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Ferry crossings, accommodation and time needed off work make trip impossible, road.cc learns

Some of the biggest names in cycling will be heading to the Isle of Man this June for the HSBC UK National Road Race Championships – but road.cc has learnt that some riders from domestic teams with limited budgets, or who might have considered entering as individuals, face missing the event due to the financial and logistical costs involved.

British Cycling confirmed last month that the island in the Irish Sea, the birthplace of former men’s national road champions Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data and Team Sky’s Peter Kennaugh, would be hosting this year’s event.

The men’s and women’s time trials, where Movistar’s Alex Dowsett and Team WNT Pro Cycling’s Hayley Simmonds will each be looking for a third successive title, take place on Thursday 22 June.

The following Sunday 25 June sees the road races, where Aqua Blue Sports Adam Blythe and Hannah Barnes of Canyon-SRAM are the respective defending men’s and women’s champions.

But the owner of one women’s team told us that due to the costs involved, they would be compelled to enter fewer riders than at last year’s event, which was held in Stockton-on-Tees.

He told road.cc that the expense of getting six riders, a sports director and a mechanic to the Isle of Man – “upwards of £1,000” once travel, accommodation and food were factored in – had forced the team to miss the round of last year’s National Series held on the island.

“We’re not a rich team, our sponsorship only runs so far and the riders already contribute a fair amount in race entries,” he continued.

“For that price we can go and do a couple of weekends in Belgium or Holland. The organiser of the race contacted me offered a 'deal' he'd got on ferries, which was a whole £1 cheaper than the best price I'd managed to get, so we politely declined.

“We'll go to ride the Nationals this year because it's the Nationals, but we are likely to take a small team, which will be a shame.

“If it was another event we wouldn't bother. It's a shame as the Isle of Man is a great place to ride a bike and race, but unless the organiser can help towards costs I fear some teams may be thinking twice.”

The company Isle of Man Steam Packet operates ferries to the island’s capital, Douglas, from three ports in northwest England – Liverpool, Birkenhead, and Heysham. Depending on the route, sailing time is between 2 hours 45 minutes and 4 hours 15 minutes.

Currently, the cheapest crossing to go out on Wednesday 21 June, the eve of the time trials, and return after the road race on the evening of Sunday 25 June, is £322.30 for an estate car typical of those used by a cycling team, with a driver and three adult passengers, and carrying bikes on the roof rack.

A search on Booking.com to stay in Douglas during those dates – four nights – reveals that many hotels and guest houses are almost sold out. Several have just one double or twin room left and much of the accommodation that does remain is not cheap.

It does seem that the problems associated with getting to the Isle of Man and securing accommodation will have more of an impact on the women's races rather than the men's, unsurprising given the disparity in finances between teams on each side of the gender divide.

Sian Botteley, a 20-year-old rider who finished 51st in last year’s women’s road race in Stockton-on-Tees, told road.cc she was having “second thoughts” after learning the event would be held on the Isle of Man.

“I'd love to do the race because Nationals is always a great target to aim for but it may not be financially viable,” she said.

“Personally, if I were to go, I imagine I would have to fund the trip mostly myself. My team for this season, Cycle Team OnForm, is a new set-up with a relatively low budget compared to the bigger more established teams.

“Also, in order to pursue cycling fully I only currently have a small part-time job and therefore would struggle to afford it myself, and while my parents are always fully behind me with cycling, I certainly wouldn't ask them to fund such a potentially expensive trip.”

She cotinued: “Nothing is booked yet as the decision as to whether or not I'll go hasn't been made, and probably won't be made until I'm a little way into the season and have a better idea of where I stand with regard to the performance I'd be able to produce in the race.

The event represents a rare opportunity for domestic riders to pit themselves against some of the top names in the sport, as Botteley explained.

“Being still a young rider at 20 years old, it's hugely valuable racing against some of the best riders in the world and often the national championships is the only opportunity throughout the year that riders of my level get to compare themselves against those girls.

