Farmers with sticks attack cyclists during race
Cyclists taking part in a road race through the mountains of the Scottish borders were attacked by elderly men brandishing sticks who tried to block their path.
The two men, thought to be in their 70s, were both dressed in tweed and flat caps and were said to be local farmers protesting at the road closures preventing them from getting between their fields during the harvest.
Police are investigating the incident and are keen to speak to witnesses who saw the men, who had disappeared by the time they arrived on the scene.
The 74-mile race, which began and ended in Peebles, some 23 miles south of Edinburgh, attracted almost 2,000 competitors and required the closure of several local roads.
Angry cyclists vented their fury online, and organisers of the Tour O The Borders event branded the men’s actions “totally outrageous” and said they were “horrified” by what had happened.
The men, who were captured on one of the cyclist’s GoPro cameras, were said to have poked the sticks through riders’ spokes, hit them and caused at least one rider to fall off.
Cyclist Brian Ogg wrote on the event’s Facebook page: “A great day out, however almost ruined by the 2 farmers who tried to create a road block as wave 1 joined the A701 by standing in the middle of the road with sticks in each hand trying to get them through the spokes.”
Another, Patrick Hutton, said: “Only actually saw one of them, who had a wee face-off with a rider in front of me, Older bloke, long coat and holding what looked like sections of rodding, as you would use for clearing drains.”
In footage posted online, the two pensioners appear in the middle of the road, brandishing sticks and try to stop the cyclists from passing, forcing them to slow down or stop.
Most swerve around the pair but one cycles through the middle.
Eddie Petrie, who was in the first wave of riders and witnessed the incident, said: “The cyclists in front started to slow down, because something was something on the road.
“As I got closer I saw what I assumed were two farmers, and each had a 3ft or 4ft long stick in each hand. They were standing in the middle of the road and the cyclists were just trying to get past.
It was a totally appalling unprovoked attack which spoiled the day. Hopefully something will be done and these two idiots will be brought to justice in some way."
Paul Mellotte, another competitor, said: “I cycled up towards them and noticed they were both holding out big sticks I asked them what has happened and was there a problem ahead? One of them said, ‘You are the problem.’
"I had to stop my bike and then I pushed with my foot to get past them."
Event organiser, Neil Dalgleish, said he was told at least one rider had been forced off his bike and had to be taken to hospital.
He said: "I think a truly special day was marred by some thugs, some idiots.
"Their behaviour is disgusting, and they are a disgrace to the whole of the Borders, let alone their own communities.
"We have had to make it clear that this kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. It could have caused serious injuries or worse."
In recent years, farmers have expressed concerns at not being able to move between their fields at harvest time due to cycling events.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said they had not yet managed to identify the two men but that a member of the public who had reported the incident had said they were local farmers staging a protest.
“We can confirm that we are aware of interactions between participants and members of the public at the Tour O the Borders event on Sunday, September 3,” she said.
“At this point no injuries have been reported to police, however officers are still establishing the full circumstances.”
A spokesman for Tesco Bank, which sponsors the annual ride, said: “We feel that the event was a success, we had over 2,000 participants and lots of people cheering the participants on.
“We are aware of the incident and that the Police are looking into it.”