Local business-owners in the Lancashire village of Barley, on the route of last weekend’s National Road Race Championships in Pendle, claim that they have suffered financial loss after much lower than expected crowds turned out to watch the event.
The women’s race, won by Cervélo TestTeam’s Emma Pooley, began at 8.30am but the men’s event, where Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas claimed victory from team-mate Peter Kennaugh, didn’t get going until 1pm, meaning that it clashed with TV coverage of England’s World Cup match against Germany, which kicked off two hours later.
The village, which lies at the bottom of Pendle Hill, was effectively cut off during the championships, which were organised by Pennine Events, according to a report in the Burnley Citizen.
The newspaper says that local businesses had been told to expect a turnout of 15,000 people along the route on Sunday, but added that villagers claimed that only 1,000 people passed through Barley during the race.
It added that race organisers had said that 5,000 people lined the entire route, but acknowledged that the clash with the World Cup match, which saw England dumped out of the tournament 4-1, had a “devastating effect on numbers,” adding that “overall the event was a wonderful occasion.”
Paula Milligan, who owns The Cabin Cafe, says she lost £3,000 as a result of failing to sell her stock of energy drinks, partly as a result of free samples being given away as a result of promotions linked to the event, telling the newspaper: “It was just ridiculous that we had been told to buy in crates of these drinks when the organisers knew that a sponsor a couple of metres away from us would be giving them out for free.”
Ms Milligan continued: “We had 10 staff on stand by for the big rush but it just never happened. We were lucky that we had got the contract to feed all the marshalls and organisers otherwise we would have been in dire straits."
Another local business-owner, Rob Mcauley from the Barley Mow restaurant on the outskirts of the village claimed that “It ended up being quieter than a normal weekend and we lost thousands,” and maintained that “The promises we were given were just downright ludicrous.”
According to the newspaper, Brian Cookson, who besides being President of British Cycling is also Executive Director (Regeneration) at Pendle Council, said that visitor numbers had been estimated at between 5,000 and 20,000.
He also claimed that it hadn’t been possible to predict the clash with the World Cup match, although it should be pointed out that ever since the tournament draw was made last December, Sunday afternoon was only one of two times that England could have played a potential last 16 match.
Mr Cookson added: "We have no doubt that the long term benefits to local businesses will be very substantial as these visitors spread the word about the attractions of Pendle."
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.