Hundreds of cyclists barred from finishing race

2010-10-19 00:00

HUNDREDS of cyclists taking part in the annual Amashovashova cycle race were left angry and disappointed yesterday after Durban Metro Police stopped them from continuing with the race because they had missed the cut-off time in Shongweni.

Hundreds of cyclists who had come from far-flung parts of the country for the race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban were apparently unaware that the cut-off time had been brought forward and they missed the noon deadline.

This led to a minor confrontation between the cyclists and the metro police.

Annie Batcheleder, race organiser, said yesterday they fielded many complaints from hundreds of cyclists who were upset about not being able to finish their race after spending lots of money to participate.

She said the confusion occurred after Hillcrest residents demanded earlier cut-off times because they believe that the status of the race does not warrant extensive road closures.

“Although the information was communicated to the cyclists, some do not read all the information we sent them,” she said.

“Another problem is that every year the residents demand that the cut-off time should be earlier and earlier, which means that someone who participated in the race in 2008 will not know that the cut-off time had changed.”

Batcheleder said the metro police were also too strict in enforcing the cut-off time.

She said that today they will negotiate with the Durban disaster team to fix the cut-off time at 1 pm.

One of the affected cyclists, Jake ­Alletson, wrote to The Witness to complain about the incident. He said the cyclists were left very upset.

“Hundreds of cyclists were disappointed to be unexpectedly stopped and be told that they could not continue, despite the fact that they would have had two hours to reach the finish line in time and could easily have done so,” said the cyclist.

“The situation at the on-ramp became confrontational, with large numbers of police being present and with the cyclists being told that they were ‘illegal’, although they had not committed any crimes.”

Colonel Jay Naicker of the SA Police Force said he was not aware of any confrontation between the metro police and the cyclists.

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