A 62-year-old councillor has been arrested over the sabotage of the Etape Caledonia in Scotland last weekend.
The man is reported as being Alex Grosset, the chairman of the Rannoch and Tummel Community Council. He has been called to appear in court on Wednesday.
3,500 riders took part in this year’s 81-mile Etape Caledonia, which is the UK‘s only mass participation cycling event held on closed roads. Unfortunately for many, their ride was delayed by nearly one and a half hours after carpet tacks were scattered on “significant sections of the course”, causing mass punctures and crashes. The tacks were cleared and the event continued, although many riders’ times were meaningless.
The sabotage was widely condemned by the local population and officials, who have been largely supportive of the event and the economic benefit it brings to the area and to the Macmillan Cancer Support charity.
Tayside Joint Police Board Convener Ian Mackintosh called the incident “contemptible”.
He said: “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.”
“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.”
Not all local residents have been supportive of the Etape, however. A group called Anti Closed Road Events (ACRE) has objected to the full road closure, claiming among other things that it prevents them from leaving their homes at all, including to go to church.
A spokesman for ACRE, Peter Hounam, denied the group had any involvement in the carpet tack sabotage.
Etape Caledonia organisers IMG said that they plan to hold the event in 2010, and are already taking entries. They said they will work with the police and Perth & Kinross Council to ensure that there will be no repeat of the incident that marred this year’s event.