The spectator who caused a huge crash at the Tour de France on Saturday has said, “I’m ashamed, I regret my stupidity.”
The 31-year-old, who was released from 24 hours’ custody this afternoon after turning herself in yesterday, was speaking at a press conference outside court in Brest today, reports Ouest-France.
The French woman, who lives with her partner in the north of the Finistere, caused the crash when, her back to the peloton, she held out a placard with the words “Allez Opi-Omi, which she explained was a message to her grandmother, originally from Germany and a huge fan of the Tour.
With nowhere to go, Tony Martin of Jumbo-Visma crashed into the woman, and on a narrow road dozens of riders were brought down, including Team DSM rider Jasha Sutterlin, who had to abandon with a broken wrist, and Marc Soler of Movistar, who completed the stage but was found to have fractures in both arms and did not start the next day.
A fan just caused a MASSIVE crash at the very beginning of the Tour De France 😬 pic.twitter.com/6q5TwQRBdU
— Blake Harms (@wxblakeharms) June 26, 2021
Camille Miansoni, public prosecutor for Brest, said a decision will now be taken on how to proceed against the spectator, whom he said was not previously known to the police or the judiciary, and that any action taken “would be proportionate to the seriousness of the case and the personality of the perpetrator.”
She potentially faces a charge “unintentional injuries with incapacity not exceeding three months by manifestly willful breach of an obligation of safety or caution,” which could lead to a fine of €1,500.
However, if any injured party files a complaint – as Soler has indicated he may do – that could rise to €15,000 and a one-year jail sentence. The pro riders’ union, the CPA, has filed an official complaint with police, but Tour de France organisers ASO today withdrew its own complaint against her, with the race’s deputy director, Pierre-Yves Thouault, saying it had decided to draw a line under the issue after the media onslaught the spectator faced afterwards.
“Attention must be focused on the riders, not the public,” he said, adding that spectators must “scrupulously respect the safety rules.”
The woman, accompanied by her partner, turned herself in to the Gendarmerie in Landernau, the town that hosted the finish of the opening stage – the crash happened with 45km remaining, and she sustained an injured arm – yesterday just before officers were due to arrive at her home to arrest her.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.