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Tour de France fan who caused pile-up set gets fine

BREST, France: The spectator behind one of the biggest pile-ups in Tour de France history was on Thursday (Dec 9) fined for the incident at this year’s event in which dozens of riders were injured.

A court in Brest, western France, ordered the 31-year old French woman, whose identity was withheld after she was targeted by a torrent of online abuse, to pay a fine of €1,200 (US$1,350).

She was also told to pay a symbolic €1 to the French professional cyclists association UNCP which was a plaintiff at the trial.

Prosecutors had asked for a four-month suspended jail term on the charges of endangering lives and causing unintentional injuries.

Prosecutor Solenn Briand acknowledged that she recognised “how dangerous” her conduct had been and had expressed regret.

She herself told the court that she felt ashamed at her “stupidity”.

The woman, who has no criminal record, had attended the opening Tour stage on Jun 26 with the goal of getting a sign noticed by TV cameras.

It read “Allez, Opi-Omi”, the German terms for “grandpa and granny”, a nod to her German-speaking grandparents who are fans of the race.

But she stepped out too far in front of the tightly packed peloton as it sped along a narrow road toward the finish in 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 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 broke both arms.

The woman’s lawyer, Julien Bradmetz, said his client had “a fragile personality for many years”.

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour, adopted a conciliatory stance.

“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 in October.

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