'Opi-Omi' Tour de France spectator faces four-month suspended sentence

Her lawyer described her as 'terrified' by the media storm that followed the incident

Opi Omi
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Tour de France spectator who held out the banner saying 'Allez Opi-Omi' faces a four-month suspended sentence for causing a mass crash on the opening stage of the 2021 French Grand Tour.

The 31-year-old woman appeared in court on Thursday October 14 to face charges of "involuntary injuries" as well as "endangering others" as reported by Ouest France.

The crash happened partway through the first stage of the Tour between Brest and Landerneau on June 26, where the woman, who is from the Bretagne region, stood out in the road holding a card sign with the now infamous message using a German term of endearment for grandparents.

The prosecution has called for a suspended four-month prison sentence, the maximum the woman could have faced being a €15,000 fine and 12 months in prison. The defendant's lawyer, Mr. Brametz, asked for a more symbolic sentence rather than a prison term or major fine. A verdict will be passed in December.

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The CPA professional cyclists' union is also suing the woman for a symbolic €1 to "raise awareness of the need to respect athletes in the performance of their profession".

The woman said in court that she was "ashamed", adding she is a "quiet person, everything that has happened is the opposite of me."

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the local police in Brittany posted on Facebook asking for witnesses to help them find the woman. But after four days she decided to turn herself in at the police station in Landerneau where she was taken into police custody.

The general manager of Jumbo-Visma, Richard Plugge, the team of the since-retired Tony Martin who was the first rider brought down in the crash, said of the court proceedings: "For the people asking; we didn’t know about this court case. We would have suggested asking the woman to be an ambassador for safety and tell the public what can happen if one is not respecting the riders and the race to help increase awareness among fans."

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Tony Martin said that one of the reasons he chose to retire was due to race safety getting worse. And with this incident as well as the horror crashes of Fabio Jakobsen at the 2020 Tour of Poland and the 2020 Il Lombardia, the debate continues about rider safety.

The sentence will be delivered on Wednesday, December 8, 2021.

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