Greater communication with locals promised before 2010 Etape Caledonia
2009 race tack-droppers were 'selfish and callous'...

The organisers of this year's Etape Caledonia have promised a 'higher level' of communication with local people following the 'carpet tacks' incident which marred 2009's event.

Event organiser Jon Hazan was speaking exclusively to road.cc following the dropping of charges against Alexander Grosset, 62, who was arrested and charged in connection with the scattering of thousands of tacks along the Perthshire route.

Mr Hazan, of organisers IMG, said he'd spoken to the police since the charges against Mr Grosset were dropped. "Having spoken to the Police I now have a clearer understanding of the case," he said. "Whilst the details are a police matter we regard the act against the safety of those competing last year as callous and selfish. Our primary concern remains the safety of those taking part in the event and the continued communication with the local communities."

Several hundred cyclists had their tyres punctured by the tacks in the race, the only one of its kind in the UK where all the roads are closed to other traffic during the event.

At the time, it was thought that anger around the road closure, which some locals say severely disrupts their movements, had led to an act of sabotage.

The 81-mile ride around Pitlochry on May 17, which attracted around 3,500 competitors, had to be halted for about an hour-an-a-half after the tacks were discovered.

Mr Hazan said this year's event, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, was proving very popular in terms of entries.

"In addition to our existing resident communications (mailouts, local community meetings) we will be ensuring a higher level of feedback and information to residents and businesses affected along the route," he added.

"Alongside our local community group we aim to ensure that people are well informed of the route, road closure timings and alternative routes (posting of maps and information at regular intervals during the planning process) as well giving people plenty of opportunity to inform us of any requests regarding access during the road closures."

Own-place entry in this year's race, on May 16, is now closed but anyone still wanting to take part can do so if they pledge to raise more than £150 for Macmillan Cancer Support. For more details see the website.