French authorities have launched an investigation after a spectator interfered in stage one of the Tour de France on Saturday, causing a massive pileup with less than 30 miles until the finish line.
The French Gendarmerie said in a statement posted to Facebook that they are actively looking for the woman who held out a cardboard sign into the road causing the crash that resulted in several riders sustaining serious injuries.
Authorities said the suspect, dressed in blue jeans, a red and white striped shirt and a yellow raincoat, fled the scene before anyone could reach her.
Several videos posted on social media showed a spectator holding out a cardboard sign on the side of the road when a rider in the peloton crashed into the sign, causing a massive pileup.
The Dutch riding team, Jumbo-Visma, was among the racers most significantly impacted by the crash. Cyclist Tony Martin was the one who made contact with the spectator’s sign, according to reports.
Martin reportedly suffered road rash from the initial crash but was able to rejoin the race while Germany’s Jasha Sutterlin had to withdraw. Several others were injured including Spain’s Marc Soler who withdrew from the race following the completion of stage one after he suffered fractures in both arms, eurosport.com reported.
Tour deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP that they plan to sue.
“We are suing this woman who behaved so badly,” he said. “We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone.”
Lieutenant-colonel Joel Scherer of the French Gendarmerie also told AFP that they intend to charge the suspect when she’s found for “unintentional short-term injury through a manifestly deliberate breach of a duty of safety or care.”