The Chief Executive of British Cycling has paid tribute to the talented young racing cyclist Junior Heffernan, who was killed while racing in the Severn Bridge Road Race on Sunday.
Ian Drake said: "The whole cylling community has been profoundly saddened by the death of Junior Heffernan and the thoughts of everyone at British Cycling are with Junior's family and friends.
"Our efforts this week have been focused on working with the police and supporting Bristol Road Club, the organisers of the Severn Bridge Road Race, the Herbalife team and of course Junior’s family.
"At this difficult time it is worth remembering incidents of this kind are very rare in road racing and this is the first death in decades and in tens of thousands of races."
Heffernan, 23, from Yelverton in Devon, who rode for Herbalife Leisure Lakes, was killed following a collision with a car during the 41st edition of the annual Severn Bridge Road Race, which was abandoned at the request of riders shortly after the incident.
Avon and Somerset police have since issued a witness appeal and are particularly keen to speak to anyone that was filming the race. The Collision Investigation Unit can be contacted by phone b calling 101 or online at this address.
Drake added: "We are working with the Police and all those involved to understand the circumstances behind this tragic incident to help inform our continued work to safeguard our members.
"We take very seriously our responsibility to make racing on the roads as safe as possible for everyone and we will continue to work with our members, volunteers, race organisers and the authorities to protect those who take part in our sport."
Following Heffernan's death, a petition has been launched on the Government’s ePetition website to give the National Escort Group (NEG) powers to stop traffic during an event.
The NEG was set up to provide an accredited pool of motorcyclists able to help provide safety assistance on cycling events held on the public highway.
According to the British Cycling website, “NEG members may be requested to assist with a cycling road race, either working with police motorcyclists in providing a safe route for competitors, or operating where there is no police cover by assisting with the direction of the race, and complementing static marshals.”
Its members have no power to stop and direct traffic however, other than in Wales where the situation is different due to Welsh Cycling having secured accreditation under the The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS), established by the Police Reform Act 2002.
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.