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18 Riders Banned by UK Cycling Events for Rule Infringements at New Forest Sportive

by Nick Gregory

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UK Cycling Events, organisers of the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive and numerous other events around the country, have banned 18 riders for infringements of event rules, including urinating in public. 

The Daily Echo reports the decision was made public at a meeting of the New Forest Association of Local Councils, and represents the latest twist in the ongoing saga that mass participation cycling in the New Forest has become. 

Over the past two years rising tensions between the anti-cycling lobby - led by Tony Hockley, Chairman of the New Forest Equestrian Association - and cycling event organisers have spilled over into ugly scenes of sabotage at numerous events in the National Park.

The event from which these latest bans stem - the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive earlier this month - was one such example of a sportive targeted by sabateours, as it had been in 2013, with 15 riders puncturing after tacks were deliberately spread on the road. On other occasions, event signs have been removed or tampered with. 

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Local MP, Julian Lewis spoke out against the attacks: "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 be sorted out sooner rather than later, but taking the law into one's own hands is not the way forward." 

Trouble had been expected however, after the anti-cycling lobby distributed warning posters around the local area in the build-up to the event. This was despite attempts made by UKCE to appease a minority of disgruntled locals by moving the event HQ to a new location. 

Those amongst the 18 who were banned for urinating in public were caught doing so outside the Forest Park Hotel, Brockenhurst. Martin Barden of UK Cycling Events said: "A small number of riders out of the 2,000 participants per day taking part in the New Forest Spring Sportive were banned from the event. Even though toilets were provided, and our marshals requested they were used, a handful of participants choose not to use them leaving us no option but to disqualify them from the event." 

He continued, "We believe this was an appropriate measure when you balance the location of the incidence was outside a hotel and the individuals involved were requested to use the facilities provided by our marshals but these requests were ignored." 

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The remaining riders were banned for inconsiderate cycling after it had been made clear to all riders that blocking the road by riding more than two abreast, or dropping litter would not be tolerated. 

According to District Councillor, Maureen Holding, the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive led to "pandemonium" in Brockenhurst. She told the Daily Echo: "I hope the ban sends out a clear message that we expect people to behave." 

Cyclosport's Caven O'Hara attended the event, but fortunately avoided both the sabotage attempt and the rule violations to enjoy a fantastic day in the saddle. You can read his review HERE.