Court date for woman charged with causing giant Tour de France pile-up

Nine riders were injured in collision caused when a rider hit a spectator who was holding up a sign for TV cameras

5 July 2021

A woman accused of causing a mass pile-up on the first stage of this year’s Tour de France will appear in court in October. 

The 30-year-old, from northern Finistère, faces charges of "endangering others by manifestly deliberate violation of a particular obligation of caution or safety," and "unintentional injuries resulting in a incapacity for work not exceeding three months by deliberate failure to comply with a particular obligation of prudence or safety," according to a statement from the public prosecutor. 

She is due to appear in court in Brest on Thursday, October 14, at 13:30, it said. 

The woman was detained after handing herself in to officers at Landerneau gendarmerie. 

"The respondent expressed a feeling of shame, of fear in the face of the consequences of the act. She said she was distressed by the media coverage of what she called ‘her stupidity’," public prosecutor Camille Miansoni said at a press conference on Thursday, July 1. 

German cyclist Tony Martin was sent tumbling when he rode straight into the cardboard sign being held out by a fan looking at a passing television camera during the opening stage of this year’s race in Brittany. 

The rider later said: “I saw the lady, I saw the sign, but at the last moment she turned the sign into the road so for me there was no time to react,” Martin said. “The move was pretty unexpected. I still can't understand how people can do things like that. We're here to race our bikes; it's not a circus.” 

The collision led to several other riders falling off their bikes around 45km from the end of the Brest-Landerneau stage. Nine riders were injured in the pile-up, though only one had to retire as a result. 

It was one of two crashes on the first day of a race marked by falls and rider retirements. 

"There has always been imprudence by spectators during the Tour," former rider Joël Pelier told AFP. "In all sports there are dangers and then the particularity of cycling is that it is a sport which is practised on public roads." 

The Tour de France said on Thursday that it had withdrawn a complaint against the woman. But another complaint was lodged by the Swiss Association Professional Cyclists Association.

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