DESPITE two attempts to sabotage Sunday’s Macmillan Cancer Support Etape Caledonia event, organisers IMG Challenger World have pledged their commitment to the Highland Perthshire area by opening expressions of interest for their 2012 event today.
The event, which attracted almost 5,000 cyclists and their families to the Highland Perthshire area this weekend, was put in jeopardy by two separate acts of sabotage that were successfully averted by organisers whose robust and thorough contingency plans were kicked into action following an alert to drawing pins found on the route on Saturday 14th May at around 12.30pm.
A second major safety incident was alerted to organisers in the very early hours of Sunday morning on the same section of the closed road cycle challenge, between Strathtay and Weem.
Organisers, in a co-ordinated effort with local police and council, implemented immediate safety contingencies which enabled the event to start on time and proceed according to plan.
Today, buoyed by an influx of messages from participants, politicians and local businesses, IMG Challenger World have demonstrated their commitment to the area by opening expressions of interest for their 2012 event set to take place on 13th May, which will give those who ‘register their interest’ a 24-hour window to secure their place when the event does officially open for entry.
Amy Whiteley, event director, said, “Etape Caledonia is a very important event for IMG Challenger World and we are committed to ensuring it continues to be a success, not only for our participants, but for the local area.
“Our Facebook page has swelled in fan numbers overnight with literally hundreds of posts from participants and local people congratulating us on the success of this year’s event.
“We owe it to all of those who have supported the development of this successful event to confirm our commitment to it and to affirm that on Sunday 13th May 2012, we’ll be back.”
A spokesperson for Perth & Kinross Council added: “Perth and Kinross Council are delighted that the Etape Caledonia has once again been a spectacular success.
“The event brings huge economic benefit to the area every year and showcases Perthshire as a top cycling and visitor destination.
“The feedback from the local community regarding the Etape Caledonia continues to be very positive and this plays an important part in our ongoing backing of the event, to that end we very much look forward to working with IMG to ensure that the Etape Caledonia continues to be a hugely positive annual event in Perthshire’s calendar.”
Expressions of concern have also been flowing in on the event’s Facebook page from participants who witnessed a crash between two cyclists on the route at the bottom of the Schiehallion descent, which resulted into one participant being airlifted to Ninewell’s Hospital suffering from a suspected punctured lung, broken ribs and possible spine and head injuries. The second participant was treated for minor injuries at the scene and accompanied his friend to hospital.
The condition of the injured participant has been stable overnight and he has undergone further surgery today.
With police investigations underway on both incidents, Tayside Police are appealing to anyone who has any information on either incident that could assist the investigation to call them on 0300 111 2222, or speak to any officer.
Expressions of interest are now open for the 2012 Etape Caledonia event at www.etapecaledonia.co.uk
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