The woman’s cardboard sign was responsible for one of the worst crashes in the history of Tour de France
On Thursday a French court convicted and fined a French woman whose Cardboard sign caused a chaotic crash at Tour de France during the June Competition. She had stood in the path of the riders waving her cardboard sign and causing a collision with one of them.
She was declared guilty by a criminal court in Brest of reckless endangerment and involuntarily causing injuries.
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The riders were 45km (28 miles) from the end of the first stage when German rider Tony Martin encountered her obstructive sign causing a pileup of dozens of cyclists.
Martin crashed to the ground, which resulted in a chain reaction of falls of other cyclists. It was described as one of the worst crashes to be recorded in the famous tournament.
The 31-year-old woman was fined €1,200 ($1,357; £1,028) for causing the deadly crash and was also ordered to pay a one euro symbolic fine to the Cyclist Association of France which is by far less than the maximum penalties she was facing.
According to the AFP news agency, the identity of the woman who was a spectator at the tournament was withheld due to floods of online threats targeting her.
Video footage of the crash which occurred in June went viral on several social media platforms.
The woman clad in a yellow jacket is seen in the video-facing television cameras. She’s holding a cardboard sign with German inscriptions that translate “granny and granddad” meant for her beloved grandparents who are long-time fans of Tour de France watching from Paris. She is obviously carried away as she looks away from the peloton coming towards her. Her sign which was held too far into the road caused the collision with the German rider, Martin.
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The crash caused two riders to exit the Tour completely and eight other riders were treated for injuries of various degrees.
The race which was between Brest and Landerneau in northwest France was paused for 5 minutes to allow bikes and riders to be untangled and cleared from the road.
The crash caused such injuries that made many people eventually pull out of the race including Spain’s Marc Soler whose two arms broke.
Prosecutors launched an investigation and four days later, the woman turned herself into police custody.
The woman’s offense carried a possible one-year prison term and a €15,000 fine.
At her trial in October, Prosecutors accused her of putting lives in danger and causing unintentional injuries to people, requesting a four-month suspended prison sentence for the woman. No previous criminal record was found on her.
The AFP reported that prosecutor Solenn Briand acknowledged in court that the woman had shown remorse and recognized “how dangerous” her behavior had been.
Tour de France director, Christian Prudhomme later adopted a conciliatory stance in the matter.
“She did something daft, she’s no terrorist,” he told reporters in October. “We just want people to take care when they come to the Tour and remember they are there to see the champions and not to get on television.”
This is not the first time reckless spectators or vehicles have caused crashes at cycling tournaments which usually have excited fans line roads very close to the cyclists.
It can be recalled that during the 2016 Tour, terrible chaos was created by spectators who blocked a television motorcycle.
In the unfolding 2016 incident, Chris Froome with Team Sky crashed and his bike was run over by a television motorcycle causing outrage among fans and spectators. Froome had to run a stretch of the Tour de France because his lead was in jeopardy and his rivals were pedaling away to victory. He did the one thing available for him: He ran towards the finish line by heading up a mountain pass without his bike.
An appeal had to be made to protect Froome’s race lead.
How did it start?
The series of chaos that marked the event started when spectators crowded the road about one kilometer from the end of Stage 12’s the chaotic string of events began on Thursday when spectators swarmed over the road about one kilometer from the finish of Stage 12’s truncated climb up Mont Ventoux. They brought a television motorbike to stop suddenly at the same instance that Richie Porte, an Australian with the American BMC team, attacked Froome. It was reported by some people that the motorcycle hit a spectator who was obstructing the road.
Porte crashed into the transmission equipment on the back of the motorbike. Bauke Mollema, who was also with Porte and Froome, cartwheeled into the air. Froome landed on the ground on the other side of the motorcycle beyond the camera coverage with Mollema eventually crashing on him.
The situation grew worse as a large motorcycle crushed Froome’s bicycle as it ran over it. The mechanics who offered emergency help to cyclists had only spare wheels to offer.
This is the point at which Froome became ingenious. Not knowing his spare bike might arrive, he propped his mangled bike against a photographer’s motorcycle and started running.
Though he was later helped out by his team who supplied him with a spare bicycle, he lost the yellow jersey, on paper at least. But an appeal from Froome’s team to the race referees, who represent the International Cycling Union, the sport’s governing body, not the Tour organization saved the day. They agreed that the unusual circumstance necessitated a time adjustment for Froome.
Porte expressed his displeasure at the interference of spectators in the course of the sports.
“If you can’t control the crowds, what can you control?” Porte said. “It’s not really the motorbikes, it’s the crowd. They’re just in your face the whole time, pushing riders, and at the top there, that was just crazy.”