Police in Scotland have appointed a dedicated police officer to address the concerns of local residents ahead of the Etape Caledonia, Britain’s biggest closed road cycling event, as organisers seek to avoid a repeat of the sabotage that wreaked havoc on the race last year.
Carpet tacks thrown along a five-mile stretch of the 81-mile route around Pitlochry in Perthshire caused hundreds of cyclists to suffer punctures and meant that the event was held up for 9 minutes, with a police escort provided once it got going again.
The disruption was blamed on locals objecting to road closures, with the Crown Prosecution Service eventually dropping charges against the chief suspect, 62-year-old Alexander Grosset, a vocal opponent of the race.
This year’s race, which takes place on May 16 with 4,500 cyclists riding, sold out in record time and Tayside Police have revealed that as part of increased security measures surrounding the event, it had appointed a dedicated community liaison officer who will hold a series of meetings with local residents ahead of the race.
According to The Scotsman, Sergeant Dave Patton will be meeting with locals at surgeries to be held in Aberfeldy, Pitlochry and Kinloch Rannoch later this month to discuss their concerns.
The newspaper quoted a spokeswoman for Tayside Police as saying: "In order to provide assistance to local residents prior to and during the event, Tayside Police has appointed a dedicated community liaison officer. Over the next few weeks, Sgt Patton, who is based at Pitlochry Police Station, will be attending a number of community meetings and groups to discuss the forthcoming road closures and diversions, and to address any issues local residents might have."
Sgt Patton added: "We want everyone to enjoy themselves – local residents, those taking part, and spectators. From a policing perspective our priority is the safety and security of everyone involved."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.