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Two organisers' legal battle to hold a sportive at the same time

ITP Events Ltd and Lincoln Grand Prix both claim rights to the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive

Two companies are battling it out to hold a sportive on the same day, on overlapping routes starting and finishing in the same place.

ITP events and the organisers of the Lincoln Grand Prix both claim rights to a sportive held on the weekend of the Lincoln Grand Prix, on Saturday 14 May, but one will have to give way due to what is being described as the "physical impossibility"of them both being held together.

The annual Lincoln Grand Prix (GP) event is a 60 year old elite race, but the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive was started, and has been run, by a separate company, ITP Events Ltd., for five years. Now, however, the new Grand Prix organiser wants to bring the sportive under the same banner.

British Cycling calls for regulation of sportives after Yorkshire route clash (+ video)

Ian Penrose, Director of ITP Events Ltd, who have run the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive for five years, told the sportive was created independently of the GP and was part of ITP's portfolio of sportives as well as a way for the Lincoln Grand Prix to run the professional race, via a levy paid by sportive entry fees.

He said: "We have put a lot of investment into the event. I'm a small business, nobody's making a fortune but we have transferred quite a lot of profit out of the events each year to the Grand Prix."

He claims the rights to the sportive event are his, something the new organiser of the Lincoln Grand Prix contests. However, although solicitors are involved over who does own the rights, the decision over who can close the roads for a cycle event is ultimately up to the local council.

Penrose said: "These things are run on public highways but there is nothing that we can do to stop people from using the public highway and we wouldn't want to stop people using it. There's obviously a conversation to be had with the authorities on who uses what roads but we feel that we have got a strong case for prior use: we have used that route for five years and we are just carrying on business as usual."

Penrose says he has built up the sportive from scratch and is determined to keep running it.

"In the first few years we have done the hard miles, we have done the hard work and that is why we aren't going to give it up; we have built it up from literally nothing," he said.

Dan Ellmore, the new organiser of the Lincoln Grand Prix, says ITP's agreement was a verbal one made with former British Cycling president Ian Emmerson, who ran the event for more than half a century and who stepped down after the road national championships this year, held at the Lincoln GP. Now Ellmore is in charge, he is keen to bring the sportive under the Grand Prix umbrella, as part of the new Lincoln Festival of Cycling.

He said: "Lincoln Grand Prix is the name on the elite race, which is my event. All we have done is say [to ITP]: 'Thank you, and from 2016 your ride would be part of the Lincoln Grand Prix event'."

"Effectively the use of the word Lincoln Grand Prix was what the [sportive] levy was being paid for and without that association it would have just been an event in Lincoln."

Ellmore claims the only intellectual property right ITP holds is the route, and that though his route overlaps in places, and starts and finishes in the same place, the two are different. However, he says, the two events cannot both run together; one will have to move.

He said: "It is a physical impossibility for the two events to exist in the same time, same place, same day. One event will have to move and the professional cycle race connected to the Lincoln Festival of cycling weekend includes the Lincoln Sportive."

"Depending on the council, who decide on the road closures, and the venue, one will move because they can't be on the same ride on the same day."

He said: "If the ITP event goes ahead with the race on that day the whole weekend will have to move."

British Cycling has previously called for regulation and co-ordination of sportive events after clashes between two separate events occurred in Yorkshire last year.

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