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Spectator who caused horrific Tour de France pile-up fined 1,200 euros

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A woman who sparked a mass pile-up during the 2021 Tour de France was on Thursday spared a prison sentence but fined 1,200 euros for endangering the cyclists and inadvertently causing injuries.

The 31-year-old stepped into the road during the opening stage between Brest and Landerneau in north-western France on 26 June, brandishing a placard emblazoned with "Allez opi omi”.

But the affectionate greeting for her cycling fan grandparents led to catastrophe. With her back to the oncoming cyclists, the woman was unable to see the impending rush.

The veteran German rider Tony Martin was unable to avoid bumping into her and fell. Dozens of other riders crashed while others swerved into the rows of spectators along the narrow road.

TV footage of the collision and scenes of medics tending stunned and grimacing victims sparked outrage among fans and race organisers, especially when they realised the woman had fled the scene instead of staying to help.

Writing on Instagram after the crash, Martin thanked cycling fans for their support. And he criticised roadside spectators who regard the Tour de France as a circus.

"Please respect the riders and the Tour de France," he wrote. "Use your head or stay home."

Hunt

After a two-day nationwide hunt, the woman – who has not been officially identified to minimise online abuse – voluntarily went into a police station in Landerneau to confess to what she described as a big mistake.

During a hearing on 14 October, prosecutors urged judges to hand down a four month suspended sentence.

On Thursday, a court in Brest also ordered her to pay a symbolic fine of one euro to the l'Union Nationale des Cyclistes Professionnels, as well as the 1,200 euros.

"The damage suffered by the riders is physical, moral and economic,” said Gianni Bugno, the president of Cyclistes Professionnels Associés.

“An athlete trains for months for a grand tour and it is not acceptable that all his hard work, that of his family, his staff and his team is destroyed in an instant by the quest for popularity of those who should attend the event without becoming the protagonists.”

Initially, ASO – the Tour de France organisers – wanted the woman to face the full weight of the law of up to a year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros, but they eventually mollified their stance.

The 2022 Tour de France starts in Copenhagen on 1 July, and culminates just over three weeks later along the Champs Elysées in Paris.

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