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"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 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 "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."

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

 "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".

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. has contacted British Cycling for comment.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago

Many many problems with no sticky plaster solutions. 

I said this back when poor Junior died at the Severn Bridge, the early season Nat B races are too big, too important for the level of race that they are.

Full fields of 80 riders, a large percentage of which are riders are youngsters looking to make it in the sport, riding for sponsored teams / clubs who are under huge pressure to perform. This does not work well with a volunteer led, grass-roots level race, likely on courses that, as mentioned already, may not have been risk-assessed for a number of years. 

If we are to remain on open roads, field sizes must be reduced for these lower level events, and courses found that can support open road racing. 

muhasib replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
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If you do reduce the entry size does that make the revenue situation worse with less entry fees? Possibly some set up costs are fixed so not a realistic choice for race organisers to decide on.

Jimmy Ray Will replied to muhasib | 1 year ago
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And that's the rub hey? 

80 riders fields are hard to secure (unless its a Nat B road race in March), and hard to safely manage. 60 rider fields are easier to fill and safely manage, but fail to generate sufficient funds to finance the race. 

But, if you dig into the math on this a bit...

80x £30 = £2,400

60x £30 = £1,800

Average road race is ~£2,000 to run on a shoestring (no prize money). 

So... 60x £35 = £2,100 suddenly makes an event viable, if maybe not very glamourous. If you are paying £30, is £5 going to break you? Over a season of road races that less than £100 difference. 

Then you have the additional element of the event sponsor. 20 years ago when I started racing, most road races included a little race guide. This was generally printed on a few sheets of A4 paper, sometimes of decent quality, but generally black and white, grainy and awful. Crucially however in many of these guides were little adverts from sponsors. These tended to be for the businesses of organising club members who will have likely paid no more than £50 each, or provided some prizes for the pleasure of appearing. 

Reach out to your members / network, find six sponsors, and you've made up any shortfall between 60 and 80 riders. 

I'd suggest its probably easier to find six nominal sponsors than it is to find extra 20 riders. It's totally up to the organiser how they finance their event, its only recently that the 100% entry-funded has become the norm.

mrmusette | 1 year ago

This is really awful to hear about, I saw a video on instagram recently of the Perfs road race and a car was coming towards the peloton on a chicane and the motorbikes had done such a bad job at stopping the car that riders had to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting it. Honestly, how is it so damn difficult to find some country lanes and close off a little circuit for 3 hours on a Sunday morning. Obviously doesn't help that the nature of the course leads to the whole bunch riding on the wrong side of the road as pictured...
Anyway the point is that BC don't seem to be learning from their experiences and making future races safer, if they had perhaps this incident may have been avoided.

Velovoyeur replied to mrmusette | 1 year ago

It doesnt help that riders do not follow guidance or instructions. You could increase race safety tenfold but if riders continue to behave recklessly by riding on the opposite carriageway there will continue to be incidents.

Backladder replied to Velovoyeur | 1 year ago
1 like

Easier said than done, there are always situations in a bunch where the speed at the front slows suddenly and the rear closes up and spreads out to avoid crashing into the other riders, Commissaires can forbid it all they like but it won't stop it happening, the best option is to try to make sure that it can be done safely by rolling road closures with motorbikes and minimising on course parking but it is never going to be risk free..

Legin | 1 year ago

Brammeiers' comments are probably factually correct but the tone isn't acceptable.

The situation is that "organised" clubs were in decline before the pandemic and the that decline has accelerated since. Yet I see many "cycling groups" forming where the organisation is through social media. They don't have a traditional club structure, written rules or regulations, their members ride bikes, they don't organise races, they don't marshal at events, the traditional approach to cycling isn't even on their radar.

The difficulty is that from Sport England down the governing bodies are measured and funded on metrics that are no longer fit for purpose. So British Cycling are caught between a rock and hard place, they don't have the funding to support races, they are pretty much dependant on clubs and volunteers to do that. They also have a remit to be more inclusive, which is absolutely correct, so there is a lot of focus on broadening the base of cycling to provide opportunities to children and young people from deprived areas (and we have plenty of those in this country) and this should drive greater numbers into the talent programmes that have been in place for many years.

So if Road Racing is to thrive the sport needs to support the traditional club structures where it can, encourage more volunteering from the "new" breed of cycling groups and encourage the sponsored teams to contribute a bit more on the race organisation front.

