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Cyclists blast last-minute “crude patch-up” of potholes ahead of Cycling World Championships, as Tadej Pogačar’s team reportedly say Scottish roads are “worst they’d ever seen”

An intensive repair programme is currently underway on sections of the road race and time trial courses, but some local cyclists have branded it “a mess”

With fewer than 40 days to go until the UCI Cycling World Championships gets underway in Scotland, the state of the roads which will play host to the elite men’s and women’s races continues to be a source of frustration and concern for local cyclists, who have accused the local authorities of carrying out a “crude patch-up” on the crumbling infrastructure.

Earlier this year, pictures taken by a road.cc reader, showing numerous large potholes and patched sections of tarmac along the route of the road races – which form part of this year’s inaugural ‘combined’, multi-disciplinary world cycling championships – prompted the cyclist to suggest that this year’s event “may be remembered for all the wrong reasons”.

Meanwhile, last month another Scottish cyclist expressed concerns about the state of the course after snapping his saddle thanks to the poor road surface on the Crow Road, in Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire, which will feature during the early part of the elite men’s, elite women’s, and U23 men’s road races, before the riders reach the finishing circuits in Glasgow.

The Daily Record has reported today that, following these outcries, an “intensive” repair programme is now underway to ensure that the roads are up to scratch for the best riders in the world come early August.

However, these efforts have been condemned by local cyclists as a purely cosmetic job and a “crude patch-up”, with photos published by the newspaper showing that despite the laying of fresh tarmac on the Crow Road, the climb remains littered with potholes.

One cyclist even claimed that members of staff involved with the Slovenian team – on a reconnaissance trip ahead of the race for one of the pre-race favourites, Tadej Pogačar – told him that they were the worst roads they’d ever seen for a world championships course.

2023 World Championships Glasgow road race potholes (Liam McReanan)

> Cyclist raises alarm over "dangerous" potholes on 2023 World Championships road race routes

Lennoxtown-based Drew Wilson, who represented Scotland at three Commonwealth Games in the 1980s and 1990s, told the Daily Record that the late repairs were not enough to ensure that the course was up to scratch.

Wilson, who runs a repair shop and bike fitting service at the foot of the Crow Road, said: “This isn’t a proper fix, it’s a crude patch-up. It’s notable that Lennoxtown Main Street, which is on the course, is still a mess.

“What we are seeing is a weird tapestry of repaired tarmac, often on top of previous repairs, which will no doubt crumble again within a few years.

“Scotland is actually becoming a very attractive place to ride a bike because places like the Crow Road have spectacular, world class scenery.

“But for all the lip service, we have done little to create the kind of smooth, safe roads, or the cycle lanes they have in Europe, where cycling has exploded as a result.”

Wilson also said that the Team Slovenia staff members who visited his shop a few weeks ago told him “they’d never seen roads as bad as these for any world championships”.

“That’s a bit of an indictment on our roads and it’s an embarrassment to Scotland,” he said.

“I hope the TV cameras pick up all the good bits and I hope there’s no crashes that are caused by potholes.”

> "Very poor state": Riding at race speeds on Scotland's bumpy and uneven World Championship route led to cyclist snapping his saddle

Another local cyclist, Stevie Anderson, said that the last-minute rush to cover potholes on the route underlines the generally dangerous nature of Scotland’s roads.

“For Scottish riders, the potholes are so bad they get talked about more than the weather,” the Glasgow Nightingale CC member said.

“Most cyclists are really looking forward to the event, which is great for Scotland, and it’s good that the Crow Road is getting a bit of a makeover.

“But there are thousands of cyclists attracted to that road and others nearby every week, so why are councils letting the roads crumble into such a dangerous state in the first place?”

> Major cycle lane closures during works a "death trap", according to cyclist who fears "matter of time before serious accident"

Responding to the concerns, a Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “No specific funding has been set aside for road repairs ahead of our hosting of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

“If there is remedial carriage repair work to be carried out, or potholes identified on the route before the championships, they will be fixed as part of the council’s business as usual roads maintenance.”

