A woman who went on the run after causing a horrific mass pile-up at the Tour de France has finally been arrested after four days.
The unidentified spectator, caught on TV cameras holding a cardboard sign in a yellow rain coat, sparked a debate about safety and fan conduct after the accident on Saturday that left dozens of riders nursing bruises.
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The woman managed to evade police and reportedly left the country before finally being arrested on Wednesday.
"The woman has been formally identified and she was taken into custody a few minutes ago," a source told AFP after the state prosecutor for the city of Brest, Camille Miansoni, confirmed that "a suspect is in custody".
The accident on the first stage of the race occurred between Brest and Landerneau in northwestern Britanny when the woman, facing away from the riders and towards the cameras, held up the sign which read "Allez Opi-Omi" - which translates as "Go, grandpa and granny".
Positioned on the edge of a group of tightly packed riders, German cyclist Tony Martin hit the sign and fell, bringing down dozens of others who were following behind him.
The pileup delayed the stage for five minutes while bikes and bodies were untangled, with some describing the horror scenes as the worst they'd ever seen at the Tour de France.
The worst Tour de France crash I've ever seen pic.twitter.com/1jngQE1pYg
— daniel mcmahon (@cyclingreporter) June 26, 2021
Scariest thing about that crash was that by the time Tony Martin stopped sliding along the road, the spectator who got the in the way was comfortably out of the helicopter shot. #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/JIudtdwnRS
— Nick Bull (@nickbull21) June 26, 2021
Woman with sign causes the ‘worst crash in Tour de France history’ https://t.co/pza4IIK9aM
— Wout Jan Balhuizen (@WJBalhuizen) June 26, 2021
Just seen that crash on Tour de France highlights jeez horrific 😱
— Her Majesty 👑 Queen Melanie (@melthegorgeous) June 26, 2021
Woman flees after causing horror Tour de France crash
Amid the chaos, the woman was seen reeling away in horror before disappearing into the deep roadside crowd, her sign folded away beneath her arm.
Her use of "Opi-Omi" - two diminutive terms for grandparents in German - led to speculation that she was from Germany, but the source confirmed to AFP that the arrested woman was French.
"We'll know more tomorrow morning," prosecutor Miansoni said.
The incident and a series of crashes on the second and third stages of the race angered teams and led to the entire peloton staging a symbolic protest at the start of Tuesday's fourth stage.
Riders all came to a stop for a brief period, before setting off again at a leisurely pace.
After Saturday's crash, the deputy director of the Tour, Pierre-Yves Thouault, told AFP that the organisers intended to sue the culprit.
"We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone," he said.
The woman is expected to be charged with causing "unintentional short-term injury through a manifestly deliberate breach of a duty of safety or care."
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