Tour de France fan who caused pile-up set to avoid jail

The prosecution requested that the woman be given a four-month suspended sentence

The spectator behind one of the biggest pile-ups in Tour de France history appeared in court Thursday charged with injuring dozens of riders but seemed set to avoid jail after prosecutors demanded a suspended sentence.

The 31-year-old French woman, whose identity was withheld after she was targeted by a torrent of online abuse, has already told prosecutors of being ashamed at her “stupidity”.

But the presiding judge rejected a request by her lawyer to have the trial held behind closed doors.

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

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.

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.

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.

Several riders had to pull out of the race, including Spain’s Marc Soler, who had both arms broken.

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

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.

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour, adopted a conciliatory stance over the case as he announced the new route in Paris.

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.

“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.

Originally published as Tour de France fan who caused pile-up set to avoid jail

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