Etape Caledonia – Race Sabotaged

Sunday May 17, 2009

The BBC News site reports on a sabotage attempt on the 81 mile Etape Caledonia road race around Pitlochry, Perthshire.

The charity race was hit by unknown protesters who spread tacks across a section of road resulting in numerous cyclists suffering from burst tyres.  It’s believed that the protest was due to the fact that the roads used during the race are closed to normal traffic.

People can be so short-sighted.  Not only does the race attract visitors (and therefore income) to the area but the race is also in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.  The protesters should have joined the fun and used the fact that they couldn’t use their cars to their benefit – get out and cycle!

Update, 17th May 2009 @2038
Found the following information:



  1. I competed in the above event. Riders started to puncture in large numbers from 45 miles onwards. At times there were groups of 6 riders at the side of the road all repairing punctures. This was then repeated every 100m for around 20 miles. I had 1 puncture caused by 2 tacks. They had a head diameter of around 2-3mm and a length of around 3mm. Perfectly designed to scupper a bicycle tyre but not effect car tyres. When the sun came out you could see the tacks glittering on the road. At one point there were so many I got off and carried my bike for a 100metres until the density reduced got back on my bike and hoped for luck. I have heard the some people punctured as many as 7 times. This act was planned and calculated and tghe quantity of tacks distributed was not a handful as a 20 km stretch was affected. There were 3500 competitors at this event and as it was necessary to register in person on the Saturday this required an overnight stay plus meals. It is clear that this event brings in a huge amount of revenue to the local economy, this is very important in a region where tourism is the main revenue raising potential for the local economy and population. It is important to understand that the event organisers arrange the planning so the roads are closed for up to 4 hours only. As a result of this sabotage action this was extended by a further one and a half hours. This was a sad occurrence on what was otherwise a superb event.

    • Dave, many thanks for sharing your side of the story – it’s important to hear things from the ‘horses mouth’.

      I couldn’t believe the story when I read it over on the BBC. I don’t know what these people were thinking – it’ll definitely cast a shadow over the local community. Unfortunate as no doubt it was probably only a handful of locals who attempted this sabotage: a handful who have ruined the race for the competitors and the majority of the locals.

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