British Cycling has launched a campaign that seeks to rescue Britain’s under-threat road racing scene to help maintain a launch pad for the careers of future UK stars in the sport in an initiative that has received the backing of Kuota-road.cc’s own Team Director, Cherie Pridham.
Called Keep Racing on the Roads, the campaign is supported by a page on the social networking website, Facebook, designed to encourage everyone interested in securing the future of road racing in Britain to lend their support in whatever way they can.
According to British Cycling, although the nation is experiencing an unprecedented boom in cycling, and the country’s elite road cyclists are making their mark on the sport as never before, road racing within the UK itself “faces an uncertain future as event organisers struggle to cope with archaic legislation and increasing police charges.”
It adds that “these problems are increasingly discouraging organisers, most of them unpaid volunteers, from staging events,” leading to Britain “losing the grass roots of road racing as more and more events disappear from the calendar.”
That in turn means that many of the country’s emerging stars have to go abroad to get experience of racing and British Cycling highlights that if the situation continues, there will be a dearth of opportunity to help launch the careers of future Olympic and Tour de France stars from the UK.
Pridham, an ex-pro rider who was a Great Britain squad member for a number of years and also rode in the female versions of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, agrees that domestic road races are vital in helping develop future top class talent.
“Club level road races is where most young riders start,” she explains. “Being a British Cycling qualified coach, as well as a team manager, I can certainly vouch for the importance of spotting talented riders on the road at a young age.
“Our sport of cycling will suffer very badly, if our up and coming stars do not have road races to make their mark, progress and shine,” she cautioned, adding “we absolutely need road races and to do this, the race organisers need the support from the cycling fans and public alike.”
The sport’s governing body has enlisted the help of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS), Department for Transport and the Home Office to help address the problem, and last week MPs and parliamentary candidates in the forthcoming general election received a letter outlining the issues and asking for support, signed by British Cycling CEO Ian Drake, Performance Director Dave Brailsford, and Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy.
Now, British Cycling is calling on the public to get involved in its campaign through its Keep Racing on the Roads Facebook campaign, launched last Friday, which now has more than 4,500 fans.
British Cycling CEO Drake said: "The decline of road races in this country absolutely must be reversed. We are working really hard on this issue and we believe that with the right support from Government and the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon we have a rare opportunity to make some fundamental changes. I am asking all our members and all cycling enthusiasts to get behind us as we campaign to secure the future of UK road racing."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.