Cycling: Spectator who caused Tour de France crash to stand trial in October

PARIS (REUTERS, NYTIMES, AFP) – The spectator accused of having caused a massive pile-up during the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Brittany will stand trial on Oct 14, the local prosecutor’s department said on Friday (July 2).

The unnamed 30-year-old Frenchwoman is being prosecuted for involuntarily causing injury and putting the life of others at risk, the prosecutor also said in a statement.

Shehad been holding a cardboard sign saying “Go! Grandpa and granny”and facing away from the cyclists at a television camera as they passed. German rider Tony Martin was sent tumbling when he rode straight into the sign, and a large number of other riders came down in the ensuing pile-up.

The spectator was released from police custody on Friday after being arrested on Wednesday when she presented herself at a police station in Brittany.

The charges under consideration carry a maximum of two years in prison, depending on the severity of the cyclists’ injuries, local prosecutor Camille Miansoni said, but a prison term is thought to be unlikely.

“She expressed a feeling of shame, of fear for the consequences of her actions,” he said at a news conference in Brest, in the Finistère area of Brittany, where the crash occurred.

He added that the woman had no police or justice records and had expressed fear and shame after what she said was a moment of “idiocy”. Her actions had been intended as an affectionate message for her grandparents, whom he said were “unconditional, assiduous fans of the Tour de France”.

“She needed that time to process, in a way, what had happened to her,” Miansoni added. He revealed that the woman, who lives a few kilometres from the scene of the crash, seemed “overwhelmed” by the spotlight placed on her actions by the news media and on social media.

Pierre-Yves Thouault, deputy director of cycling with the Amaury Sport Organization, which runs the Tour de France, had threatened to sue the fan after the incident.

But on Thursday, the race’s director, Christian Prudhomme, told reporters that race officials had withdrawn their legal complaint. “The incident has been blown out of all proportion,” he said, according to AFP. “So we’d like to calm things down now that the message has got across that the roadside fans need to be careful.”

The accident has sparked a debate about safety and spectator conduct at the Tour de France, where fans are allowed to line the roads, but has also inflamed passions and led to widespread abuse of the woman on social media.

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