“It's a big thing being able to race shoulder to shoulder with riders that you idolise and it's fantastic for your self-confidence if you can raise your game on a bigger stage.”

She added: “Many younger riders will be on smaller teams with lower budgets so there will definitely be a big chunk of them missing out.

“Racing the national championships as a young, relatively inexperienced rider can be a huge baptism of fire, but also a massive learning curve that you take so much away from.”

We are aware of other riders who have already decided they won’t be entering the event, or who are still undecided about it. One rider, who has ridden the National Championships before, said she was “gutted” at the prospect of missing this year’s event, adding that she is having trouble justifying the cost as well as the three days off work it would entail.

There’s little doubt that given the setting, the Isle of Man will provide a spectacular backdrop to the National Championships, and should make for some exciting racing.

But at a time when British Cycling is under scrutiny as never before, have they scored an own-goal in having them hosted somewhere that deters many from entering in the first place?

We have asked the governing body for a comment.

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.

29 comments

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psling [255 posts] 8 months ago
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I can see Crowdfunding getting some business!

How much do they want it? A lady I know cycled to Portugal, rowed to Brazil and then cycled south to the Olympics last year as part of a 4 person team ... and they were just spectating!

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whoishJ [7 posts] 8 months ago
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psling wrote:

How much do they want it? A lady I know cycled to Portugal, rowed to Brazil and then cycled south to the Olympics last year as part of a 4 person team ... and they were just spectating!

 

Because wanting it more will magically make more money appear, right?

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fenix [739 posts] 8 months ago
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You'd think that people would be peaking for the Nationals though - so if you're having to spend cash or take holidays - it would be for the A race ? 

 

If they want a cheap sport then cycling isn't the one. 

 

And what about the old Manx Cycling Week ? That used to bring loads of riders. You didn't hear Fignorn and co complaining. 

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I love my bike [211 posts] 8 months ago
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As it's not actually part of the UK, it's interesting that it gets to host the Championships.

Maybe, Sochi will hold them in 2019, as they get to hold Grand Prix, the Olympics, World Cup etc?

If Tristan De Cunha would build some roads, it could be held there!

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HalfWheeler [651 posts] 8 months ago
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fenix wrote:

And what about the old Manx Cycling Week ? That used to bring loads of riders. 

Beat me to it. The Manx week was THE British cycling event for many decades.

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HalfWheeler [651 posts] 8 months ago
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I love my bike wrote:

As it's not actually part of the UK, it's interesting that it gets to host the Championships.

Maybe, Sochi will hold them in 2019, as they get to hold Grand Prix, the Olympics, World Cup etc?

If Tristan De Cunha would build some roads, it could be held there!

It's the British Championships not the UK Championships. Subtle but crucial difference.

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pedalpowerDC [364 posts] 8 months ago
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If they are going to complain about travel time, think about travel times for most every participant at USA nationals. Let's see, USA CX nats was in Hartford, Connecticut a few weeks ago. That's over 3000miles (4800km) from cyclocross hotbed Portland, Oregon. How about a little rule 5 HTFU from some of these Brits?

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Gkam84 [9108 posts] 8 months ago
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fenix wrote:

You'd think that people would be peaking for the Nationals though - so if you're having to spend cash or take holidays - it would be for the A race ? 

 

If they want a cheap sport then cycling isn't the one. 

 

And what about the old Manx Cycling Week ? That used to bring loads of riders. You didn't hear Fignorn and co complaining. 

 

Peaking for nationals, that's not the case, very rarely do I here riders saying they are aiming to peak for nationals.

Not even going to get into the cost.
 

