Tour de France: Spectator who caused massive pile-up arrested by French Police

The spectator who caused a massive pile-up during the first stage of the Tour de France has been arrested after a search, say French Police.

Authorities add that the female spectator had been taken in custody by police in Landerneau, Brittany, where the Tour de France, the world's biggest cycling event, held its first four stages.

The spectator is accused of involuntarily causing injury and putting the life of others at risk, police say.

On Sunday (NZ time), German cyclist Tony Martin was sent tumbling, when he rode straight into a cardboard sign reading 'granny and grandad' in German, being held out by a fan looking the other way at a television camera, creating chaos with 47km left of the stage.

Another huge pile-up occurred in a nervy finale on narrow roads on Tuesday, leading the Tour de France riders to put their collective foot down one kilometre into the fourth stage on Wednesday, literally bringing the race to a halt for about a minute in a silent protest for safer racing conditions after the crashes.

Meanwhile, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar has emerged as the overwhelming favourite by destroying the field in his win in stage five - a 27.2km individual time trial.

The defending champion clocked a best time of 32 minutes between Change and Laval to beat Swiss Stefan Kueng, the European champion in the solo effort against the clock, by 18 seconds.

Dutch Mathieu van der Poel took fifth place to retain the overall leader's yellow jersey.

"I didn't think I was going to keep the jersey," says Van der Poel, who is expected to surrender his lead when the race reaches the mountains. "It was a great day, I'm really happy."

Tadej Pogacar celebrates his stage five win.
Tadej Pogacar celebrates his stage five win. Photo credit: Getty

Pogacar's performance is a massive blow to his rivals for the title, as 2018 champion Geraint Thomas ended up 1m 18s behind and last year's runner-up Primoz Roglic finished 44s off the pace.

Pogacar is now second overall, eight seconds behind Van der Poel, while Roglic is 10th.

Both Roglic and Thomas suffered nasty crashes in the opening days of racing, and they now face a huge challenge, if they are to beat Pogacar.

Another top favourite, Colombian Richard Carapaz, is ninth, 1m 36s behind Pogacar.

France's Julian Alaphilippe, who was hoping to recapture the yellow jersey, had an average day and slipped down to fourth overall, 48s behind Pogacar.

Last year, the 22 year-old Pogacar was one of the top climbers in the race and was second on the last competitive day, when he stunned Roglic in the final time trial to secure the title.