Despite attempts by saboteurs to derail the Etape Caledonia for a second time, organisers IMG Challenger World have shown their commitment to the event by opening expressions of interest for 2012.
Those who register will be given a 24-hour window to secure their place before entries officially open, with IMG insisting they won't allow the event’s huge popularity to be spoiled by a minority.
Sunday’s fifth annual event was marred by a repeat of the incident that affected the 2009 edition, with tacks and pins found strewn across a section of the course. An earlier discovery on Saturday of a small number of pins had put organisers on high alert and their increased vigilance led to the second discovery.
In contrast to the event two years ago, the tacks were cleared in time and no riders were affected during the event. Over 5,000 people took part, and both IMG and Perth & Kinross Council, who back the event, proclaimed it a spectacular success.
Amy Whiteley, event director, said: “Etape Caledonia is a very important event for IMG Challenger World and we're committed to ensuring it continues to be a success, not only for our participants, but for the local area.
“Our Facebook page has swelled in fan numbers overnight, with literally hundreds of posts from participants and local people congratulating us on the success of this year’s event. We owe it to all of those who've 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.”
Perth & Kinross Council also remain enthusiastic about the event's future. “The feedback from the local community regarding the Etape Caledonia continues to be very positive and this plays an important part in our ongoing backing of the event,” said a spokesman. “To that end we very much look forward to working with IMG to ensure that the Etape Caledonia continues to be a hugely positive annual event in Perthshire’s calendar.”
Etape Hibernia, the sister event to the Etape Caledonia held in Ireland, has never suffered the kind of sabotage seen in Scotland. An IMG spokesperson said this is because opposition to the Scottish event, such as efforts by ACRE (Anti Closed Road Events) to stop it, are unique to the area.
“The sabotage attempt, and the fact it was cleared up before the riders started, proved our contingency planning was spot on, and is testimonial to our safety procedures," they added. To register your interest for the 2012 event, visit www.etapecaledonia.co.uk.