Although a member I am no fan of BC, I think parts of their culture stink, but one has to recognise they are juggling many balls in the air, many of which are not of their choosing. BC are and we need to encourage more volunteering (particularly younger volunteers), BC need to be more open with the membership about the challenges faced and their needs to be less, "what are they doing for us?" and more "what can we do for them?".

It won't make anyone feel better but all sports seem to be facing these challenges.

Velovoyeur | 1 year ago

It is always saddening to hear that a competitor has sustained severe injuries in any cycling event. I hope he makes a speedy recovery and returns to racing soon. 

There are multiple aspects to consider when unpicking an event such as this. At this stage not all are made clear in this article. However, as a former racer organiser, I can say that many riders (and DSs) complain about the price of race entries and are equally quick to complain about race safety but fail to realise that the safety and standard of event promotion they want is getting difficult to achieve at the entry fee they are happy to pay. Additionally, people are no longer prepared to volunteer for free. That is indicative of the current economic climate. Hence, a lot of organisers struggle to break even or make a loss. It is not for an organiser to subsidise their event so that riders can race their bikes for cheap entries.

Roads in the UK are more crowded than ever and, unlike on the continent, cyclists are percieved as an inconvenience. I am sure it is possible to put on good events but that will come with a related increase in cost which should be paid for by participants; not organisers or the governing body. The role of the governing body, to my mind, is to represent and facilitate the sport to take place (legally and safely) and ensure that everyone involved (participants, volunteers, organisers) is covered. BC have made great efforts to do this. This is a difficult time for racing on the UKs roads and as the comment says "it is not sustainable". Everyone, including riders, have to do their bit. As a sport we need to pull together or face a future on closed road circuits. 

Backladder replied to Velovoyeur | 1 year ago

I've just had a quick look at the BC website to check and most races seem to be about the £30 mark, I think that riders, most of whom have paid several thousands of pounds for a bike and other kit, are being unrealistic and that the current prices are excellent value for money. Many road race circuits have already been lost due to risk assessments and without further investment in safety equipment and marshalls we could lose many more, I think it is time the organisers stood up and said we need to raise the entry fees!

dubwise | 1 year ago

Brammeier's response sums up BC.

Jimmy Ray Will replied to dubwise | 1 year ago

Does it really?

I think it fairly accurately sums up the thoughts of many on the volunteering end of facilitating cycle sport. 

However, whilst the existence of teams like Stolen Goat's really are causing significant short and long term problems, the reality is their existence is filling a hole in the current structure, not creating it as such.  

If cycling clubs fulfilled their competitive members needs, they wouldn't all run off as soon as a free jersey is waved in front of them. I was having this discussion with my own club recently... you get the club members that your club services cater for.

Don't support racing / racing members, your racing members will all leave. It's that simple. With no racing members, why organise races? It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

It's also not helped by so many clubs offering fantastic youth and junior development programmes. 'Support the next generation' they say, however at 18, you are suddenly expected to pick up the reins and support yourself. It's only natural, having been looked after since first stepping on a bike, these young competitors look for avenues to continue the gravy chain. 

Miller | 1 year ago

I belong to a fairly large traditional club. We used to put on a road race but haven't done so in at least 5 years. I'm not criticising my club on this at all: I think the organisational load of putting a race on open public roads has got away from the capabilities of a once-a-year volunteer group. The possibilities of chaos and aggro are just too intense.

clayfit | 1 year ago

British Cycling are far more concerned about the culture wars than cycling.  Well past their sell-by date.

Sadoldsamurai replied to clayfit | 1 year ago

I think your comment is unfair. I accept as an ex BC member that BC is mainly interested in cycling's sporting arm, in fact that's the reason I now subscribe to 'the other' major cycling organisation. However we have to accept that without BCs involvement competitive cycling in the UK would probably vanish, and as with football, cricket etc. our national performance in big international events relies in the long term on a steady flow of young athletes who come up through the local competetive clubs. These elite athletes at the top of the pinnacle act as role models, and encourage us mere mortals to give cycling a try and some of us, stick with cycling and become fitter, happier folk.
I'm not sure how we deal with the conflict between racing and public road use. The Tour of Britain closes roads but it also demonstratively brings in spenders to wherever it is run. Amateur events just don't have that pull, and so closing roads just isn't an option. However to claim BC is beyond it's sell by date without suggesting an alternative isn't really fair.

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