Those watching the Tour De France cycle race last week would have been biting their nails – though not at a nail biting finish! Instead, a tragic mishap by a spectator who held out a sign for the TV cameras caused the largest pile up in Tour De France history by taking out the majority of the peloton. The enthusiastic and unfortunate bystander, who had visited the race in order to express their support for the cyclists, was a little too keen to show their support and lent too far into the race track in order to be seen by the cameras.
The sign missed the first couple of riders, before hitting German cyclist Tony Martin and causing the entire rest of the peloton to crash and make an enormous pile up of unmounted cyclists. The race’s first four stages have been taking place in Brittany, France, where the culprit handed themselves into the police after a four day manhunt online. The spectator has been identified as a 30 year old French woman who has been fined 1,500 Euros and charged with involuntarily causing injury and putting the lives of others at risk.
The Tour De France is the world’s largest cycling event and was first started in 1903. The original race ran from Paris through Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Nantes before heading back to Paris. A last stop of Toulouse was added in the latter half of the 20th century. The race is now broadcast around the world and millions were tuned in during last Saturday’s race to watch live as it turned to carnage.
There was only 47 km (29.2 m) left in the race when the crash happened. Tour organisers have come out as furious at the situation and perceived lack of respect for the race from fame hungry fans. Pierre-Yves Thouault, the Tour’s deputy director, said the organisers plan to sue the woman “who behaved so badly. We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this don’t spoil the show for everyone.”