A ROW surrounding the sabotage of one of Hampshire’s biggest cycling events increased last night after claims that a rider fell and broke his collarbone after riding over drawing pins deliberately placed on the route.
Organisers of Cycling UK’s Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive swept the tacks off a stretch of road near Boldre on Saturday before 1,850 riders set off on the two-day ride.
Cycling UK initially said that the event – which was cancelled on its second day due to waterlogged ground – passed injury free, although many participants suffered punctures while tackling the swept stretch of road.
But comments posted on the Daily Echo’s website claimed that a man had fallen from his bike while using the same route to get to work earlier that day.
Mystery surrounds the injured man’s identity, but a reader posting under the name cyclejim wrote: “His wheel caught one of a number of tacks thrown onto that particular part of the road, which blew his tyre and caused him to fall and break his collarbone.
“I hope whoever did that is satisfied.
“Who has been causing the real danger on Forest roads this weekend?”
The comments stirred a debate on national cycling websites, but yesterday police and ambulance services said that the incident had not been reported to them.
UK Cycling director Martin Barden, whose teams also had to replace 1,000 direction and safety signs which had been torn down or defaced, said: “My thoughts go out to him – it’s obviously dreadful and this is not just fun and games it is putting people’s lives in danger.
“Normally locals welcome us and have been very supportive but we are talking about a very small minority of protesters and a handful of hardcore vigilantes causing mayhem.”
He added: “Their aim was to protect the Forest but chucking down tacks doesn’t just endanger cyclists and motorists, it hurts Forest animals too.”
Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson said that the police were trying to track down who had placed the tacks.
He said: “We support people’s rights to lawful, peaceful protest but for those that break the law we will take action.
“We are now following up on information to find those responsible for the criminal damage caused during the Sportive.”
South Central Ambulance spokesman James Keating-Wilkes said that the only injury crews dealt with was of a 50-year-old woman who fell off her bike at 12.20pm on Saturday and was taken to Poole Hospital with a suspected hip injury.