One of the men alleged to have held up and attacked riders taking part in the Tour o’ the Borders sportive has claimed that he was attempting to stage a peaceful protest but was grabbed by a “bearded hooligan”. He also suggested that the men he was with were shoulder-charged by other cyclists.
A number of riders reported men with sticks blocking the Tour o’ the Borders route at around the 26km mark last Sunday. Several said that the men had swung at cyclists.
Deadline News reports that 60-year-old John Marshall has admitted to being the “ring leader” of the group of farmers.
“Four of us organised it. I don’t want to name the other three but I was the ringleader. We waited until the police bike and tour car had gone round.
“We blocked off the road and had draining rods in our hands but they were basically touching the ground so we weren’t appearing violent. It was meant to be a peaceful demonstration so they would stop and we could have dialogue.”
He said: “We tried to shout at them that we were pedestrians and one of them shouted ‘morning’ thinking we were there to support.
“I started to say we were pedestrians again but they started to push through. Two of us got shoulder-barged and I got grabbed so I shouted back at the guy who I could only describe as a bearded hooligan.
“From what I saw nobody touched the ground, nobody was pushed except for ourselves. For them to say what they have – I hope they can back it up.”
Marshall believes that motorists are “held up every day of the year” by cyclists and sees the road closures for the sportive as an added insult.
“We’ve been getting more and more abuse from them when we’re just trying to go about our daily lives, and for the cyclists to suddenly shut off the road is a bit of an indignity as they get the police to monitor the event and it’s basically a waste of police time.”
He says the police investigation into the confrontation is also a waste of time for “what is basically a storm in a teacup.”
Nevertheless, he remains unhappy with the event’s impact.
“I had to have words with the organisers last year because they’d taken up the whole junction – you should still be able to get two articulated lorries round it side by side so to shut off the whole junction last year was regrettable.”
He also questioned the nature of the sportive.
“The other thing is that they were racing – it’s supposed to be a ‘tour’ and it even says on the pamphlet ‘this is not a race’. If they were just touring they would’ve been able to stop and have dialogue.”