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Tack saboteurs end UCI Gran Fondo qualification hopes

Tacks and nails were reportedly strewn on the road during the Gran Fondo qualifier in Perth, Western Australia yesterday

Tacks and nails thrown on the road at a UCI Gran Fondo event in Australia yesterday ended qualification hopes for some riders who were forced to abandon the race due to punctures.

The event, in Perth, was a qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Series, to be held in Perth in September, and part of a tourism campaign branded 'Experience Extraordinary Western Australia'. Two events, on Friday and Sunday, closed major roads to motor traffic, but there were complaints about traffic disruption, and that not enough information was provided to residents.

More than 1,000 riders attended the event. Although some had to abandon the race with punctures, with reported crashes,  according to St John Ambulance no cyclists were hospitalised.

"Tens of thousands" of tacks left on popular Melbourne cycle route

Sydney rider Craig Hobart, who had qualified already but competed to familiarise himself with the course, told WA Today: "A whole lot of people went down - I was weaving my way through the carnage."

"From conversations people were having at the end of the course, there was some indication on social media that people were going to put tacks on the roads. 

"People like me are brothers, fathers and husbands. I drive a car every day as well and we all just want to get home to our loved ones as much as any other person." 

Local radio stations fielded calls from people who were angry they had been delayed,  missed flights and weddings. Local papers carried information about the event in advance but some say there was a lack of signs on freeway entries advising of delays.

Campaigners are concerned about anti-cycling sentiment across Australia, the country with arguably the most draconian cycling laws in the world.  Campaign group Safe Cycling Australia dubbed the event "the Gran Fondo from Hell".

One woman, reportedly the wife of one of the riders, told 6PR radio: “These guys have trained for well over a year. This is a qualifier for the major final. And it’s not every day you get the opportunity to have such an event in a place like Perth.

“I must admit there were lots of overseas riders but these people have brought money into WA [Western Australia]. The thing I get most annoyed about is we have many friends that could not qualify yesterday because people were throwing tacks on the road and nails and there were major accidents yesterday.”

“I think it’s the most disgusting thing ever. We know people that should have qualified in top places that did not finish the race because of the fact that there were idiots out there that were ruining everything.”

The event comprised a 19km Time Trial, 1.4km Team Relay and a 143km Road Race.

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