Cancer charity cyclists flat over tack attack in Etape Caledonia

May 18th, 2009 - 2:31 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

More than 500 cyclists in the UKs most popular long-distance amateur cycling event, the Étape Caledonia, received punctures today after protesters spread thousands of carpet tacks over sections of the course.

The third annual 81-mile (130.35km) charity ride around the Pitlochry Highlands in Perthsire, central Scotland, raises funds for the Macmillan cancer charity and attracted 3,700 cyclists this year.

However a group of local residents object to the race - the only event in Britain in which the entire route is closed to traffic – and formed a protest group to try and have the race stopped..

In a website posting before the event, the Against Closed Road Events (Acre) group said it was not organizing any formal protest, but offered legal advice to those who wished to obstruct the road or take similar action.

Tayside police are investigating what they termed a “reckless and irresponsible” stunt, which saw the race stopped for about 90 minutes. Police said they were following “a positive line of inquiry” but declined to say if this was connected to Acre.

Named after the French word for stage, Étape events are based on the Étape du Tour, which sees thousands of amateur riders follow the route of a Tour de France stage, and are generally long and hilly with the Pertshire event seeing cyclists climb a combined distance of almost 2,000 meters (over 6,500-feet).

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