Cyclists dropped 182 gel packs and accompanying opening strips in a 600 metre monitored stretch of the course, which are potentially harmful to deer, in Richmond Park during Ride London, a conservation charity said.

Friends of Richmond Park said this number would be 'substantially higher' had the entire 6.1 kilometre course been checked.

The group said the number of gel packs littered represents a 90 per cent increase on last year’s Ride London, during which they claim 96 gel packs and strips were left.

Ride London admitted a ‘communication issue’ with litter patrols meant the teams’ work was not up to standard.

Over 20,000 cyclists turned out for the 100-mile Ride London event on Sunday, July 31, which went through East Sheen and Richmond Park, before moving onto Bushy Park via Kingston Bridge.

Friends of Richmond Park say the gel packs, which cyclists consume for energy, harm deer if they ingest enough of them, which eventually stops them ingesting other food.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

John Bartram, a Richmond Park wildlife officer, holding the stomach contents of two deer that died from litter

The group conducted a survey 24 hours after the race on a 600-metre stretch of the park.

Friends of Richmond Park trustee Richard Gray said: “Deer eat anything and it gets caught up in their guts.

“They swallow the plastic and if they eat enough it can stop them digesting other food.

“We’re not anti-cyclist, but we wonder why they have to throw the packets on the floor; why can’t they tuck them into their lycra?

“They blow onto the grass, which make them hard to see for litter-pickers.

“We just don’t want them to get into the deer and preventing them from eating.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Hugh Brasher, event director of Ride London, said next year’s race will have a dedicated litter clean-up team who will do one sweep after the amateur challenge ride, and one after the professional cyclists have passed through.

He also said cameras in secret locations throughout the park would be brought in to catch and ban riders who ignore the race’s anti-littering message.

Mr Brasher said: “We have done an enormous amount of messaging through our #LoveWhereYouRide campaign, which calls on riders to take home any rubbish with them from training rides and to use the waste facilities provided throughout the Prudential Ride London event.

“We have suggested a meeting and dialogue with Friends of Richmond Park.”