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Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome call for government support for young riders in wake of Brexit

Twelve riders signed an open letter asking the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden for more support for talented young athletes.

Geraint Thomas, Lizzie Deignan and Chris Froome are calling for the UK government to 'urgently' protect the future of promising young cyclists as riders continue to face severe disruption in the wake of Brexit. 

Twelve riders signed an open letter asking the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden for more support for talented young athletes.

All the cyclists who signed are set to take to the start line this weekend at the Tour and La Course.  

They are: Anna Christian, Dani Christmas, Lizzie Deignan, Mark Donovan, Chris Froome, Lizzie Holden, Joss Lowden, Dan McLay, Connor Swift, Geraint Thomas, Alice Towers and Fred Wright. 

For the past few decades British riders have made their mark in the cycling by racing for amateur teams on the continent, with many receiving invaluable financial support from organisations such as the Dave Rayner Fund. 

Following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, visitors to EU nations are now limited to a stay of 90 days in a 180-day period, with riders seeing offers to race for teams withdrawn as a result of the changes.

The riders have called on the Government to investigate the possibility of a resolution in time for the start of the 2022 season, which would enable amateur athletes to live and race on the continent for extended periods.

> British riders may be unable to race in Europe under new Brexit rules

In the letter, they write: “While each of us has taken a different journey through our sport, what is clear to all of us is that we would not have made it this far without the intensity of regular top-level racing and the ability to test our limits in unfamiliar settings.

"We write today because we fear that same road to success for today’s young British riders is arguably more challenging than ever, and risks being wiped out altogether for most.

"We are the fortunate ones, with professional contracts with top tier teams, but if we had experienced the current restrictions on visa free residency early in our careers, we might not have achieved that privileged position.

“The impact of Covid-19 across Europe has masked the problem in 2021, due to the subsequent restrictions in place on travel across borders. We fear that the absence of a robust solution by 2022 – whether in the form of an amateur sportspersons visa or other agreement – will see many riders lose the opportunity to gain such critical experience. We know that sport is not the only industry affected and we don’t expect sportspeople to jump the queue for Government support, but we do ask for dialogue.

“You may ask why these riders cannot find such high-level racing opportunities closer to home. While it is true that our country plays host to many excellent and storied events, the difficulty of securing the necessary local permissions for racing on Britain’s busy roads means that many have sadly been lost.

“While British Cycling is working hard to address the challenges ahead, to make a real difference we need your support to urgently revisit the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations. This will enable us to empower more volunteer race marshals and review police charging, to make British races secure and financially viable in the future.

“As a cycling nation we have come an incredibly long way over recent decades, and each of us is proud of the role we have played in flying the flag for Great Britain across the world. However, we also believe that it is our duty to fight to give the riders of tomorrow the same opportunities which we have so enjoyed and benefited from – and to ensure that the sight of a British rider on the top step of the podium continues to be a familiar one for future generations.”

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TheBillder | 2 years ago

Wouldn't an alternative be to try to get flexibility for trips to the EU - changing rules rather than resurrecting better racing in the UK, which didn't noticeably produce lots of top riders in the 20th century?

We don't have enough agricultural workers or truck drivers as we don't allow enough in from the EU. Our musicians and cyclists are missing opportunities to work or compete in the EU in return. Using the "easiest ever trade deal", shouldn't this be fixable?

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