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'We'd like to calm things down' - Tour de France withdraws complaint against spectator who caused pileup

Race director Christian Prudhomme stressed that ‘the incident has been blown out of all proportion’.

A crash at the first stage of the Tour de France.
A crash at the first stage of the Tour de France.
Image: AP/PA Images

THE TOUR DE France has withdrawn its legal complaint against the spectator who caused a spectacular mass pileup on the opening day of the race, its director Christian Prudhomme told AFP on Thursday.

The woman was arrested Wednesday at a police station in Landerneau in Brittany, where stage one finished on Saturday, and is still in custody.

“The incident has been blown out of all proportion,” Prudhomme said.

“So we’d like to calm things down now that the message has got across that the roadside fans need to be careful.”

The accident happened between Brest and Landerneau when the woman, facing away from the riders and towards the cameras, held up a cardboard sign which read “Allez Opi-Omi”, which translates as “Go, grandad and granny”.

German cyclist Tony Martin, positioned on the edge of a group of tightly packed riders, 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.

Amid the chaos, the woman was seen reeling away in horror before disappearing into the roadside crowd, her sign folded away beneath her arm.

Jumbo’s German six-time Tour de France stage winner Martin ha earlier called for a severe punishment that would shock the public into prudence.

“She didn’t have her brain switched on when the accident happened, but that is not an excuse for what followed,” the 36-year-old from Cottbus said following Wednesday’s time-trial.

“Not only did she fail to stick around and help us get up from the floor, she didn’t present herself to the police or present her excuses,” he told German daily Bild.

“I hope she is severely punished… (so that) it shocks anyone like her who thinks about going to a professional cycling race, so that they think about the way they behave.”

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Martin is still in the Tour but Spain’s Marc Soler is one of the riders who had to leave the Tour after the crash in which he fractured both hands.

Soler told Spain’s La Vangyardia on Wednesday he intended to lodge an official complaint about the woman.

“People come to the race to mess around and at the end of the day they go home all right, but we cyclists pay for it with our bodies,” he told Spain’s La Vanguardia.

After Saturday’s crash, the deputy director of the Tour, Pierre-Yves Thouault, had told AFP that the organisers intended to sue the culprit.

© – AFP, 2021

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