Race will be back despite 'reckless saboteurs'

THE organisers of the largest closed-road cycling event in Britain yesterday vowed to stage the massive race again next year - despite two attempts to sabotage the charity ride.

Tayside Police were yesterday continuing their investigations into the bid to disrupt the Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia cycling event in Highland Perthshire by spreading tacks, drawing pins, metal screws and staples across a section of the 81-mile route.

The attempted sabotage - condemned by the force as "reckless and completely irresponsible" - followed a similar attempt to wreck the race in 2009.

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Amy Whiteley, the event's director, said yesterday the 5,000 cyclists and their families had been put in jeopardy by an "act of mindless sabotage".

But she revealed the organisers, IMG Challenger World, had opened expressions of interest for their 2012 race, after being buoyed by messages of support from participants, politicians and local businesses.

She said: "We owe it to all of those who have supported the development of this successful event to confirm our commitment to it and to affirm that on Sunday 13 May, 2012, we'll be back."

An organiser spokeswoman said: "Expressions of concern have also been flowing in from participants who witnessed a crash between two cyclists at the bottom of the Schiehallion descent, which resulted in one participant being airlifted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, suffering from a suspected punctured lung, broken ribs and possible spine and head injuries. The second participant was treated for minor injuries.

"The injured participant has undergone further surgery."

The Etape Caledonia is the only race in the UK where all the roads are closed to other traffic.