Tour de France: Spectator who brought down peloton with cardboard sign goes on trial

The spectator who brought down the Tour de France peloton with a cardboard sign has gone on trial in Brest charged with injuring dozens of riders.

The 31-year-old woman from Brittany has not been 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, and it started a domino effect which resulted 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 could face a custodial sentence of up to a year, as well as a fine of up to €15,000 (£13,000).

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She told the court 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.

A lawyer representing the riders’ association (CPA) said: “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. 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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