Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 15:42 UK

Plea for calm in cycle race anger

Halted cyclist
Hundreds of cyclists suffered punctures. Pic: Allen Glen

A call has been made for a halt to the bitterness between cyclists and local protesters over the Etape Caledonia.

Hundreds of cyclists suffered punctures after carpet tacks were placed across the route of the Highland Perthshire bike race earlier this month.

Following the incident, some of those who voiced their anger at the staging of the event because of road closures have received abusive e-mails.

A local community council chairman has been charged with scattering the tacks.

The Etape Caledonia is the only cycle race in the UK where all the roads are closed to other traffic during the event, which angered some local people because of the disruption it caused.

The 81-mile ride around Pitlochry had to be halted for about an hour-an-a-half after tacks were discovered on parts of the route.

The incident has received much publicity on message boards and forums, where the home and e-mail addresses of some of those against the race have been posted.

It's just going to make the cyclists seem just as bad as the person who put the tacks on the road
Cllr Ken Lyall

One person targeted told the BBC Scotland news website that he had received abuse and threats and had to contact the police

Highland Perthshire Councillor Ken Lyall said the animosity between the two sides was a concern.

He said: "It's very much the minority of the cyclists but some of them have been quite vicious in their e-mails, which you can understand in a way, but it's not appropriate for them to do that.

"There's not much point sending e-mails because it's just going to make the cyclists seem just as bad as the person who put the tacks on the road and that's the last thing we want.

"We do know there's been an unprecedented amount of applications for next year's event already and we don't want to jeopardise that and we don't want the message to go out that cyclists are intolerant.

"It's bad enough that we've got folk who object to the closed roads taking unreasonable action with regards to the tacks, but it's not helpful for a tit-for-tat retaliation. I think we need a period of calm and I think it's for everyone just to take a step back."

Community councillor and church elder Alex Grosset, 62, has been charged with culpably and recklessly placing carpet tacks on the road.

He made no plea or declaration when he appeared in court last week and the case was continued.



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