Spectator goes missing after 'horrific' crash at Tour de France

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Pictured here, the Tour de France spectator who caused a horrific stage one crash.
The Tour de France spectator who caused the crash is yet to be identified by police. Pic: Twitter/Getty

French police are still working to identify the female spectator who caused one of the worst crashes in Tour de France history on the opening stage of this year's race.

The woman was at the centre of chaotic scenes in France on Saturday when she stepped onto the road with her back to the speeding peloton and held up a sign that German rider Tony Martin collided with, sparking a catastrophic domino effect.

'THIS IS SCARY': Concerns over Origin crowd amid Covid chaos

'GOOD LORD': Fans in frenzy over Kyrgios and Venus Williams news

Martin was sent tumbling when he rode straight into a cardboard sign being held out by a fan looking the other way at a television camera, creating chaos with 47 kilometres left of the stage.

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

French police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information that may help them locate the culprit - to come forward.

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.

Authorities in France have been scouring north-west France to try and find the woman responsible, however, she still remains at large.

"The Landerneau police are investigating and we haven't heard back from them yet," Tour deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault told Reuters after organisers ASO filed a lawsuit against the unidentified spectator.

"We are going to repeat our calls for fans to behave time and again, through the police on the side of the road and our social network," Thouault added.

"Most of the fans are peaceful but I want to stress that you come see the Tour, you don't take selfies, you keep your kids close to you."

Martin - whose collision with the spectator's sign sparked the crazy chain of events - was livid about the incident after the race.

“I saw the lady, I saw the sign but there was no time to react,” the Jumbo-Visma team captain said. 

“I still can’t understand how people can do things like that. We’re here to race our bikes – it’s not a circus.”

Israel-Start Up Nation sports manager Rik Verbrugghe said that while riders enjoyed the support of fans, they created an extra stress in the peloton.

Cyril Lemoine is attended to by medics after the crash. (Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat - Pool/Getty Images)
Cyril Lemoine is attended to by medics after the crash. (Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat - Pool/Getty Images)

"It’s a good thing to have all those fans on the side of the road but it brings extra stress, extra danger," he told reporters.

"We saw also the first crash was because of a fan. Most of the time the fans make it pretty dangerous because they make the road narrower. But it’s part of the game, that’s what makes cycling so exciting and so beautiful."

Martin, one of dozens of riders to hit the ground on Saturday, urged the fans to be more respectful.

"This message is for the people who think that the Tour de France is a circus, for the people who risk everything for a selfie with a 50 kph fast peloton... please respect the riders and the Tour de France," the German wrote on Instagram.

"Use your head or stay home!"

DSM's German rider Jasha Sutterlin was forced to pull out of the race, while several people were hurt, including spectators.

Organisers set to sue offender

"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 don't spoil the show for everyone."

Cycling journalist Daniel McMahon labelled it “the worst Tour de France crash I’ve ever seen”, with many describing the carnage as "horrific" to witness.

NY Times reporter Juliet Macur wrote: “An imbecile fan caused this massive crash at the #TourDeFrance2021 by holding a sign that jutted into the course and took down the first of countless riders. 

"The sign said, ‘Go, grandpa and grandma’. Those grandparents must be so proud.”

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Van der Poel takes yellow jersey off Alaphilippe 

Italian champion Sonny Colbrelli and Dutch rider Wout van Aert, who ran over Martin before falling head over heels, had both been amongst the favourites to win the first stage hilltop finish but were both badly delayed.

Two Ineos riders Richie Porte and Tao Geoghegan Hart both lost time, while champion Tadej Pogacar saw his right hand man Marc Hirschi badly hurt.

Eventual stage winner Julian Alaphilippe had blood dripping from his knee when he crossed the line.

"I hope everyone is OK. I'm calling on the fans to be careful," said Alaphilippe.

"It's nice to see the fans back on the side of the road, but please be careful."

French fans saw Alaphilippe lose the yellow jersey on the second stage as Mathieu Van der Poel claimed the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Seen here, Mathieu van der Poel celebrates after winning stage 2 of the 2021 Tour de France.
Mathieu van der Poel celebrates after crossing the finish line at the end of the 2nd stage of the Tour de France. Pic: Getty

The Dutch 25-year-old is the grandson of late French cycling icon Raymond Poulidor, a regular on the Tour de France podium and beloved of French fans despite never wearing the fabled yellow jersey.

After winning on his first Tour de France, Van der Poel dropped to the tarmac gasping for breath before weeping with his hands covering his face as the weight of Poulidor's historic legacy was lifted on two dramatic ascents of the same hill, the Mur-de-Bretagne.

Van der Poel collected the maximum of 18 bonus seconds for crossing the summit in the lead twice, and then winning by a clear margin after accelerating away from a chasing clutch of elite road racers.

with agencies

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting