Tour organizers drop legal action against careless fan

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CHATEAUROUX, France — Tour de France organizers said they have dropped their legal action against a spectator who caused a massive crash on the first stage.

Organizers made the decision in a bid to defuse the situation after the careless spectator was placed in custody, race spokesperson Fabrice Tiano said on Thursday.

Gendarmes in Brittany arrested her on Wednesday, four days after the accident brought down dozens of riders and forced German rider Jasha Sutterlin to abandon the race.

The spectator brandished a large cardboard sign while leaning into the path of oncoming riders. She appeared to be looking in the other direction, apparently at a camera, and not at the approaching peloton.

The woman, not publicly identified, was arrested in the Finistere region by gendarmes who tracked her down based on accounts from people questioned this week.

Despite the Tour’s decision, local prosecutors will decide whether or not to file charges.

Tour organizers announced after the crash on the stage from Brest to Landerneau that they would start legal proceedings against the fan, who disappeared from the crash scene. She leaned into the path of veteran rider Tony Martin, whose fall had a domino effect on the peloton.

The Gendarmerie in Landerneau, east of Brest, put out a call for witnesses shortly after the pileup.

Fans gathering on the sides of roads and in villages as riders pass by is part of the tradition and charm of the Tour. The woman’s sign read “Allez Opi-Omi,” a mix of French and German-language terms of endearment for grandparents – “Go Grandpa-Grandma.”

Brest prosecutor Camille Miansoni told a press conference on Thursday that the suspect was questioned alongside her partner, who had been with her during the stage. Miansoni said she wanted to send an “affectionate message” to her grandparents, adding that the suspect’s grandmother has German origins.

At the press conference, Col. Nicolas Duvinage urged everyone to calm down on social networks after several messages calling for violence were posted on the local gendarmerie Facebook page.

“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.

Giro d’Italia to start on former railway line in Abruzzo

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L’AQUILA, Italy — The 2023 edition of the Giro d’Italia will start with an individual time trial on a coastal cycle path that has been recreated from a former railway line in the region of Abruzzo.

At a ceremony in the Abruzzo capital of L’Aquila, race organizers announced that the Grand Tour will run from May 6-28 and begin with an 18.4-kilometer (11.4-mile) time trial on the Adriatic coast.

Almost the entire time trial will be on the spectacular Costa dei Trabocchi cycle path that hugs the coast line before a short climb to the finish in Ortona.

“I am excited at the idea of the Grande Partenza (Big Start) of the Giro in Abruzzo . It is a dream come true, especially with regard to the prologue on the Costa dei Trabocchi,” said Trek-Segafredo cyclist Dario Cataldo, who is from the region.

“I well remember that when the cycle path project was born and I saw the first tracks, I imagined the beauty of a Giro d’Italia passing along the route. It looked perfect.”

Stage 2 is a 204-kilometer (127-mile) leg from Teramo to San Salvo that is hilly in the first part but expected to end in a bunch sprint.

Stage 3 will also start in the Abruzzo region, in Vasto, but it will then head south and will be detailed when the full route is revealed on Oct. 17 in Milan.

The Giro will also return to the region for Stage 7, a daunting climb on the Gran Sasso d’Italia to Campo Imperatore. The high mountain stage, on May 12, will be the edition’s first finish above 2,000 meters.

Australian Jai Hindley won this year’s Giro.

Norway takes gold-medal lead at world road cycling titles

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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Soren Waerenskjold repeated Norway’s gold medal success at the world road cycling championships a day after Tobias Foss finished first in the elite men’s time trial.

Waerenskjold won the men’s under-23 time trial on the second day of the championships with a dominant performance. He clocked 34 minutes, 13.40 seconds over the 28.8-kilometer course to beat Belgian Alec Segaert by 16.34 seconds.

British rider Leo Hayter, the younger brother of elite rider Ethan Hayter, was 24.16 seconds off the pace for the bronze medal.

Foss beat a strong field to win the elite time trial, the biggest win of his career.

Norway has two gold medals, while Dutch ace Ellen van Dijk beat Australian Grace Brown to take out the women’ elite time trial.

The mixed relay time trial is set for Wednesday. The championships conclude on the weekend with the women’s road race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday.