Four cyclists injured and driver arrested during endurance event

The A15 close to scene of the collision near Ashby de la Launde. EMN-171209-103746001
The A15 close to scene of the collision near Ashby de la Launde. EMN-171209-103746001

A man has been arrested and four people hospitalised after a car collided with a group of riders heading towards Sleaford at night during a long distance cycle event.

The 29-year-old local man driving a VW Scirocco was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and failing to stop at the time of the incident on the A15 in the early hours of Sunday morning. He has been released while under police investigation.

Cyclists ride out on a similiar 100km Audax event around Suffolk. EMN-171209-104022001

Cyclists ride out on a similiar 100km Audax event around Suffolk. EMN-171209-104022001

The collision is said by Lincolnshire Police to have happened at around 2.25am near Ashby de la Launde. A spokesman said: “Two of the cyclists remain in Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, in a serious condition. They are both men in their 50s from Essex and Hertfordshire.”

The cyclists were part of a large, 40-hour long distance organised bike ride under the banner of Audax UK - the long distance cyclists association, heading from Lincoln towards Sleaford.

The event, known as the Flatlands 600km, involved around 70 cyclists who set off on Saturday morning from Great Dunmow in Essex, headed into Lincolnshire via Boston, Kirton-in-Lindsey, turning at Goole, then back through Gainsborough, Sleaford, Chatteris and returning to Essex.

It has been revealed the riders had been diverted by police from the suggested B1188 route by an earlier, unrelated collision.

Part of the A15 remained closed until lunchtime. Any witnesses who have not already spoken with officers, are asked to call 101, quoting incident number 54 of September 10.

Event coordinator Tom Deakins of Mid-Essex Audax said he was awaiting contact from the police and communicating with the Audax UK board, adding: “I have also been in touch with family and friends of the injured riders. Obviously my thoughts and prayers are with all of them at the present time.”

Audax UK is the regulating body for non-competitive long distance cycling events in the UK. Endurance cyclists ride a set distance within a time limit, taking any route via checkpoints. Events range from 50km up to 1,400km and are organised by individual members, often with the support of local cycling clubs or associations.

Graeme Provan, General Secretary of Audax UK said: “Only the most experienced organisers are permitted to organise the longer (300km plus) events.

Each event is subjected to an annual process of scrutiny that includes a risk assessment.”

He said the limited field tended to consist of very experienced riders, all self-sufficient, carrying food, clothing and lighting, saying: “Most riders will find somewhere to sleep for part of the night but most of them will be riding in the dark at some point.”

Mr Provan added: “Our thoughts are with the victims of the incident and their families at this time.”