Police in Spain revealed how officers uncovered a plot to protest during the Vuelta a España by pouring "400 litres of liquid" onto the route of yesterday's stage as the peloton passed.
Media outlets in Spain have reported that four men were arrested on Saturday when suspected of planning a pro-independence protest during Monday's stage through the region, but have now been granted provisional release from custody.
Spain's national police force, Policía Nacional, has this morning tweeted a video of officers finding a "mechanism" hidden on a bridge above a road used by the race. Two drums with 400 litres of liquid — that the police said was similar to motor oil — were found attached to a pipe that would pour the liquid "on the road as the peloton passed".
The police also confirmed to Reuters that the protesters are members of a group known as CDR that is seeking the independence of Catalunya.
Con este mecanismo pretendían sabotear la etapa de ayer de #LaVuelta23
👉🏻Dos bidones con 400 litros de líquido que pretendían arrojar en la calzada al paso del pelotón
— Policía Nacional (@policia) August 29, 2023
The post read: "With this mechanism they intended to sabotage yesterday's stage of La Vuelta. Two drums with 400 litres of liquid that they intended to throw on the road as the peloton passed. Four people arrested red-handed in Lleida."
The latest update about the suspects being released, reported by The Olive Press, comes after a spokesperson for Alerta Solidària, an organisation which supports pro-independence activism, had claimed that its lawyers were prevented from being with the men while their statements were taken.
However, according to this morning's reports, the men have now been released from custody by a judge in Lleida, who imposed a restraining order preventing them from being within 500m of the race, which returns to Catalunya from Andorra on today's fourth stage, expected to be a sprint finish in Tarragona.
The Catalan High Court stated they are facing charges of public disorder, environmental crimes, road safety offences and belonging to a criminal organisation.
Protest action had been expected during the Vuelta's visit, the Òmnium Cultural group which describes itself as the "civil society entity that works every day for the language, the culture, and the country" in Catalunya, posted on social media last week, calling for followers to "take advantage of this event with international resonance".
There was however, no suggestion that the "action" Òmnium Cultural suggested would be anything more than peaceful roadside protest, although risk management platform Crisis 24 warned that the activist group had called for protest action, which "may include attempts to halt the race".
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.