Tour de France: French Police arrest a woman over worst-ever crash


A woman facing prison for causing one of the worst crashes in the history of the Tour de France has been arrested after four days on the run.

The suspect – who has not been identified – was arrested today and is now in custody in the small Brittany town of Landerneau. She lives in the Finistere department of Brittany, in which Landerneau is situated, according to an investigating source.

‘She did not have far to travel to get to the race, and clearly knew how to escape after causing so much damage,’ he said.

‘Numerous witnesses were interviewed, and camera footage was also inspected in order to track the suspect down.

‘Now that she has been caught, she has to be questioned at length, to find out exactly what her motives were.’

Prosecutors launched a criminal inquiry following the collapse of an entire peloton on Saturday, when 21 cyclists including Britain’s Chris Froome were seriously hurt.

The woman was filmed standing by the side of the road and grinning at TV cameras while holding up a large sign saying ‘Go! Grandma and Grandpa’ in a mixture of French and German – leading prosecutors to think she may have flown in for the race.

She had her back to the approaching peloton and was hit in the left arm before spinning around.

German cyclist Tony Martin was the first to go down, and then there was a horrifying domino effect that ended in a tangle of bikes and bodies.

There were numerous wounds, including ones to Jasha Sütterlin, another German rider, who had to pull out of the entire contest.

‘The spectator who caused this accident left the scene before the arrival of the investigators, but has not been arrested and place in custody after four days’ said a spokesman for the Finistere gendarmerie.

Saturday’s race was between Brest to Landeneau, and this is the reason she was today being held in the town 

The suspect can initially be held for a period of 48 hours before she is charged, her custody period extended, or is set free.

Beyond the initial possible charge, the woman could face further accusations if individual riders chose to complain about her, said the source.

‘This could ultimately lead to far greater punishments against her,’ added the source.

A roadside spectator (left) caused a massive crash in the Tour de France on Saturday with a banner aimed at her family. A woman has since been arrested and taken into custody hours on from prosecutors revealing they were 'confident'

A roadside spectator (left) caused a massive crash in the Tour de France on Saturday with a banner aimed at her family. A woman has since been arrested and taken into custody hours on from prosecutors revealing they were ‘confident’

Tony Martin had nowhere to go when the supporter stepped out, looking at the TV cameras and it started the huge pile-up

Tony Martin had nowhere to go when the supporter stepped out, looking at the TV cameras and it started the huge pile-up

The accident caused a massive blockage and saw more than 20 riders hit the deck injured in one of the Tour's worst crashes

The accident caused a massive blockage and saw more than 20 riders hit the deck injured in one of the Tour’s worst crashes

The massive crash took place near the summit of the Saint-Rivoal hill in the town of Saint-Cadou, some 30 miles from the end of the 123-mile race from the Atlantic port city of Brest, which is where the nearest airport is. She is now being questioned in Landerneau, where the first stage concluded on Saturday

The massive crash took place near the summit of the Saint-Rivoal hill in the town of Saint-Cadou, some 30 miles from the end of the 123-mile race from the Atlantic port city of Brest, which is where the nearest airport is. She is now being questioned in Landerneau, where the first stage concluded on Saturday

Riders survey the damage after the crash during the 108th Tour de France 2021, with many left bruised and battling injuries

Riders survey the damage after the crash during the 108th Tour de France 2021, with many left bruised and battling injuries

Prosecutors have opened a criminal enquiry for ‘deliberately violating safety regulations and so causing injuries that might prevent someone working for up to three months.’

This is an indictable offence in France punishable with up to a year in prison and a fine equivalent to just under £13,000.

Pierre-Yves Thouault, the deputy race director of the Tour de France, also said that organisers had filed a complaint against the woman.

‘This is unacceptable behaviour,’ he said.’There are safety rules to follow. Spectatores don’t cross the road, they don’t take selfies.

‘Frankly, the attitude her was insane. The show is the riders, not spectators who want to be on TV.

‘The Tour must remain a party but because of the attitude of a very small minority, it is ruined. We can no longer accept this.’

Recalling the accident from his hospital bed, Chris Froome said: ‘In a split-second there were 50 or 60 of us all on the ground. I guess that’s bike racing.’

The massive crash took place near the summit of the Saint-Rivoal hill in the town of Saint-Cadou, some 30 miles from the end of the 123-mile second stage of this year’s Tour.

The woman is now being held in Landerneau (above), the small town in Brittany where Sunday's first stage concluded

The woman is now being held in Landerneau (above), the small town in Brittany where Sunday’s first stage concluded 

Tour de France surgeon Gilbert Versier (right) likened the chaos caused in the crash to a 'war zone' such as Afghanistan or Iraq

Tour de France surgeon Gilbert Versier (right) likened the chaos caused in the crash to a ‘war zone’ such as Afghanistan or Iraq

One of the cyclists, Swiss star Marc Hirschi, found himself thrown into the nearby hedges and he dislocated his shoulder

One of the cyclists, Swiss star Marc Hirschi, found himself thrown into the nearby hedges and he dislocated his shoulder

The crash has been labelled as one of the worst ever in the history of the Tour de France, which is in its 108th instalment

The crash has been labelled as one of the worst ever in the history of the Tour de France, which is in its 108th instalment

The tour’s on-site surgeon Gilbert Versier, a three-star general operating out in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the aftermath of the crash resembled a war zone.  

‘It looks like a war scene, the same chaos, the same moans, bodies everywhere and tangled machines,’ Versier told French daily newspaper L’Equipe. 

‘You can’t imagine so much breakage. In the midst of the commotion, the runners getting up and wanting to start again, the most serious cases must be identified. 

‘In general, these are the ones who are furthest from the accident site, because they have been thrown.’ 

  Things took another turn for the worst at the Tour on Tuesday when Team Ineos’ Geraint Thomas dislocated his shoulder on another chaotic race day for stage 3.

When Thomas crashed less than 25 miles into the 114-mile stage, it appeared his race might be over as he sat on the road in pain and fell three minutes behind the peloton. But after having his shoulder popped back in, he remounted and lost just 26sec by the finish. He is 67sec off the overall leader. 

An X-ray on Monday night confirmed the Welshman had not suffered a fracture, but he will be reassessed this morning ahead of the first time trial on Wednesday.