Tour de France: Crash-causing fan flees country, goes into hiding as authorities plot legal action

The spectator who caused the chaotic pile-up on the opening stage of the Tour de France has gone into hiding, with authorities planning on suing her.

According to a report from French outlet Ouest-France, the woman has since fled the country, and is believed to have flown to Germany.

The crash saw German Tony Martin sent tumbling, as he rode straight into a cardboard sign being held out by the fan looking the other way at a television camera, creating chaos with 47km left of the stage.

The incident also claimed the race's first victim, with German Jasha Suetterlin of Team DSM abandoning the Tour due to the injuries he sustained.

At least 26 riders were injured during the first stage of the Tour de France on Sunday (NZ time), with two serious crashes taking place.

Tour de France deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP they plan to sue the woman "so that the tiny minority of people who do this don't spoil the show for everyone."

French rider Julian Alaphilippe won the opening stage, while Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands holds the yellow jersey after Tuesday. 

Tuesday's fourth stage also saw riders stage a protest one kilometer into racing, wanting safer conditions for future stages.