French spectator who caused massive Tour de France pile-up when she held up a sign saying ‘granny and grandad’ looks set to avoid jail as prosecutors demand suspended sentence
- The 31-year-old spectator who caused a pile-up at Tour de France set to avoid jail
- At a courthouse in Brest, France, prosecutors demanded suspended sentence
- They said the woman had already admitted her shame at her own ‘stupidity’
- Presiding judge denied her lawyer’s request to hold trial behind closed doors
- A final verdict is expected to be delivered later this year on December 9
The French spectator who caused the huge pile-up in the Tour de France after holding up a sign for her grandparents is set to avoid jail.
The 31-year-old, whose identity was withheld after she was targeted by a torrent of online abuse, appeared at a courthouse in Brest, France today.
Prosecutors are only demanding a suspended sentence for the woman who has already admitted being ashamed at her ‘stupidity’ which injured dozens of riders.
A roadside spectator (left) who caused a massive crash in the Tour de France will likely avoid jail time
The supporter stepped out looking at the TV cameras and the pack of cyclists rode into her, causing a huge crash
Wearing a blue sweater, she fled the scrum of journalists waiting at the courthouse today.
But the presiding judge rejected a request by her lawyer to have the trial held behind closed doors.
The prosecution requested that she be given a four-month suspended sentence on the charges of endangering lives and causing unintentional injuries.
Under French law she could have faced a fine of up to 15,000 euros (£12,700) and a year in prison for the charges.
Prosecutor Solenn Briand acknowledged that she had recognised ‘how dangerous’ her conduct had been and had expressed regret.
The trial was adjourned for a verdict on December 9.
The woman, who has no criminal record, had attended the opening Tour stage on June 26 with the goal of getting a sign noticed by TV cameras.
The accident caused a massive blockage and saw more than 20 riders hit the deck injured in one of the Tour’s worst crashes
The massive crash took place near the summit of the Saint-Rivoal hill in the town of Saint-Cadou, some 30 miles from the end of the 123-mile race from the Atlantic port city of Brest
It read ‘Allez, Opi-Omi,’ the German terms for ‘grandpa and granny,’ a nod to her family’s German roots.
But she stepped out too far in front of the tightly packed peloton as it sped along a narrow road toward the finish at Landerneau in western France.
German rider Tony Martin was unable to avoid bumping into her and fell, forcing dozens of riders to crash while others swerved into the crowds of onlookers.
Video footage of the collision and ghastly scenes of medics tending stunned or grimacing victims sparked outrage among fans and race organisers, especially when they realised 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 had both arms broken.
Riders survey the damage after the crash during the 108th Tour de France 2021, with many left bruised and battling injuries
But the woman’s lawyer Julien Bradmetz said his client had had ‘a fragile personality for many years’.
‘This fragility has now increased tenfold so today my client is living through hell,’ he said.
German cyclist Tony Martin was the first to go down, and then there was a horrifying domino effect that ended in a tangle of bikes and bodies.
There were numerous wounds, including ones to Jasha Sütterlin, another German rider, who had to pull out of the entire contest.
The tour’s on-site surgeon Gilbert Versier, a three-star general operating out in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the aftermath of the crash resembled a war zone.
‘It looks like a war scene, the same chaos, the same moans, bodies everywhere and tangled machines,’ Versier told French daily newspaper L’Equipe.
‘You can’t imagine so much breakage. In the midst of the commotion, the runners getting up and wanting to start again, the most serious cases must be identified.
The crash has been labelled as one of the worst ever in the history of the Tour de France, which is in its 108th instalment
One of the cyclists, Swiss star Marc Hirschi, found himself thrown into the nearby hedges and he dislocated his shoulder
‘In general, these are the ones who are furthest from the accident site, because they have been thrown.’
The trial opened the same day as organisers unveiled the route and stages for next year’s race, which will start in Copenhagen and also includes routes in Switzerland and Belgium.
The Tour’s organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), had originally planned to sue but later said it wanted to ‘calm things down’ and would not be a plaintiff.
Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour, adopted a conciliatory stance over the case as he announced the new route in Paris.
‘She did something daft, she’s no terrorist. We just want people to take care when they come to the Tour and remember they are there to see the champions and not to get on television,’ he told reporters.
But the Switzerland-based International Association of Riders (CPA) has maintained its complaint and is seeking a symbolic one euro in damages to send a message against dangerous fan behaviour during stages.
‘The damage suffered by the riders is physical, moral and economic,’ CPA president Gianni Bugno said in a statement Wednesday.
‘An athlete prepares months for a grand tour and it is not acceptable that all his hard work, that of his family, his staff and his team, should be shattered in an instant by the quest for popularity,’ he said.
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