Meanwhile, Stirling Council said: “All of the routes have been surveyed and we have already started to make the improvements required to our road network to ensure the safe running of the individual time trials and road races that pass through our area.

“The improvements form part of a £7.5million programme to improve the council’s roads infrastructure over the current financial year.”

> Angry residents who slammed “ridiculous” traffic restrictions ahead of UCI Cycling World Championships secure compromise from council

However, East Dunbartonshire Council’s deputy chief executive Ann Davie said that the organisers of the upcoming world championships “have revisited the route and are satisfied with the road surface”.

The council’s appraisal is markedly different to that of Scottish cyclist Alan Myles, who snapped his saddle rail while riding on the Crow Road in May.

“It is in a very poor state and simply gets a hand-laid repair each time,” Myles told road.cc. “I normally ride round all of the mess, but thought I’d conduct an experiment this morning, so did a seated sprint over the repairs and the rail gave way.

“The council re-laid the road just round the corner so it looks highly unlikely this bit will get done before the championships as they would have done it at the same time, because the road had to be closed for it.”

> UCI Cycling World Championships could be disrupted by council strikes, union warns

As well as the concerns over the poor road surface, the build-up to this summer’s UCI Cycling World Championships returning to UK soil – the first time the annual world championships of most cycling disciplines will be held simultaneously in one location – has not been without concerns for the smooth running of the 11-day-long event.

Earlier this month, we reported that the championships could be hit by council strike action, with a union warning that the event could be “under threat of cancellation” unless a pay dispute with local authorities is resolved.

Releasing a statement warning that major events such as the world championships could be impacted in the case of strike action, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said the five percent pay rise offer, rejected by its members, needs to be “significantly improved” as the trade union is “actively preparing” to ballot its local government membership on strike action.

That same week, a group of residents in a Dumfries street, who complained that they were facing “unacceptable, impractical, and ridiculous” traffic restrictions during the para-cycling time trial events, secured a compromise from the council which will allow them to access the road by car on the days of the races.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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10 comments

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Robert m | 10 months ago
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It looks like there is movement in repairing / resurfacing part of the road race route

see :

https://www.roadworksscotland.org/?shared=b5558701-7c16-4022-9d43-8362b0...

search for B818 and then zoom out to see where repairs will happen. 
Work starts in most cases on the 18th and will last for 10 days and roads will be closed.  

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Robert m | 10 months ago
0 likes

It is now less than 4weeks to the elite road race and the roads along the route are still in a disgraceful state. I've ridden the Denny to Lennoxtown section over the Crow Road and the stretch along the Carron Reservoir is especially bad, with tons of bumpy patches, potholes and deep ruts. It's bad enough for a single rider or small group but utterly unsuitable for a peleton of elite riders flying along at speed. As far as I know the council (Stirling) is not planning to do anything.
Well, this does it's best to showcase Scotland to the world in a brutally honest way, a beautiful country with great cycle potential, marred by dreadful roads.

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Capt Sisko | 11 months ago
0 likes

"Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “No specific funding has been set aside for road repairs ahead of our hosting of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships."

What's that saying? Aah yes. Failing To Prepare Is Preparing To Fail. Glasgow and the other councils don't seem to have heard of that one.

Worth a quick read as well:-

https://www.glasgow.gov.uk/Councillorsandcommittees/viewSelectedDocument...

 

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Paul J | 11 months ago
1 like

The Crow is always bad, and I don't think it's been resurfaced properly since I left. If you know the descent, it's not a problem to pick your way past the bad patches. But.. it's less than ideal for a racing situation. Would advise the riders to recce the descent, preferably more than once.

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ike2112 | 11 months ago
3 likes

No surprise, I rode a bit of the route earlier in the year having never actually been over the crow road... It was horrendous, not just rough surface but huge trenches at the road seams; couldn't actually look at the view at all as I was petrified to look up or take a hand off the hoods.
Near the bottom there's a weird layered section that looks more like a bike skills exercise - it's a patch over a patch over a patch so there's 4 different heights of the road within about 5 metres, and it's about 1-1.5 metres across so unavoidable for a pack.
It is almost certainly the worst road, most dangerous descent I've ever been on.

