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Tour de France drops legal action against 'ashamed' fan

July 1, 2021

A cycling spectator who caused a mass pileup has told investigators she feels ashamed of her "stupidity." She is worried about the huge public interest in her case as local authorities press charges.

a woman in a yellow coat holds up a sign with the words allez opi omi as the peleton approaches
A spectator caused a massive pileup with a cardboard signImage: Screenshot ARD

Tour de France organizers have dropped legal action against a spectator who caused a massive crash on the first stage, they announced on Thursday.

Organizers made the decision in a bid to defuse the situation after an outpouring of anger online.

Wearing a bright yellow coat, the woman held up a large cardboard sign with the words "Go! Grandpa and granny" written in French and German, in front of the cyclists, causing a pile-up during the first stage of the race in northwestern Brittany when she did not see the riders approaching.

She fled the scene before gendarmes in Brittany arrested her on Wednesday, four days after the accident.

Incident 'blown out of all proportion'

"The incident has been blown out of all proportion," Tour director Christian Prudhomme told the AFP news agency on the decision to drop legal action.

"We'd like to calm things down now that the message has got across that the roadside fans need to be careful," he added.

Brest prosecutor Camille Miansoni said, "The suspect has expressed her feelings of shame and fear about the consequences of her act.

"She said she is worried about the media attention for what she has called her 'stupidity,'" Miansoni added.

Local police chief Nicolas Duviage said an appeal for witnesses posted on Facebook led to more than 4,000 messages, some of which "were verging on incitement to violence."

"The person being accused also has personal weaknesses and it is, therefore, advisable not to proceed to a media lynching or on social networks," he said.

Will still face some charges

Despite the Tour's decision, Miansoni later told the AFP news agency that the spectator will appear in court on criminal charges of endangering public safety in Brest, northwest France, on October 14. The Swiss professional cycling association has also filed a complaint against the woman.

This article has been updated to reflect that charges have been brought against the spectator by local authorities.

kmm/sms (AFP, AP)