'Horrific': Spectator causes 'worst crash in Tour de France history'

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The spectator, pictured here causing one of the worst crashes the Tour de France has ever seen.
The spectator caused one of the worst crashes the Tour de France has ever seen. Images: Eurosport

A roadside spectator is set to be sued by Tour de France organisers after causing a horrific crash during the opening stage of the famous event.

There were crazy scenes on Saturday when the woman stepped onto the road with her back to the speeding peloton and held up a sign to show the television motorbike cameras.

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German rider Tony Martin collided with her and was knocked off balance racing near the head of the peloton.

His fall caused a horrifying domino effect ending in a tangle of dozens of bikes and bodies.

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

"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”.

While 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.”

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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."

According to regional newspaper Ouest France, the woman who was wearing a yellow jacket fled the scene and has yet to be found.

Bryan Coquard and Kristian Sbaragli, pictured here after the horrific crash in the Tour de France.
Bryan Coquard and Kristian Sbaragli look on after the horrific crash in the Tour de France. (Photo by Anne-Christine Poujoulat - Pool/Getty Images,)

Second massive crash mars Tour de France opening stage

Another huge pile-up occurred with 7.5 km left in the opening stage.

Bikes were sent flying to the side of the road as Chris Froome and many others including Marc Haller, Andre Greipel and Ion Izagirre were brought down.

Froome climbed back on his bike after being attended to by a race doctor but looked in considerable pain when he crossed the line 14:37 behind Alaphilippe.

The Briton, a four-time Tour champion, was back on the race after missing the last two editions following a horrific crash in June 2019.

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

Even before the crash he had little hope of winning the race, having failed to recover his best form.

Germany's Jasha Sutterlin (DSM), Marc Soler of Spain (Movistar), French rider Cyril Lemoine (BB Hotels) and Lithuania's Ignatas Konovalovas (Groupama-FDJ) were forced to withdraw as a result.

Froome's Swiss teammate Reto Hollenstein also required a visit to hospital for a scan.

"Further checkups at the hospital have ruled out any fractures for @RetoHollenstein and @chrisfroome after their crashes today," said a team statement.

"They will be monitored by the team's medical staff overnight. Another update will be given tomorrow morning."

with agencies

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