The old Manx Cycling Week still exists, it is now called the IoM Cyclefest, but takes place in May for three days. The nationals is a stand alone event and if you are aiming to do the TT and RR, means having to either find accommodation for the full period or make two trips. Last year the nationals in Stockton was quite a distance for some riders from down south, but they made the two trips for TT and RR because it was doable. Sadly, this isn't possible when you put the nationals onto an island which only has a limited ferry service. For example, you cannot get home after the race, you HAVE to stay an extra night because of this, adding additional costs.

Unless British Cycling pull their finger out and either subsidise ferries or at least reschedule them for crossings that can work in for riders not having to stay longer than needed. The number of riders attending will be at an all time low. Just like when the national series went there last year (which has disappeared from the calendar this year thankfully)

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Awavey [334 posts] 8 months ago
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but note its the HSBC nationals thesedays, not just the mere nationals anymore, youd think if they were so keen to have their logo splashed everywhere they could stump up some cash to help subsidise the riders accomodation/travel, you could easily set it up based on race points

as for the HTFU stuff ? grow up

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Gozzy [22 posts] 8 months ago
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pedalpowerDC wrote:

If they are going to complain about travel time, think about travel times for most every participant at USA nationals. Let's see, USA CX nats was in Hartford, Connecticut a few weeks ago. That's over 3000miles (4800km) from cyclocross hotbed Portland, Oregon. How about a little rule 5 HTFU from some of these Brits?

 

Well, if you will have the country that spans a decent amount of a continent then you've got to expect some big travel times. The entire UK is about the same size as Wyoming or Oregon apparently. That leaves a few more states worth of distance in the USA I reckon. 

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Twowheelsaregreat [86 posts] 8 months ago
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pedalpowerDC wrote:

If they are going to complain about travel time, think about travel times for most every participant at USA nationals. Let's see, USA CX nats was in Hartford, Connecticut a few weeks ago. That's over 3000miles (4800km) from cyclocross hotbed Portland, Oregon. How about a little rule 5 HTFU from some of these Brits?

They aren't complaining about travel time though are they? At least according to this article that hasn't been mentioned. They are complaining about cost.

To put some perspective on this how much did it cost for "most every participant" to travel from portland to Hartford? If it was much more then the American teams must be very lucky to have so much money. If it was less then I think the problems lie elsewhere, not so much with the organiser but with the general cost of getting around these isles and accommodation if and when they get there.

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Yorkshire wallet [1429 posts] 8 months ago
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Christ, how little money is there in cycling? Ironic given how much pro bikes cost.

When I was involved with BSB superstock a few years ago half-decent teams would be spending about £80k a reason and they were the guys that didn't get on TV half the time and had sponsors like Naylors World of Carpets or whatever.

I can't believe you can be serious about competing at a good level and not be able to find £1000. Meanwhile, £350 for a pair of shoes.

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Stumps [3496 posts] 8 months ago
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You'll probably find that for the weekends where the races are on most hotelliers and guest houses will yark their prices up which doesn't help.

But its the Nationals and if teams are worried over costs they should miss out on one of the lesser races they participate in. However they may have contracts where they have to take part in the lesser races or risk being kicked out. Its a tricky choice.

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Yellow Peril [23 posts] 8 months ago
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"For that price we can go and do a couple of weekends in Belgium or Holland."

Not sure about the relevance of this statement. Do your sponsors have a particular link with those countries and are looking to raise their profile there? Are  you entering  the Belgian or Dutch National championships? are those races being televised  in Britain ?(again assuming your sponsors are looking for some exposure) 

No one denies that the logisitics are not ideal that's why it's been 20 plus years since the Island last hosted the Championships. However, it's not that many years ago that road racing in Britain was an endangered species, remember the Archer GP anyone? Throughout the lean times the IOM continued to provide a crop of young talented British riders (it would be trite to name them ) and even added a new race to the Premier calendar last year with the Manx International.

