By Jonny Long
There has been no shortage of action on the road so far this Tour de France. World champions taking yellow, Mathieu van der Poel's heroics, crash-blighted finales, Mark Cavendish's comeback, yet one question remains, and reigns above all:
What has happened to the wanted Tour de France spectator, dubbed 'opi-omi'?
Well, so desperate were French television to get an update on the woman who's currently being hunted by police after her oversized sign caused a huge crash in the peloton on stage one, that they reported 'new information' from a random tweet, from a random Twitter account, live on air as stage four began.
"The spectator with the opi-omi sign has just been arrested at Glasgow airport by the Scottish police," tweeted out @Tremechan, an account with around 300 followers at the time of posting, a number which has since nearly doubled in size.
Attempting to add credibility to their hoax, they signed off the tweet with '(source: AFP)', the news agency Agence-France Presse, who had reported no such thing.
[DERNIÈRE MINUTE] la spectatrice à la pancarte Omi-Opi vient d'être interpellée à l'aéroport de Glasgow par la police écossaise.(source : AFP)June 28, 2021
"Maybe, we've found the person holding the sign, we're trying to verify the information," said presenter Laurent Luyat live on air, before passing over to former pro turned pundit Yoann Offredo.
"Indeed, she's been found in Glasgow," Offredo replied, while the peloton rolled out for the start of stage four.
pic.twitter.com/y7Y5FqEownJune 29, 2021
"I think you've hooked France TV," someone informed the mysterious Tremechan below his original tweet. "That explains why my notifications have started to pick up!" he replied.
"Amazing that they didn't get the reference," someone else added, referring to the context of the prank, which was a tribute to a well-known, and quite horrible, unsolved murder case in France.
The wife and kids of Xavier Pierre Marie Dupont de Ligonnès were killed and buried in their garden in April 2011, with Xavier nowhere to be found. He is considered the prime suspect in the case and is to this day the subject of an international arrest warrant.
The case gripped France, early internet sleuths taking up the search (drawing parallels with how authorities have asked people on Facebook to search for the opi-omi woman) with a total of 800 tips given to police since the investigation began, all of which have led to dead ends.
One false report was that Scottish police had found Xavier at Glasgow airport, which was famously announced by the French media before it turned out to be completely false.
"As with the case of Dupont De Ligonnès, the French media announce first and check afterwards. Each time it is incredible," one Frenchman said.
The search for the opi-omi woman continues, and it does seem the witch-hunt has gone much too far now, the appeal for information on Facebook having been seen by millions after being shared over 60,000 times. But still, nothing.
"Don't worry, we will find her," one slightly menacing gendarme apparently said when asked about the ongoing search.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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