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Etape Caledonia opponents not going down without a fight

Controversial charity ride arguments rumble on

A protest group called the Anti-Closed Road Events (Acre) group has written to the head of Tayside Police in anticipation of next week's Etape Caledonia sportive ride raising issues including riders 'stopping to urinate on the side of the road'.

According to Scotland's The Press & Journal Acre spokesman Peter Hounam, of Grandtully, Perthshire, where the event takes place, wrote to Chief Constable Justine Curran as part of the public consultation on road closures for the ride on Sunday 16th May.

Mr Hounam wrote: “Acre’s stance has been assiduously within the law and it has encouraged only legal means of protest.

“As such it has attracted considerable support from the locally affected communities and, in turn, has suffered abuse and threats from some supporters of the event.

“Our organisation believes that even though this event is now in its fourth year the issue of road closures is still a live one. In fact, the divisions and resentments continue and grow.”

The protest group spokesman detailed eight points of contention regarding the race, including the collection of litter left by participants and spectators along the route and issues surrounding cyclists stopping to urinate on the side of the road.

Acre has also highlighted alleged unsafe riding practices, as well as alleged offensive conduct of some cyclists and race marshals towards residents in the Kinloch Rannoch area.

Despite the widely reported incident last year, when local solicitor Alexander Grosset was accused of scattering carpet tacks along an extended section of the course causing hundreds of punctures, this forthcoming event already has 4,500 riders signed up and hoping to help raise £430,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

According to Jon Hazan, Event Director for IMG the organisers, “Over the last three years we have become familiar with Acre’s position on closed roads and other aspects of the event.

“We realise there remains a handful of local protesters who continue to raise objections.

“Safety is our primary concern, for the cyclists and residents. It would be highly dangerous to run this event on open roads and we will not compromise our stance on safety.

“We appreciate that road closures do cause some disruption to the local community. As a result we work throughout the year to ensure disruption of activities is kept to a minimum on the day.”

A police spokesman told the Press & Journal, "We received a letter from Acre and this has been forwarded to the inspector responsible for policing the area. He will be in contact with the group with a view to discussing matters further.”

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