Cycling facing crisis due to cancelled road races

British Cycling calls for relaxation of rules and cheaper policing of big cycling events

by Rebecca McIlhone   April 9, 2009  

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As the race season gets into full swing this weekend British Cycling has raised concerns that cancellations in the cycling calendar could put the sport in crisis.

Fears abound that despite the success of British cyclists at the Olympics, stricter enforcement of health and safety rules and the enormous cost of policing events could threaten chances of bringing through the next generation of medal-winners.

The issue was highlighted by British Cycling in its quarterly 'Mission 2012' report to UK Sport.

Only last month the opening race of the blue riband Premier Calendar Series, the Bikeline Two-Day in north Wales, was cancelled by police midway through the first day for safety reasons, according to a story in The Daily Telegraph.

In February road.cc reported the cancellation of the Archer Grand Prix for only the second time in its 52-year history. Organiser Stuart Benstead said the event, cancelled in 2008 because of the costs of policing, had this year failed to find £20,000 vital sponsorship.

He called on British Cycling then to apply more pressure at a Government level to get the rules changed.

Jonny Clay, British Cycling’s cycling sport and membership director, told road.cc: “It’s a big issue for us.

“It’s something we’re trying to resolve but it’s unlikely to happen quickly. We’re working with the Department of Culture Media and Sport, the Home Office and the Department of Transport. At the moment there are three issues we want to talk to them about.”

These are:

  • The outdated 1960s Cycle Races on Highways regulations.
  • The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme, which could allow race organisers to train their own staff to oversee events and reduce the need for policing.
  • Police charging, which British Cycling says suffers from a lack of consistency around the country, and is generally far too expensive.

Clay says: “That should be set at an appropriate level for a volunteer-delivered sport, as 95 per cent of all road races are. Some police forces treat them like a premiership football match.

“There haven’t been loads of events cancelled but there have been a few and there’s a concern that it’s getting worse each year.”

This weekend's Premier Calendar even is the Girvan Stage Race which takes place from Saturday 11th to Monday 13th.