A fan of the Tour de France who caused a pile-up to avoid prison


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Brest (France) (AFP)

The spectator behind one of the biggest pilots in Tour de France history appeared in court Thursday for injuring dozens of runners, but appeared poised to avoid jail after prosecutors demanded a conviction suspended.

The 31-year-old Frenchwoman, whose identity was withheld after being the target of a torrent of online abuse, has already told prosecutors she is ashamed of her “stupidity”.

Dressed in a blue sweater, she fled the melee of journalists who were waiting at the courthouse in Brest, in western France.

But the president rejected her lawyer’s request to hold the trial behind closed doors.

The prosecution demanded that she be given a four-month suspended prison sentence for endangering life and unintentional injury.

Under French law, she could have faced a fine of up to 15,000 euros ($ 17,300) and one year in prison for the charges.

Prosecutor Solenn Briand admitted that she had recognized “how dangerous her driving was” and had expressed her regret.

The trial was adjourned for a verdict on December 9.

– “Living hell” –

The woman, who has no criminal record, attended the Tour’s opening stage on June 26 in a bid to get a sign noticed by television cameras.

He was reading “Come on, Opi-Omi”, the German terms for “grandfather and granny”, a nod to his family’s German roots.

But she went too far ahead of the tight peloton as it sped along a narrow road towards the finish in Landerneau in western France.

German runner Tony Martin couldn’t avoid hitting her and fell, forcing dozens of runners to crash as others swerved into the crowd of spectators.

The prosecution asked that the woman be sentenced to four months in prison JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER AFP

Video footage of the collision and gruesome scenes of medics dealing with stunned or grimacing victims sparked outrage from fans and race organizers, especially when they realized the woman had fled the scene instead. to stay to help.

She remained in hiding for four days before surrendering to the police.

Several riders had to withdraw from the race, including the Spaniard Marc Soler, who had both arms broken.

But the woman’s lawyer, Julien Bradmetz, said her client had “a fragile personality for many years”.

“This fragility has now increased tenfold so today my client is going through hell,” he said.

– ‘Breeze in an instant’ –

The test opened on the same day that organizers unveiled the route and stages of next year’s race, which will start in Copenhagen and also includes routes in Switzerland and Belgium.

Tour organizers, the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), had initially planned to take legal action, but later said they wanted to “calm things down” and would not be complaining.

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour, adopted a conciliatory position on the affair by announcing the new route in Paris.

“She did something stupid, she’s not a terrorist. We just want people to be careful when they come to the Tour and remember that they are there to see the champions and not to be on TV. “he told reporters.

But the Swiss-based International Cavaliers Association (CPA) has upheld its complaint and is demanding a symbolic euro in damages to send a message against the dangerous behavior of fans during the stages.

“The damage suffered by runners is physical, moral and economic,” CPA President Gianni Bugno said in a statement on Wednesday.

“An athlete prepares months for a big tour and it is not acceptable that all his hard work, that of his family, his staff and his team, is shattered in an instant by the quest for popularity”, a- he declared.

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