Spectator who caused horrific Tour de France pile-up to face court

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The spectator who caused a mass crash in the first stage of the Tour de France in July is to appear before a criminal court in Brittany on Thursday, charged with "endangering others" and "voluntary injuries”.

The 31-year-old woman, who caused dozens of riders to fall after she leant onto the road while brandishing a sign, faces a fine of up to €15,000 and a year in prison.

German rider Tony Martin was the first to hit the sign, which was addressed to the woman’s grandparents, leading to a shocking domino effect that swept through most of the peloton, leaving them in a tangled mess of bikes and bodies.

Some injured riders were forced to give up the race, while local authorities launched an urgent call for witnesses to track down the woman.

Four days after the incident, the woman turned herself into police. Releasing her from custody, authorities said she had felt "ashamed" and "frightened" by the accident.

Tour de France organisers initially intended to sue the woman, but later withdrew the complaint, with race director Christian Prudhomme saying the story had been “blown out of proportion”.

Instead the lawsuit comes from the Swiss-based Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA), the only riders’ association recognised by the International Cycling Union.

"It was a really irresponsible action. The riders had to suffer very serious consequences,” CPA boss Laura Mora said.

“We are not here to ask for money, but to ask for more respect and responsibility from the public."

The spectator will be prosecuted in a criminal court of Brest, in the department of Finistère, where she lives.

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