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Police appeal for witnesses as new attempt made to sabotage Etape Caledonia

Echoes of 2009 with tacks and drawing pins spread on course but no repeat of disruption

An attempt was today made to sabotage the Etape Caledonia, held this morning in Highland Perthshire, for the second time in three editions, with screws, tacks and drawing pins strewn along a five-mile section of the course, in what police say was a “reckless and completely irresponsible” effort to cause disruption to the event.

As it turned out, the event continued and no disruption was caused , unlike in 2009 when many riders fell prey to punctures with some falling off their bikes. A local church elder and vociferous opponent of the Etape was later accused of attempting to sabotage the ride, although charges were later dropped.

Tayside Police are now appealing for help in tracking down whoever it is who was trying to disrupt Britain’s what has been since it's creation the UK's only sportive ride held on fully closed roads, the recently announced Etape Cymru will follow in its tyre track this October. The road closure appears to be the main point of contention among those locals opposed to the event.

A police spokesperson, quoted on STV, said: “Tayside Police are appealing for witnesses following attempts to disrupt the Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia cycling event taking place today in Highland Perthshire.

“A number of tacks, drawing pins, metal screws and staples were spread across the road at the event between Weem and Strathtay. This is thought to have occurred sometime between Friday 13 and Sunday 15 May, 2011.

“The items were discovered prior to the start of the cycling event; one cyclist who was not connected to the event suffered a puncture.

“The event itself was not disrupted in any way and is ongoing.

“This attempt to disrupt the event was reckless and completely irresponsible and it is fortunate that no injuries were caused. Tayside Police will work closely with the organisers and the local community to find those responsible and to ensure the safety and security of all persons in the area.”

Meanwhile, track legend Graeme Obree played bridesmaid at this morning’s start in Pitlochry, holding the bride’s bouquet as two of the 5,000 entrants got married on the start line before going on to complete the ride together.

The happy couple, Rick Millin and Jo Louden, were given race numbers 1 and 2 by organisers, with the bride saying: "I was in my full cycling gear on the start line - but I did have a veil on and a bouquet which Graeme Obree held for me.

"We got together because of cycling and got engaged coming here last year so it was fitting – it has been lovely.”

Sadly an event featuring a field of over 5000 riders is unlikely to pass off without incident of any kind, and later yesterday it was announced that two riders taking part were airlifted to hospital after an incident on the Tummel Bridge, near Schiehallion on the B846. Both were from Essex and one, according to a report on the the BBC had suffered what was described as "a serious internal injury".

Full results of the 2011 Etape Caledonia are available now on the event website.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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