Now you can compain about the cost and the inconvenience of attending the Nationals which is arguably the most prestigious event in the domestic calendar but  before doing so I would as you please take a moment to acknowledge the Island's contribution to cycling before you voice your complaints and cast a shadow over British Cycling's decision

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Batchy [386 posts] 8 months ago
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With all the money British Cycling has received over recent years surely they have the resources available to subsidise some of the smaller British based teams at the Nationals. After all the sole objective of BC is to promote cycling. No doubt all the British riders are members otherwise they would not be eligible to ride !

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fustuarium [227 posts] 8 months ago
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Batchy wrote:

With all the money British Cycling has received over recent years surely they have the resources available to subsidise some of the smaller British based teams at the Nationals.

 

Maybe it's all been spent on lawyers fees after recent news stories!

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SingleSpeed [359 posts] 8 months ago
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My heart bleeds for the little petals.

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sithlord [25 posts] 8 months ago
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From my experience turning up at National champs is a complete waste of money unless you are at least on a Conti team.  Just look at the results over the last 5 years.  So either accept the cost and go (to probably get dropped after 45mins) or find another race.  It is a professional sport now, amateurs need to accept that.

 

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Gkam84 [9108 posts] 8 months ago
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Some right idoits commenting here. As I fully expected. I know the team manager that made that comment, highly respected team competing domestically and abroad.

Then there are those people who seem to ONLY know about mens cycling "Don't turn up unless you are on a Conti team".....clearly knows nothing about womens cycling, especially calling a professional sport.

Team budgets, nowhere near the £80k as commented above. Infact, some womens teams only provide kit and a number of race entries. Most of the season you have to self fund your racing, travel and everything else associated with racing. Missing out "lesser" races isn't really an option either, as you'd need to miss about 5 races to save the money for the time needed on IoM. That's nearly a whole road series.
 

Yeah the IoM has produced a number of great cyclists and no-one is denying that, yes the premier calendar went there last year aswell.....but gained half the entries of any other Women’s Road Series or Mens Spring Cup race. Which you'll also notice has not been continued into 2017 and there are no Manx races on any series calendar apart from the Youth/Juniors tours. Much to the relief of many riders and teams.

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Yellow Peril [23 posts] 8 months ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

Some right idoits commenting here. As I fully expected. I know the team manager that made that comment, highly respected team competing domestically and abroad.

Then there are those people who seem to ONLY know about mens cycling "Don't turn up unless you are on a Conti team".....clearly knows nothing about womens cycling, especially calling a professional sport.

Team budgets, nowhere near the £80k as commented above. Infact, some womens teams only provide kit and a number of race entries. Most of the season you have to self fund your racing, travel and everything else associated with racing. Missing out "lesser" races isn't really an option either, as you'd need to miss about 5 races to save the money for the time needed on IoM. That's nearly a whole road series.
 

Yeah the IoM has produced a number of great cyclists and no-one is denying that, yes the premier calendar went there last year aswell.....but gained half the entries of any other Women’s Road Series or Mens Spring Cup race. Which you'll also notice has not been continued into 2017 and there are no Manx races on any series calendar apart from the Youth/Juniors tours. Much to the relief of many riders and teams.

Yes there is no Spring cup in the Isle of Man this year...because they are hosting the Nationals. Perhaps it was done by BC and the organiisers to minimise the cost to teams? I thought you might have been able to join the dots on that one.

Anyway that aside I respect the perogative of teams and riders to moan about the cost of travel to races, it has to be easier than organising them don't you think?

On which point let me know when you are organising either a Prem calendar event or putting together a National's bid which I'm sure you wil be doing to make sure everyone who wants to compete has absolutely nothing to about

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Gkam84 [9108 posts] 8 months ago
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I very much doubt it was done to minimise costs to teams, more the fact that the numbers simply didn't show up last year and so it was cut. Riders made their voices heard and didn't turn up. 

I've been involved with race organisation before, I'm not saying it's easy, but when British Cycling keeps denying bids from Scottish organisers for national events. Including Road and Cyclocross with the reason "riders won't travel that far". I'd love to know the reasoning behind having it on IoM, considering riders didn't travel there last season, why would they do it this season.

