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Placard-waving spectator who caused huge Tour de France crash arrested

Prosecutors confirm a woman has been taken into custody in Saturday's stage finish town, Landernau...

The placard-waving spectator who caused a huge crash on Saturday's opening stage of the Tour de France in Brittany has been arrested, prosecutors in Brest have confirmed. Ouest-France reports that the woman, who fled the scene of the crash which happened when she was standing on the roadside with her back to the peloton, has been taken into custody in Landernau, where the stage finished.

The crash happened with 45km remaining of the stage from Brest, with dozens of riders coming down after Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin, riding ahead of team-mate Primoz Roglic on the right-hand side of the peloton, hit her.

She had leant out into the road, displaying for the TV camera a message reading “Allez Opi-Omi” – the latter being the diminutives, in German, for “grandad” and “grandma.”

Since Saturday, prosecutors and the Gendarmerie in the Finistere department have been trying to ascertain the spectator’s identity, including via an appeal on Facebook.

The investigation centres upon “unintentional injuries with incapacity not exceeding three months by manifestly willful breach of an obligation of safety or caution.”

The suspect could face a fine of €1,500, however, if other parties file a complaint – something Tour de France organisers have indicated they will do – the potential fine rises to €15,000, as well as the prospect of up to 12 months in prison.

Yesterday, Ouest-France reported that the state prosecutor in Brest, Camille Miansoni, was “confident” of finding the suspect.

“Things are going well and we hope to be able to shed some light on this event within a reasonable time,” he said.

“After the witness appeal that was launched that evening, a number of eyewitness accounts were gathered.

“Obviously, they need to be collected and checked,” he continued, saying that would “take some time.”

“I can’t give any more information, but we’re confident,” he added.

A number of media outlets yesterday reported that the spectator had left France by plane – although as this article from Insider.com explains, that appears to be due to misinterpretation of running an article from Ouest-France through Google Translate.

The translation tool renders a phrase in a report from the newspaper at the weekend, which said that the woman “a pris la poudre d'escampette” – a colloquialism roughly meaning to scarper, or flee the scene – as “took flight,” hence the confusion.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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