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British Cycling welcomes Government pledge over cancelled road races

The Government has announced the formation of a working group to address the problems facing road racing in the UK, in response to pressure from British Cycling.

The national governing body for cycle sport in the UK has been lobbying Government for some time to change the rules covering road races following an increasing number of high profile cancellations of events designed to bring through the next generation of world class British cyclists.

Discussions following the cancellation of a number of events in March have resulted in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announcing the formation of a working group with the Home Office and Department for Transport to consider the steps that can be taken to resolve the issues.

As road.cc recently reported, stricter enforcement of health and safety rules and the enormous cost of policing events has led to the cancellation of events like the Archer GP and the Bikeline Two-Day, in north Wales.

In a letter to British Cycling, Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Minister of Sport, DCMS, said: “My department is committed to doing all it can to ensure a bright future for British Cycling road races, especially in light of the fantastic performances by our cyclists last year, none more so than Nicole Cooke’s Gold in Beijing.”

“I can assure you that officials in my department are working with the Home Office and the Department for Transport to discuss the steps which can be reasonably taken to ensure the best outcome for British Cycling and will be establishing a working group. As part of this process we will ensure British Cycling is consulted on the issues they face as we look to resolve them.”

In addition, British Cycling says it will invest additional resources to accelerate this work at a national and regional level as part of its 2009-2013 plans, due to be announced shortly.

The increased investment will include:

• The appointment of an events policy officer to complement the work going on within Government to secure the long-term future of cycle sport on the highway.

• The deployment of ten full-time regional events officers to increase support for the volunteer workforce which delivers events.

• The appointment of a national championship/series co-ordinator to increase capacity, support existing event organisers and review all championships for the 2010 season to make them more commercially viable and sustainable in the future.

• Increased training and education opportunities for existing and new event officials including the expansion of the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme to legally enable accredited marshals to stop traffic during road races.

The problems being faced by events on the highway have been raised as part of UK Sport’s ‘Mission 2012’ initiative to help sportsmen and women progress towards success in the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic events.

It has been confirmed to UK Sport that British Cycling’s ability to win medals is being compromised significantly by a year-on-year weakening of the road race calendar

Ian Drake, British Cycling’s CEO said: "The law and issues around road racing are complex and it will take time to resolve, however, with the backing and support of Government, UK Sport and Sport England and the increased investment from British Cycling, we can now drive forward the necessary changes required.

"British Cycling is determined to play its full part in bringing about the right solutions which will allow this great sport to survive and flourish in the future."

For more information on British Cycling visit www.britishcycling.org.uk