Hampshire & Isle of Wight

New Forest cycle sportive hopes for trouble-free ride

New Forest Sportive
Image caption Up to 2,000 cyclists are expected to ride the 58 mile route through the New Forest

Organisers of a mass cycle ride through the New Forest targeted by vandals say they are are "hopeful" a rescheduled ride will pass off peacefully.

There were claims of tacks thrown in the road and signs removed during the annual Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive in April.

Hampshire Police has warned it will take a "tough stance" against anyone trying to disrupt Saturday's event.

The force said it would support peaceful protest.

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

Police investigated after reports of vandalism on 13 April including hundreds of incidents of direction and safety signs being damaged or removed.

'Very dangerous'

Protesters also blocked part of the 58 mile (93km) route of the commercial, non-competitive event.

"We will not accept a repeat of incidents such as tacks being thrown on the road... this could potentially be very dangerous as it can cause the cyclist to lose control," Ch Insp Tony Rowlinson said.

"Last time it is just luck that no one was seriously hurt."

The second day of the weekend event in April was postponed because of flooding at the control centre near Brockenhurst.

Martin Barden, of UK Cycling Events, said: "We have received a lot of support for the event from businesses and are hoping for no silly behaviour.

"We're taking the same safety precautions and speed restrictions."

After the April event Dr Tony Hockley, of the New Forest Equestrian Association (NFEA), said he "deplored" any actions like putting tacks or pins on the road.

The National Park Authority previously said it would "continue to work with all parties to monitor these events".

A random poll conducted by the authority found 91% of participants came from outside the forest and 48% spent at least one night in a hotel or B&B.

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