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Mountain Bike Racers In Colorado Get Sent Off Course

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(credit: AP)

(credit: AP)

DENVER (AP) – Organizers of the Breck Epic mountain bike stage race said Wednesday that the results will stand, even though someone switched signs and sent elite riders off course, adding up to 20 minutes to race times.

Race organizer Mike McCormack said the racers discussed the problem and helped come up with the solution.

“I think someone thought it would be funny to reroute our course. Some people don’t like cyclists infringing on their territory,” McCormack said.

The saboteurs reversed an arrow Tuesday at a major turning point on the course, then reattached course ribbons down the trail to try to assure misguided racers they were on the right path, McCormack said.

Some riders had GPS devices and quickly realized the problem, he said. Only a handful of riders, mostly from the elite men’s field, experienced problems.

The Breck Epic consists of 200 riders from as many as 15 countries who race through six stages covering 240 miles, with a total vertical span of about 37,000 feet.

It was fortunate the prank occurred on a backcountry road, McCormack said. If it had been a major highway, riders could have been forced into oncoming traffic and someone could have been hurt, he said.

Race officials are now sending forerunners who are familiar with the course to make sure all signage is accurate before racers pass through.

The incident was one of several that have plagued Colorado cycling in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Colorado authorities warned cyclists that tacks, box cutters and broken glass have been found strewn along popular bike routes that are part of the planned courses for major races next week — including the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Jefferson County sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelley said the objects are being purposely placed on trails and roads.

Cyclists have reported five or six incidents in which items were placed along popular bicycle routes, Kelley said. The incidents have caused several flat tires but no injuries.

The 100-mile Deer Creek Challenge, which takes place in a canyon south of Denver that is one of the most widely used riding routes in the area, is scheduled for Sunday.

A day later, elite cyclists from around the world will begin competing in the weeklong, 510-mile USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which culminates in a final stage that takes riders from Golden’s Lookout Mountain in Jefferson County into downtown Denver.

Crews will be sweeping the roads before the races, Kelley said. She said cyclists, homeowners and motorists have clashed for years over rights of way and there have been several attempts to negotiate a truce.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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