Woman tells prosecutors she feels ashamed of her ‘stupidity’ after obstructing cyclists during race in June
A spectator whose attempt to get noticed by TV cameras while cheering the Tour de France caused one of the biggest pile-ups in the race’s history has gone on trial charged with injuring dozens of riders.
The 31-year-old from Brittany in France, whose identity was withheld after she was subjected to online abuse, told prosecutors she felt ashamed of her “stupidity”.
As she stood with other spectators at the side of a narrow road near the finish of the first day’s race in north-west France, she held up a wide cardboard sign that read: “Allez, Opi-Omi” – informal German terms for grandparents.
She was hoping to be spotted by TV cameras to impress her German-origin grandparents, who were watching the race on TV. But she stepped out too far in front of the tightly packed peloton as it sped along the road.
The German rider Tony Martin bumped into her and fell, causing dozens of riders to crash while others swerved into the crowd.
Footage of the collision showing medics tending stunned and grimacing victims sparked outrage among fans and race organisers, especially when they discovered the woman had fled the scene instead of staying to help. She remained in hiding for four days before turning herself in to police.
Several riders had to pull out of the race, including Spain’s Marc Soler, who broke his arms.
The defendant was charged with endangering lives and causing unintentional injuries and could face a fine of up to €15,000 and a year in prison.
The public prosecutor of Brest noted that the woman had some “personal vulnerabilities”. Prosecutors were told the defendant had been “anguished” by the media fallout from the incident.
The Switzerland-based International Association of Riders, CPA, seeks a symbolic €1 in damages to warn against dangerous fan behaviour during the Tour de France. “The damage suffered by the riders is physical, moral and economic,” its president, Gianni Bugno, said.