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Etape Caledonia sabotaged by disgruntled locals

3,500 riders forced to wait as tacks are strewn on the roads

The Etape Caledonia, the UK's only closed-roads sportive, was delayed yesterday after protesters scattered thousands of carpet tacks onto the route. A statement from the organisers on the event's website stated:

"Firstly, well done to those of you who competed this Sunday. Your spirit and patience was outstanding. We wanted to let you know the facts that we have available at this stage.

"It is believed that local protestors scattered a large number of carpet tacks along significant sections of the course.  The safety issue was highlighted by the lead group of cyclists experiencing punctures at a specific section at Innerhadden and Schiehallion, 43 miles into the route.  Subsequently hundreds of additional cyclists also received punctures as they approached the area.

"As a result of safety concerns, primarily that cyclists could receive punctures in fast sections of the course and subsequently fall from their bikes at high speeds, IMG, in co-ordination with the local police and council implemented immediate safety contingencies [according to at least one witness some cyclists did come off their bikes as a result of puncturing].
"These contingencies included holding competitors mid course, resulting in a delay to the participants taking part in the event, while the roads were made as safe as possible.  Once we were satisfied with the safety of the course the event was resumed. 

"We are treating this matter very seriously and are working with the local police and local council to investigate matters further.

We are now going through the results to make as much sense as possible of the delays. These will be sent out as soon as possible. We will be sending more information to all competitors on Monday 18th May."

A spokesman for Tayside Police later told the BBC: "It was fortunate no-one was injured as a result of this irresponsible behaviour. Uniformed and detective officers are carrying out inquiries in the area and are following a positive line of inquiry."

Local feelings about the event are invariably mixed, and it doesn't take a great deal of detective work to find blog entries such as the one at which accuses the local council of being cosy with the organisers, bullying local businesses and "obfuscating and denying the genuine feeling of public anger being expressed". Another article at claims that a survey they conducted after last year's event found that 50% of locals said the event should definitely not be repeated; 17% said probably not - and only 24% were supportive.

Some of those who dislike the three hour event claim it restricts their freedom of movement, and that visitors may be put off coming to the area, affecting tourism and business, and locals could be prevented from getting to church. Local supporters point out that it attracts 3500 people to the area many of whom will stay at least one night beforehand spending money in local shops, businesses and hotels

The Etape Caledonia raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support and the charity estimated that the event would raise £225,000 this year to help fund its work

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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mooseman | 15 years ago

Yeah, shame that all the good work of the organisers, helpers, marshalls, fund raisers etc will be masked by the tack story.

Personally I got 3 punctures, lucky I looked at my saddle pack thurs pm and thought 'I could get one more tube in there' - 3 tubes, 3 punctures (well maybe 31/2, front tyre is soft today).

Many thanks to Mark from Stirling on the Parlee who helped with the chase onto a fast group after we flatted together - 'pooter says 3;52 ride time - I'll be back next year  3

DaSy | 15 years ago

You can only hope that the fools that did this get punctures in their car tyres, as I'm sure there'll be tacks turning up on the roads there for years to come!

My mate said it was a pain, he got stopped at the top of a cold mountain for about an 1 1/2 hours, so was frozen and fed up by the time he got moving again.

VecchioJo | 15 years ago

as has been pointed out elsewhere, the irony is that this 'action' closed the roads for longer and caused further disruption for locals and visitors alike

dave atkinson | 15 years ago

Here in Bath we have a big half marathon in town which closes some roads for half a day. one of the upshots is that you can't drive to Sainsbury's for about six hours a year. you would not believe the bleating about it, it's the same every year. Cut to southern France and the Ardechoise which is one of my favourite mass participation rides. They effectively shut a whole county for the day and everyone has a party. and presumably they just go to Carrefour the next day  1

purplecup | 15 years ago

Some people. honestly. I'm sure it 'affects tourism', three and a half thousand people coming for a weekend. what a nightmare that must be for the tourist trade.

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