The spectator who brought down the Tour de France peloton with a cardboard sign, injuring dozens of riders, has been handed a four-month suspended prison sentence after a brief trial in Brest.
The 31-year-old woman from Brittany was not named in order to protect her identity after the furore caused by the incident in June, when she tried to get the attention of TV cameras by leaning into the road waving a wide sign as the dense peloton approached from behind her.
The sign read “Allez, Opi-Omi”, the latter phrase being a German colloquialism for grandparents. German rider Tony Martin rode into it and fell, which started a domino effect resulting in one of the biggest pile-ups in Tour de France history. Several riders abandoned the race with injuries including broken bones.
The culprit fled the scene and stayed in hiding for four days before giving herself up to police.
In court she was charged with endangering lives and causing unintentional injuries. She said she felt ashamed of her “stupidity” while her legal team highlighted the negative impact the worldwide attention and subsequent online abuse had had on her mental wellbeing, which had “terrified” her.
“I am ashamed,” she said. “I am a quiet person. Everything that has happened is the opposite of who I am.”
A lawyer representing the riders’ association (CPA) said they hoped the sentence would serve as a signal of the seriousness of her actions.
“The public is key to cycling races, it must remain that way, but it must be done with respect for the physical integrity of the riders,” the lawyer said. “This case is representative of what can happen with people who want to take centre-stage themselves with pictures, videos. It has to be done with a minimum of common sense and this was not the case there.”
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