"Continuing as we are remains unsafe": Calls for British Cycling action as rider airlifted to hospital after collision with car during race
The National B-level Wally Gimber Trophy in East Sussex was stopped early on Sunday due to the incident, with one rider suffering a serious cut to his neck after crashing through the rear windscreen of the stationary vehicle
Teams and riders alike have called for safety improvements at races after a competitor was airlifted to hospital with a neck injury sustained in a crash with a car stopped on the course of the Dulwich Paragon Wally Gimber Trophy.
The National B race — one of the longest-running road races in the United Kingdom, having been held every year since 1960 except for 2020 — was called off after the incident on the second lap which saw "one rider hit the back of a stationary car" and sustain "serious injuries".
The race organisers said the event had been stopped following a "traffic incident", with the Ride Revolution team confirming to road.cc their rider had crashed through the vehicle's rear windscreen, suffering a serious cut to the neck which saw him rushed by air ambulance to King's College Hospital for emergency treatment.
Team owner and head coach Jake Hales told road.cc: "I don't want to use the term life-threatening but I did hear that thrown around. He had a really bad cut on his neck from when he went through the rear windscreen. Once they stemmed the blood flow, because that risk had gone, his injuries weren't so bad.
"He's there at the moment, they've sewed the vein or artery and then stitched it, he's just in hospital overnight being observed. He's optimistic he's going to be able to get out today or tomorrow. He had some stitches elsewhere, but no broken bones and no cause for concern once everything was under control."
Since yesterday several riders and teams have taken to social media to express concerns about the dangers of racing in the UK, with Hales saying he "definitely agrees" that British Cycling could do more to support clubs and organisers who host races.
"I've put races on in the past and we're trying to put some on this year," he explained. "You're putting a race on but it's an uphill battle to even get it across the line to run it without making a massive loss. The better you want to run it, the more it's going to cost, but you don't really get any help."
"It's fine when it's fine but as soon as something goes wrong the onus then falls on the organiser for not doing it well enough whereas really they are just volunteers that are trying to put a race on to support people."
We know there's much talk about the decline of the British road scene but today two of our guys returned from a National B road race both stating they felt that their lives were put in danger. What are you actually doing to manage this sport and protect us @BritishCycling
Echoing Hales's comments that everyone remains extremely grateful to the clubs and volunteers who continue to put races on, Foran CCC rider Tobias Dahlhaus suggested there needs to be "systematic change" and "paying £40 quid to end up colliding with cars on the open road is not at all sustainable".
Dahlhaus had been in the group chasing the breakaway "when we approached a stationary car in the middle of traffic-calming road infrastructure".
"On previous laps we needed to heavily brake through here as the convoy and motos were slowing, but on this lap it was a complete standstill resulting in us ducking either side of the car and one rider colliding with it," he told road.cc.
Lots of chat about UK cycling this week. Grateful to all organisers who are still putting on events but when rider safety is not accounted then it’s clear there needs to be systematic change.
Paying £40+ to end up colliding with cars on the open road is not at all sustainable.
"This is not the first time I have experienced needing to opt for a verge instead of a car, having had this situation occur in a previous National B in 2019. Whilst these are the worst occurrences, there are countless examples of incidents and many many more examples of near misses.
"Riding in the bunch on open roads does not feel safe. We do it because we want to race and are grateful to the clubs and volunteers who put these events on. 10 years ago someone lost their life in an incident like this, and we still race in the same environment as back then.
"Those who put on races do so to support the dwindling scene and are doing what they can to get races going. Is there however a need for greater support from the governing body to aid with the safety and running?
"Do races need risk assessments done annually instead of assuming a race is fine because it was 10 years ago? Do events need to be held at lower footfall times? Do they need to be held on shorter circuits with more marshalling control? There is a lot to work through but continuing as we are remains unsafe."
The Stolen Goat Race Team said there is "no finger pointing but there is a governing body appointed to manage our sport", with the team's boss then saying if circuit races' road surface and access by outside traffic "cannot be managed effectively it simply should not be used".
Former pro Matt Brammeier, now a senior road and track coach with British Cycling, replied to the team, claiming quite abruptly that "teams like yours are at the root of the problem".
In my humble opinion teams like yours are at the root of this problem. Traditional clubs are a thing of the past. Community is lost, volunteers are lost, organisers are lost. We have two options, support our club’s & volunteer or accept even bigger entry fees.
Responding to Brammeier, Stolen Goat Race Team said: "I may be misinterpreting your tweet but if small teams working hard to provide financial and product support to young riders are viewed as a problem there is more wrong with the sport than I thought. Tradition can act as a barrier and stifle progress. And for the record we often support races with neutral service and marshals."
Sunday's incident came at the end of a difficult week for the British domestic racing scene, with another team lost as UCI Continental outfit AT85, formerly WiV SunGod, collapsed due to sponsorship issues.
That news just months after Ribble Weldtite closed due to a shortfall in sponsorship, now leaving just Saint Piran and Trinity Racing as the only UK-based teams at Continental level.
road.cc has contacted British Cycling for comment.
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Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.
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