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Pemulis [2 posts] 8 months ago
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fenix wrote:

 

And what about the old Manx Cycling Week ? That used to bring loads of riders. You didn't hear Fignorn and co complaining. 

Plenty of prize money available in the Cycling Week, far far less available at Nationals. But your general lack of sympathy for struggling pro cyclists makes me think you're not speaking from a position of knowledge.

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madcarew [447 posts] 8 months ago
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I raced on IoM in the early 90's. Was amazing courses. Personally as a racer I'd make the extra effort just to race on those courses. However I get the issue with racing against the pros. As a 48 yr old weekend warrior I went in one of NZ's biggest races late last year and got dropped after 25 min after 5 guys including 2 olympians and all pro-conti riders attacked on the front from the word go. Be a shame to travel and spend up large to get dropped that early at the nats. 

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fuzzywuzzy [85 posts] 8 months ago
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On the one hand it's a bit of a shame some won't be able to afford the costs and also that there's so little money in the sport below World Tour level that this sort of thing is a reality.

On the other hand people know this getting into the sport (certainly before they turn pro), at least you'd hope they generally like their job to do it under those conditions. I hate my job but it pays the bills, it would even allow me to go to IoM on holiday.

No one has a god-given right to make a living out of riding a bike (or doing any other sport for that matter), a lucky few make it and make a good living out of the money that's in the sport but most don't. There are other career options available...

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Roddders [17 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

He should maybve ask his sponsors to cover the expenses or is he just running the team as an ego boost?  

 

I might be wrong but I would guess that his teams jerseys are covered in sponsors.  If he chooses to cheapen the sport by giving free publicity, he has no one else to blame but himself.

 

No wonder womens cycling struggles to get sponsors and money when you have teams giving advwertising space away for next to nothing.

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Yorkshire wallet [1429 posts] 8 months ago
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Roddders wrote:

He should maybve ask his sponsors to cover the expenses or is he just running the team as an ego boost?  

 

I might be wrong but I would guess that his teams jerseys are covered in sponsors.  If he chooses to cheapen the sport by giving free publicity, he has no one else to blame but himself.

 

No wonder womens cycling struggles to get sponsors and money when you have teams giving advwertising space away for next to nothing.

That's the point I was making mentioning that bottom of the ladder BSB interests can still drum up half decent sponsorship and yet cycling which seems to be getting a decent amount of airtime at the moment, is nickel and dime stuff when it comes to competing.

The controlling body perhaps needs to look into how to get more money into the sport. Then after reading all about the top pro team finances in Pro Cycling, the whole sport seems on the verge of collapse.

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Tojo [10 posts] 8 months ago
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Privateer riders manage to get to the IOM TT every year for 2 weeks, one week practice and a week racing.....!

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fenix [739 posts] 8 months ago
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Maybe we'd best run the RR permanently up Box Hill to suit the Southerners ? 

 

Wherever it goes it will put people out.  If they're put off though - they aren't the future of cycling.

 

Look at Cav and Kennaugh - did growing up on a small island hinder them ? 

 

Man up and save your pennies if you're serious. 

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Pemulis [2 posts] 8 months ago
1 like
fenix wrote:

 

Man up and save your pennies if you're serious. 

 

mate, are you aware of how much the riders on, say, Team Wiggins are paid? Take a wild stab in the dark. 

 

Cycling is is a hard sport in many respects - the hours, the danger, the lack of cash. To compete for a full season, most people are already stretched to the limit. 

The riders aren't speaking as a unanimous body, wailing for the race to be moved to the mainland. Most are really going to struggle, and some better organization from BC would go a long way.

Would you mind taking a deep breath and just thinking for a second about the circumstances the riders are in? What happens if we limit the field to only those able to afford the trip? What does that do for our sport?