ATTEMPTS to sabotage a successful mass cycling event in the New Forest have been labelled “absolutely reprehensible”.
The 2014 Wiggle New Forest event over the weekend saw 2,000 cyclists take to the roads for the popular sportive.
But, despite being hailed a success by organisers and the majority of cyclists taking part, it was marred after 20 cyclists got punctures when tacks were laid in Braggers Lane in Bransgore on Saturday.
New Forest East MP Julian Lewis has called the act “absolutely reprehensible”. He said top level talks were going on with government ministers and national park chiefs to resolve tensions between residents and cyclists.
Dr Lewis said: “It does not help anyone when people, however frustrated they feel, do something that could lead to a nasty accident or at the very least a nasty confrontation.
“I'm hoping that the cause of the provocation will sooner rather than later be sorted out but taking the law into one's own hands is not the way forward.
“Doing something illegal and dangerous is never the right thing to do.”
Martin Barden, director of UK Cycling Events who organised Wiggle, criticised the dangerous act of vandalism.
He said: “There were a handful of locals who tried to disrupt the event, and marshals had to clear that up.
“We are surprised and saddened to see it happen again after last year.
“But it had no affect on the event or the enjoyment of the riders taking part.”
Last year the event saw more than 1,000 signs vandalised, drawing pins scattered on the road and motorists driving slowly to form a rolling roadblock.
Cyclists returning to Matchams after Sunday’s ride reported no problems on the route, despite many witnessing the trouble last year.
Tim Cook, 46, said: “This year there were a lot more marshals around. It was a completely clear ride and I didn’t see any problems.
Dave Bishop, 42 from Barton-on-Sea said: “It was a great fairly flat fast course.
“It was well-signposted and well organised. I think they do a really good job.”
Keith Watson, 48, added: “Last year I ended up going the wrong way because signs had been changed.
“We also saw people throwing tacks out and there was a group of lads in a Landrover being idiots.
“However, this year was great.
Mr Watson added: “There was nothing that I saw which was untoward.”