HEARTLESS individuals are thought to have targeted a Northwich cycle race by putting a ‘cupful’ of carpet tacks on a section of the circuit.

The Cheshire Classic, part of British Cycling’s prestigious national road series, was also subject to an hour-long interruption after a rider was knocked off her bike by a motorist on the A49.

Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, including Norley-based Sarah Storey, took their place in the event, on Sunday, which started and finished at the Hanging Gate, in Weaverham.

Dave Astles, press officer for Weaver Valley Cycling Club and race marshall on the day, said that the tacks could have caused a fatality.

Talking of the events on the five-mile circuit, he said: “The tacks were mainly in the Acton Lane area.

“I was marshalling at the top of the lane and one of the girls came up with a flat tyre with a tack in it.

“We then sent a search party on the lane and picked up something like a cupful of these tacks and we believe they were put there on purpose.

“There were quite a few punctures - one of the service vehicles had run out of spare wheels.

“It is very understandable they could have caused an accident by the punctures, especially if you get a puncture in the front, as it becomes very unstable.”

He added: “The thing that grates everyone is we are nearly in an Olympic year.

“The Olympics is going to be held in London and quite a few of the girls are Olympic hopefuls and they are getting this sort of treatment from a minority of the public.”

The race was reduced to eight laps following the two incidents.

Cheshire Police confirmed that officers attended the road traffic collision, on the A49 section of the circuit, at 10.35am.

A spokesperson stated that one woman was injured and the car failed to stop.

Dave added that despite the hiccups, Lucy Garner was crowned ‘worthy winner’ of the race.