Scottish councils however are committed to this policy of not resurfacing properly. They chuck down a dollop of tarmac if you're lucky - leaving what looks like a splat of black paint on the road, uneven to the rest. That's actually a better grade of repair than the now more common method of just chucking loose stone in the holes, a bit of tarmac if you're lucky, and then scatter the surface with loose stones - terrible for cars, may as well be marbles and tacks for cyclists.

I'd genuinely looked forward to riding the roads around the UCI courses late Aug once the pros had gone - I live right next to the route - having expected we would do as every host has done going back to Geelong over a decade ago and PROPERLY resurface the sketchy parts of the road.
The lasting legacy of hosting the worlds ought to be a gift of nice smooth roads for the locals and tourists that they apparently want to attract. Instead we'll be a laughing stock; I wouldn't be surprised if the riders neutralise the descent.

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Cugel | 11 months ago
4 likes

Living in NW England for a few decades, the ever-worsening condition of the roads - and the increasingly inept road mending - became a cause for concern. Club mates had more and more pothole falls, despite being very competant cyclists. Even driverists moaned about their broken suspension.

After 4+ years living in West Wales, on the Carmarthenshire/Ceredigion border, I've been very surprised at just how good the roads are here in comparison to elsewhere. Potholes exist but are so few that, once more, I feel safe gazing at the passing scenery now and then, rather than scanning the road ahead at all times for impending doom.

Some of the local Welsh roads get renewed surfaces (both smooth billiard table tarmac and the grippy-gravelled kind) as soon as a certain degree of deterioration has occured. Others are patched and patched and patched, as farm traffic or frost create areas of crumble. But the patching is perfek, as is the full-road surface renewal! No bumps or dips or gaping edges. Loose gravel is the only risk for a few weeks after a gravelling mend.

How come the local authorities of these parts of Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion can do so well with the roads when their coffers must be tiny compared to those of the aforementioned NW England and similar highly populated areas of mostly Broken Britain? Looking at the road mending crews, I suspect one major factor is that the Welsh menders are experienced and in possesion of a high work ethic, whereas in NW England the menders seemed to be cowboy firms driven by a least-cost but most-profit approach.

There are no doubt other factors at play, to cause such a vast chasm in the qualities of these road mending differentiations of district. Anyone have any troo facts on the causes of these differences?

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HarrogateSpa | 11 months ago
2 likes

Down with auto-play videos. Booo.

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eburtthebike | 11 months ago
7 likes

“worst they’d ever seen”?

They should come to the Forest of Dean, where the forest tracks are smoother than the roads.  Just another benefit of having the Transport Minister, Mark Harper, as our very own MP.

Speaking of him, I was at the plaque unveiling for the Wye Valley Greenway, where Mr Harper not only unveiled the plaque, he gave a rousing speech to the assembled volunteers, praising them for their work and extolling the virtues of cycling and walking.  Odd that he didn't mention that he'd just cut funding for them by 2/3rds.  Just banged off a letter to the Guardian about it, hope they print it.

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Rendel Harris replied to eburtthebike | 11 months ago
3 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

They should come to the Forest of Dean, where the forest tracks are smoother than the roads.  Just another benefit of having the Transport Minister, Mark Harper, as our very own  as MP.

You're not wrong, I love the Forest but last time I was there (2019) we took our mountainbikes and roadbikes intending to do a few road challenges (love the climb from Bigsweir up and over through Mork and Stowe then down to the Ostrich at Newland) and some trails but after one short run out on the roadbikes we stuck to the MTBs for the rest of the trip for both road and trails.

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eburtthebike replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
1 like
Rendel Harris wrote:

love the climb from Bigsweir up and over through Mork and Stowe then down to the Ostrich at Newland

Ah, the Ostrich!  Good pub.

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