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RideLondon: tacks strewn on route and angry petition gains traction ahead of sportive's Essex debut

The sportive is returning with a new route out of the capital, and some Essex locals appear to be rather unhappy about it

Essex will this Sunday host upwards of 25,000 cyclists as RideLondon returns after a two-year gap due to the coronavirus crisis – but not all locals will be welcoming the riders with open arms, with tacks found on part of the route last week, and a petition launched protesting the event.

Moving to a late May slot instead of late July or early August and, the new three-day women’s race apart, taking place over one day rather than a full weekend, the past two editions have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Essex will host the major part of the sportive route, replacing Surrey which had hosted the Olympic legacy event since it was launched in 2013.

Last week, tacks were found strewn on a section of the route through Essex by Brother LDN rider Tim Allen, with a screenshot of his Instagram post sent to us by road.cc reader Andy, who noted: “It comes shortly after Harry and Charlie Tanfield were deliberately run off their bikes - also in Essex. Not a lot of love for people on two wheels in that county at the moment.”

Tacks on RideLondon route in Essex via Tim Allen on Instagram

Inevitably, a petition has also appeared online protesting across the road closures associated with the event, which will be held in Essex for the next five years, with claims similar to those we have seen in the past, such as when the event took place in Surrey, or with opposition to the former Velo Birmingham sportive in the West Midlands and surrounding counties.

Among the objections raised in the petition – so far signed by about 1,400 people – are that people including the elderly and infirm will be stranded in their houses, that local businesses will be impacted and the old, easily disproven objection that the emergency services will be delayed, although in reality many local residents enjoy such events passing where they live, getting outdoors and enjoying the event with its traffic-free streets as well as supporting riders.

> Velo Birmingham saboteurs fail to spoil day for riders and local residents

Some signing the petition, however, have compared the effect of the event on them to that of the lockdown imposed across the country in 2020 to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic – although as far as we are aware, no-one is going to get fined for popping outside to chat with neighbours, pop to the local shop for non-essential items or even host a party (or work event, for that matter).

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RideLondon, as you may know, is owned by the same company behind the London Marathon, which has run successfully on the same roads in south-east London, Docklands and the City of London and City of Westminster since 1981 – and perhaps due to that longevity, and the fact it’s an established part of the annual calendar accompanied by a party atmosphere, does not seem to get the press focus on road closures that cycling events attract.

Here is the timetable of this weekend’s events, as tweeted by London’s cycling and walking commissioner, Will Norman.

Meanwhile, the opening stage of the new three-day UCI Women’s WorldTour race, the RideLondon Classique, took place today, starting and finishing in Maldon and covering 136.5km and won by Lorena Wiebes of Team DSM.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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