The HSBC UK Cyclo-cross National Trophy Series returns this weekend, marking the first such event in any discipline since British Cycling suspended racing in March – and as a result, the round in Westmorland will be used as a test event as the domestic sport adapts to the demands of the post-COVID era.
Held at the Westmorland County Showground on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October, safety features drawn up by British Cycling in partnership with event organiser Dave Haygarth, and approbved by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, include:
British Cycling Head of Sport and Major Events, Jonathan Day, said: “This will be our first national series event from any discipline since last December, and we are enormously thankful to the event organiser, commissaires, volunteers and Cyclo-cross Commission members who have offered invaluable support over recent weeks.
“Many features of the discipline, such as the dynamics of the racing, event location and duration mean that we are able to deliver most of the racing with limited adaptations.
“We know that the dynamics of cyclo-cross racing differ from disciplines such as road racing in that soon after the start riders are lined out in single file and spend much of the race in small groups, riding wheel to wheel, spaced out across the whole course.
“We have worked with the organiser to ensure that they comply with government guidelines and keep all attendees safe.
“I am sure that riders will be understanding and take the changes on board – as they have done across the disciplines since we lifted the suspension of racing last month.”
He continued: “This weekend’s event will be a really valuable learning experience for us, which will support our planning for the remainder of the cyclo-cross season as well as our full calendar of events across the disciplines in 2021.
“We know that everyone in our sport is keen to return to action but in a way which sensibly manages the risks. As such we are constantly reviewing our guidance to ensure that we are in a position to move on to the next stage of the process set out in The Way Forward [British Cycling’s document outlining a roadmap for a return of activities] as soon as the government guidelines allow.”
The second round of the series is scheduled for Kent’s Cyclopark from 7 - 8 November, with round three taking place in York from 12 - 13 December.
British Cycling added that rounds planned for Derby next month and Taunton in November have been cancelled at the request of the organisers but said it hopes the national series can be raced at those venues in the future.
Meanwhile, the 2021 National Cyclo-cross Championships is scheduled to take place in Crawley from 9 - 10 January.
Dave Haygarth, the organiser of this weekend’s event, said: “It’s been a really busy few months’ planning. Working within guidelines is what we event organisers do but dealing with the changing situation with the pandemic has been a challenge.
“However, the alternative would have been to given in and I’m delighted we’ve been able to continue working on the event for everyone passionate about cyclo-cross.
“I, and all the volunteers involved, do this because we love the sport – simple as that. Dealing with COVID-19 has just meant that we have to work harder to make events like this as safe as possible and it’s come together so well.
“Our friends at British Cycling have been such great support in that, and along with the local event sponsors and helpers, there is a great sense of pride,” he added. “It’s a small beacon of hope – bringing back competitive sport into the ’new normal’, and learning safe and sensible ways to adapt.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.