A man has been arrested over the sabotage of the Etape Caledonia on Sunday, which saw thousands of carpet tacks scattered onto the route between Innerhadden and Schiehallion, 43 miles into the route. Hundreds of riders including the leaders suffered punctures, and some came off their bikes though thankfully there were no injuries.
Police reported today that a 62 year old man from the Rannoch area has been charged in connection with the incident. A report has been sent to the procurator fiscal and the man is expected to appear at Perth Sheriff Court tomorrow (Weds 20 May). Tayside Police are continuing their investigation.
Meanwhile IMG, the organisers of the race, remain in defiant mood and have released this statement:
Etape Caledonia: Organisers Defiant in the Face of Adversity
IMG, organisers of the Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia, are today defiant in the wake of a deliberate attempt by mindless vandals to endanger cyclists’ lives and wreak havoc with the event. Buoyed by an influx of messages from local residents, businesses, politicians and business organisations, IMG are determined to implement their plan to open entries immediately for the 2010 Etape Caledonia.
IMG have already taken steps to meet with Tayside Police and Perth & Kinross Council leaders to ensure that there will be no repeat of yesterday’s incident next year.
Jon Hazan, event director, said, “This is an important event for IMG and we are committed to ensuring it is a success, not only for our participants but for the local community.”
“We’ve been overwhelmed with messages from individuals and businesses who are, quite simply, appalled at what has happened on their doorstep, expressing their direct support for the event and encouraging us to return to the area in 2010. I can confirm that the actions of whoever is responsible will do nothing to deter us from returning to Highland Perthshire and strengthens our resolve to make the event a continuing success in 2010.”
Entries are now available for the 2010 Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia event at www.etapecaledonia.co.uk
The organisers were alerted to a major safety incident early on Sunday morning on a section of the closed road cycle challenge, requiring the event to be halted for 1 hour and 25 minutes. It was discovered that a large number of carpet tacks had been thrown along significant sections of the course and as a result of safety concerns the organisers, in co-ordination with the local police and council, implemented immediate safety contingencies. Once the organisers were satisfied with the safety of the course, the event was resumed.
Expressing his view on the unwelcome incident, Tayside Joint Police Board Convener Ian Mackintosh said today: ‘‘The actions that led to the disruption and considerable inconvenience during the event are nothing short of contemptible.”
He continued, ‘‘Whilst I am appalled that anyone would act in such an irresponsible fashion and run the real risk of injuring large numbers of people, I was greatly heartened by the outcry that followed and the widespread condemnation directed at this dreadful behaviour.”
‘‘The Etape Caledonia is a true highlight on the sporting calendar that attracts thousands of competitors, as well as their friends and family, to one of the UK’s most stunning landscapes. The event and the many people that it draws to Perthshire are warmly received by the overwhelming majority of the local community.”
He concluded, ‘‘I would ask anyone with information that could assist enquiries to come forward and having spoken with the Deputy Chief Constable today I am confident that Tayside Police will work swiftly to identify those responsible and hold them to account. Furthermore, I would hope when those responsible are put in front of the court that a very strong line is taken.’’
Charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support, who had over 1000 fundraisers riding in the event, also expressed their support for the future of the event. Eleanor Whitfield, challenge events co-ordinator from Macmillan commented “Thanks to the effort and determination of 3,500 cyclists, Sunday’s 81-mile Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia was a huge success raising a staggering £250,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.”
She continued, “Macmillan would like to say very big thank you to all the participants for their patience and camaraderie - despite the incident on the course, the mood remained positive throughout and disruption to both the enjoyment and fundraising was minimal. Team Macmillan are very much looking forward to Etape Caledonia 2010 when we hope to raise even more money for Macmillan to help provide vital support to people affected by cancer.” She continued.
With police investigations still in progress, Tayside Police continue to follow a positive line of enquiry into what they describe as “reckless and irresponsible actions”. They are appealing to anyone who has any information that could assist the investigation to call Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222, or speak to any officer.
Councilor John Kellas, Perth & Kinross Council's Convener of Enterprise & Infrastructure, piled further condemnation on the incident in support of the event.
He said, "The entire Enterprise & Infrastructure Committee deplore this irresponsible and, frankly, dangerous behaviour. It is fortunate that no-one was injured as a result. We are all disgusted by this reckless act. We fully support Tayside Police in their efforts to track down whoever is responsible and encourage anyone with information to contact the Police.”
"I am pleased however that yesterday's incident did not prevent thousands of people from enjoying the Etape Caledonia, the community events that complemented it and what Highland Perthshire has to offer. Furthermore, it will not deter us, or the organisers, from our wider shared purpose - to deliver massive benefits to the local economy."
Mike Beale, President of Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement on behalf of the many businesses in the area that have contacted them, also condemning the actions of the saboteurs. Mike commented:
“We have been contacted by many local businesses today expressing their dismay and anger that a single criminal act of such a mindless minority could take place in what is a most beautiful part of Scotland. I was fortunate to be at the event as a spectator and personally witnessed how mutually supportive the participants were of each other’s shared plight and their spirit in the face of adversity is much to be admired.”
“On behalf of the local business community I would urge the organisers not to be put off by the vandalism that this year’s event has experienced. They clearly have strong support from the local business community to continue growing an event that has a demonstrable and positive impact on Destination Perthshire.”
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, 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.