign folded away beneath her arm.

Team DSM's German rider Jasha Sutterlin was the only cyclist who had to pull out at once, after his Tour de France dream ruined on day one.

Eight other riders needed treatment from the official doctor and a host of others were treated for grazes, bruises and cuts caused by the pile-up.

Italian champion Sonny Colbrelli and Dutch rider Wout van Aert, who ran over Martin before falling head over heels, had both been among the favorites to win the first stage.

"We are suing this woman who behaved so badly," Tour deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP.

"We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone," he said.

The police said that when they catch the culprit they intend to charge her with "unintentional short-term injury through a manifestly deliberate breach of a duty of safety or care", Scherer said.

"We can confirm that no member of the public was injured and we have liaised with the race organizers on this," he added.

The Tour started on Saturday from the Atlantic port of Brest.

On Sunday, four official race vehicles preceded the peloton, which set off minus three more riders who were hurt in a separate crash later on Saturday, warning over-excited roadside fans to keep their distance.

"We are telling people to keep off the route and to control their children," Scherer said.

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