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Spectator arrested for allegedly causing massive Tour de France crash

Tim de Waele/Corbis via Getty Images

(PARIS) — After a four-day search, a woman was arrested Wednesday as part of the investigation into a large crash at the Tour de France earlier last week, according to local prosecutors.

The 30-year-old suspect turned herself into police and expressed feelings “of shame, of fear, in the face of the consequences of her act,” public prosecutor Camille Miansoni said Thursday. She is “distressed by the media coverage of what she calls ‘her blunder,'” added Miansoni.

Prosecutors said police would take measures “proportionate to the seriousness of the facts and to the personality of the author.”

The woman is accused of causing a large crash by holding a sign in front of cyclists in the opening stage of the competition on Saturday. She had allegedly left the scene before authorities arrived. Her cardboard sign read “allez opi-omi,” meaning “go grandma-grandpa” in German.

After the crash, three riders withdrew from the race due to their injuries, according to the Tour’s organizers, including German cyclist Jasha Sütterlin of Team DSM.

“Following the crash, he was taken to hospital for examinations which revealed no broken bones, but a severe contusion to his right wrist that will require further examinations back at home,” Team DSM said in a statement about Sütterlin, who admitted he was “so disappointed.”

Tony Martin, a member of top Tour contender Primoz Roglic’s Jumbo Visma squad, hit the woman on the right side of the road, causing a domino effect for riders inside the peloton.

The first fall was followed by another, which injured four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.

Riders briefly halted the race on Tuesday to protest against the danger caused by spectators who were too close to the road.

“Following the crashes during the third stage of the Tour de France, the riders have been discussing how they wish to proceed to show their dissatisfaction with safety measures in place and demand their concerns are taken seriously,” the riders’ union, the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés, said in a statement. “Their frustration about foreseeable and preventable action is enormous.”

The local chief of police Nicolas Duvinage on Thursday called for calm in a press conference, saying the suspect was trying to send a message on TV to her grandparents and that it is “wise not to carry out a media lynching.”

Fearing a backlash, Tour de France organizers decided to drop their suit against the fan in question and withdrew their complaint “for the sake of appeasement … in the face of the excitement on social media,” said Tour director Pierre-Yves Thouault. “We don’t want to look like we are flogging a dead horse. But we remind you of the safety rules.”

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