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The planned Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn race scheduled for Friday has been abandoned after police arrested a couple suspected of planning a terror attack in connection to the event.
According to various reports, a suspected Islamist extremist and his wife were arrested in their homes in Oberursel, close to the route. A bomb, a firearm plus ammunition and chemicals that can potentially be used to make explosives were reportedly seized.
AP reported that a Hesse state crime office stated that the reason for the cancellation of the event was due to ‘indications of a possible threat to the population.’’
According to German security officials, the arrests foiled what might have been a terror attack similar to the one which afflicted the Boston Marathon in 2013.
The race was due to include several strong teams including the WorldTour squads Katusha, Giant-Alpecin and Lampre-Merida.
A subsequent report on dw.de stated that Albrecht Schreiber, the top public prosecutor in Hesse, had clarified what exactly was found. He said that a completed pipe bomb was seized, along with three liters of hydrogen peroxide, 100 rounds of live 9-milimeter munitions, a training projectile for a rocket-propelled grenade, methylated spirits, diesel, other “unknown fluids,” and also “meaningful parts of a G3 assault rifle.”
The same report stated that the two arrested was a 35 year old German with Turkish roots and his 34 year old wife. They had apparently been seen buying the hydrogen peroxide in a local hardware store, and the man was also observed in recent days surveying part of the route of the race.
Other reports suggest that the man has a knowledge of chemistry. The duo had been under scrutiny for weeks.
Police president Stefan Müller said it was not absolutely certain that the race was the intended target, but that it may well have been.
“It is, of course, a soft target,” he said. “It would be relatively easy to attack.
“And since the Boston Marathon, such events are closely watched, which also applies to cycling races.”
The Danish Cult Energy Pro Cycling squad was one of those scheduled to take part. Its directeur sportif Michael Skelde said that the team was heading home.
“Naturally, this is shocking news to all of us. We have the deepest respect for the decision to cancel tomorrow’s race and we’re only thankful and grateful that the race didn’t end in a terrible disaster for both the many spectators, the organizers and the riders.”
Alexander Kristoff won the 1.HC-ranked race last year and was due to return at the helm of his Katusha team.