In case you haven’t seen that Tour de France 2021 crash video circulating online, a spectator and her cardboard sign took out dozens of cyclists in this year’s race. And now, French authorities are investigating the incident, which occurred near the commune of Landerneau, France, with about 47 kilometers (29 miles) left in the race’s first stage.
On Facebook, law enforcement officials from France’s Finstère area say they’re investigating the “manifestly deliberate violation of an obligation of safety or prudence” that led to the massive pile-up on Saturday, June 26, 2021.
The authorities are also seeking witnesses, since the woman with the sign left the scene by the time investigators showed up. And a spokesperson for the Amaury Sports Organization, which organizes the Tour de France, told CNN that the company had filed a complaint to authorities.
The spectator stepped in the path of the Tour de France riders in an apparent attempt to get on camera.
As captured in footage from the race, the woman stepped close to the edge of the road, pointing to a sign reading “Allez Opi-Omi!” toward the camera.
German cyclist Tony Martin struck the sign and crashed to the ground, causing a chain reaction of crashes affecting dozens of other riders and delaying the race by several minutes, according to Slate. On Twitter, cycling reporter and Insider copy chief Daniel McMahon called the wreck “the worst Tour de France crash I’ve ever seen.”
Three riders withdrew from the race after the first stage, the Tour de France website revealed. One of those cyclists is German rider Jasha Sütterlin, who “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,” according to a statement from his team.
Tour de France spectators are urged to remain on the sidelines.
Julian Alaphilippe, a French cyclist who suffered a knee injury in the crash before winning the stage, told Reuters, “I hope everyone is OK. I’m calling on the fans to be careful. It’s nice to see the fans back on the side of the road, but please be careful.”
The Tour de France Twitter account echoed that sentiment, tweeting, “We’re glad to have the public on the side of the road on the #TDF2021. But for the Tour to be a success, respect the safety of the riders! Don’t risk everything for a photo or to get on television!”
Other Twitter users, however, didn’t mince their words. “In an attempt to get a cardboard sign on TV, a spectator has taken out the entire peloton — maddening,” one wrote.
What does "allez opi-omi" mean?
Naturally, people have been wondering what message could have been important enough to cause someone to step out onto the road. Translated from French and German, "allez opi-omi" means “Come on grandpa-grandma." Presumably, the woman intended to share a fun message with her grandparents, who were watching the race from elsewhere. After the crash, though, we're guessing she probably hoped her grandparents weren't watching.
Belgian rider Jasper Stuyven tweeted, “I hope Omi & Opi are proud of you. On a serious note, though, great to see still many spectators are loving our sport and cheering for us, but please, stay on the side of the road, not on the road!”
Another crash on Saturday occurred with 7.5 kilometers (about 5 miles) remaining in the first stage. According to Reuters, that second wreck impacted Chris Froome, Marco Haller, André Greipel, and Ion Izagirre, among other cyclists.
The 2,122-mile 2021 Tour de France runs through July 18.