HUNDREDS of lives were put at risk after yet another attempt to sabotage a mass cycling event in Hampshire.
Nails were laid along the road in a New Forest village over the weekend as more than 2,000 cyclists took part in the first Wiggle Sportive event of the year.
It's not the first time event opponents have tried to ruin the mass ride.
This time last year the event was disrupted when drawing pins were scattered across the road and motorists drove slowly forming a roadblock to slow down competitors.
There were further problems during another Wiggle event last October when, in the dead of night, signage was pulled down and mud was sprayed across the road.
Police confirmed they were aware of the latest incident which happened on Saturday morning in the village of Bransgore - and said that more than 20 cyclists suffered punctures.
It happened just 24 hours after the Daily Echo reported how posters had been erected by opponents warning residents to raise the alarm if any entrants caused trouble.
They listed 15 villages and towns which would form part of the route.
A Hampshire MP today slammed the dangerous act as “absolutely reprehensible” and said he would be raising the matter in London.
New Forest East MP Julian Lewis 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.”
He added: “This whole issue is absolutely being focused on by local elected representatives' right up to Government ministers. I would appeal to the community to disassociate themselves from these actions.”
Martin Barden, director of UK Cycling Events who organised the Wiggle Spring Sportive, criticised the vandalism.
He said: “There were a handful of locals who tried to disrupt the event, and marshals had to clear that up. It is something nobody wants to see but we do not have much control of that.
“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.”
He added that as a whole the event was a big success and it saw more than 2,000 cyclists take to the road and ride 84 miles around the New Forest - raising £3,000 for Oakhaven Hospice. He hopes the event will be back in October this year.
Among the competitors in the weekend event was 'critic' Dr Tony Hockley, chairman of the New Forest Equestrian Association, who said he wanted to see for himself how cyclists affect the animals.
He described seeing one concerning incident where a herd of cattle were 'spooked', but praised the event on whole.
He said: “There are a few cyclists who had that 'hell for leather' mentality - but that was a minority.”
“I did see some cyclists overtake on blind bends and narrow lanes, one even overtook me on a right hand turn on the wrong side of the road.
Most of the riders rode in single file, and nearly all of them behaved very well.”