Hampshire & Isle of Wight

New Forest cycle sportive event called off after flooding

New Forest Sportive
Image caption The annual New Forest Sportive route takes cyclists up to 58 miles through the New Forest

A mass cycle ride through the New Forest has been called off because of flooding following heavy rain.

Organisers of the Wiggle New Forest Sportive said their control centre near Brockenhurst and parts of the 58-mile (93km) course had been flooded.

The event had been criticised by horse owners who said it created "no-go zones" for other forest users.

UK Cycle Events had insisted it was safe and helped local business. It said the event could be re-staged in June.

Now in its fifth year, the non-competitive event had been expected to attract about 2,000 people on both Saturday and Sunday.

While Saturday's ride did take place around the New Forest's lanes, UK Cycle Events said "extreme weather" during the afternoon had led to the decision to postpone the second day of cycling.

Speaking before the weekend's event, Dr Tony Hockley, of the New Forest Equestrian Association (NFEA), said there was "immense risk" to horses and riders from such events, especially when cyclists came up fast and silently from behind.

Last month, New Forest East MP Julian Lewis, wrote to transport minister Norman Baker calling for them to be subject to the same licensing regulations as road races currently are.

The National Park Authority has previously said it would "actively monitor" such events.

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