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Don’t take your bike to the cyclocross! World Cup organiser bans fans’ bikes from course “for safety reasons” (but don’t worry, you can park your car nearby)

The organisers of this weekend’s Benidorm round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup say there is “no designated area to park or store” bikes at the course

It’s fair to say that Benidorm, and the rest of the Costa Blanca, has firmly established itself as one of the most popular go-to spots for both pro riders and cyclo-tourists in search of some warm winter sun (and the possibility of wearing shorts in January), friendly roads, and challenging terrain as they build towards the new racing season.

But this weekend, for one day only, the much-maligned Spanish resort and winter cycling haven becomes the home of a sport much more accustomed to the freezing temperatures and muddy fields of northern Europe, as 10,000-plus cyclocross fans flock to Benidorm to witness the last off-road head-to-head of the season between world champion Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, and Tom Pidcock, at round 13 of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup.

However, if you’re a cyclist who’s spent the past few days getting in some warm weather miles and is planning to ride your bike to Benidorm’s sandy, town centre course to catch some of the sport’s biggest stars in action, take note – spectators’ bikes are banned from the circuit, the event’s organisers have said.

According to the official Benidorm World Cup race’s Spectator’s Guide – first spotted by Single Track World – bikes are not permitted inside the venue for “safety reasons”, the organisers say.

“There won’t be a designated area to park or store them. Only accredited people can access by bike,” the FAQs continue.

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While cycling to the World Cup round in Benidorm may not be possible, and with no alternative bike parking measures included on the event’s website, the organisers were at least careful to note where motorists could park their cars before heading to the race.

The FAQs page says “you may park in any of the free parking sites available in Benidorm”, and the organisers have even provided links and helpful tips for drivers seeking the closest possible parking space to the circuit for their car or camper van.

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This seemingly car-centric approach adopted by the organisers in Benidorm stands in stark contrast to previous rounds of this year’s UCI Cyclocross World Cup.

At November’s Dublin round, for example, fans were encouraged to cycle to the Sport Ireland Campus, where bike parking facilities were available. Car parking, meanwhile, was not permitted inside the venue, with a shuttle service instead provided for fans from a nearby park and ride.

And at last year’s world championships in Hoogerheide – the scene of Van der Poel’s dramatic sprint victory over eternal rival Van Aert – while car parking areas were set aside by the organisers, cyclists were also well-catered for, with several bike parking spaces advertised near the course and the venue’s entrances.

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The situation in Benidorm also seems to fly in the face of the UCI’s own guidelines for organising events. According to the governing body’s sustainability guidelines and ‘travel and transport checklist’, race organisers should “promote the use of public transport and cycling rather than personal vehicle use”.

The checklist also advises organisers to provide “well located and secured parking facilities for bicycles”, while making “walking and cycling to the event attractive by creating maps of safe routes to the location, venue, hotels, and town centres or by offering secure bike-parking”.

In any case, the almost sold-out crowd that will converge on Benidorm this weekend will at least be treated to some spectacular racing, courtesy of a fast, dry course and arguably the most stacked field cyclocross has had to offer this season, featuring a star-studded cast of Van der Poel, Van Empel, Pieterse, Van Aert, Brand, and Pidcock.

As long as they don’t plan on actually riding their bike to the bike race, that is.

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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15 comments

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IanGlasgow | 4 months ago
5 likes

Meanwhile, in The Netherlands they banned cars from the F1 GP and encouraged cycling (you could cycle from the park n ride).

https://dutchgp.com/en/transport/car-motorcycle/

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don simon fbpe replied to IanGlasgow | 4 months ago
0 likes

You drive to the park and ride, catch a bus then ride the last couple of hundred metres? Doesn't really seem to be the solution that it's being marketed as.

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don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
1 like

Public transport is excellent in Spain, the circuit appears to be a city centre location, safe cycle storage is going to be some distance away from the course. Not a great decision, but I can understand it. I'd be happy for someone to propose the location of bike storage in such a congested area.

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IanGlasgow replied to don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
4 likes

If they're directing people to car parks, it's not hard to add bike parking there.

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Rendel Harris replied to don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
4 likes

The course is in the middle of a massive park with loads of space for a bike park facility, it's clearly a lack of will, not space. As ever, if there's space for car parking there's space for bike parking, it's just a question of what is prioritised.

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Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
8 likes

Ah, memories of the 2012 Olympics, was on chemo drugs which made it impossible to cycle down to Box Hill to see the road race, never mind, I'll get the train and cycle from the station..."Bicycles are banned on all trains serving all Olympic venues for the duration of the Games." Brilliant.

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don simon fbpe replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
0 likes

Indeed, using public transport. I would put a hefty chunk of cash on the car prk being full of competitors' campervans. Where should they go?

EDIT: I imagine that the number of peoople wanting to ride there will be minimal, it's one day to leave the bike at home and enjoy the event. It's just one day.

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chrisonabike replied to don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
4 likes
don simon fbpe wrote:

EDIT: I imagine that the number of peoople wanting to ride there will be minimal, it's one day to leave the bike at home and enjoy the event. It's just one day.

I agree that's sensible, not a biggie, pick your battles etc. ... but the thing is "it's just one day" every day. "Change starts tomorrow" is perpetually true.

If we can't expect a few people to want to cycle to a cycling event...

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don simon fbpe replied to chrisonabike | 4 months ago
2 likes

Unfortunately, I see it more like the fella having a whinge about closed road racing because he's prevented from getting out to buy the Daily Mail type. Spain has a huge following for ciclocross, Spain is making huge inroads into making cycling more acceptable as a mainstream form of transport. 15 years ago I was just about the only person riding around Madrid and considered a little crazy, now I believe there is civilised cycle lane network being developed and hundreds making daily bike journeys. A recent trip to Gijon illustrated the move towards prioritising cycling. I'd say it's more advanced than UK as cyclepaths are using old traffic lanes. The fact that the World cup is in Spain is a huge nod to the popularity of ciclocross across the country. I really can't see a problem, UCI has been satisfied by the provision of public transport, there is limited parking which will be used by motorhomes.

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Rendel Harris replied to don simon fbpe | 3 months ago
1 like

don simon fbpe wrote:

I really can't see a problem, UCI has been satisfied by the provision of public transport, there is limited parking which will be used by motorhomes.

Actually, having watched the race with great enjoyment this afternoon, there were at least three big empty tarmacked spaces around the course that could easily have been used as cycle parks.

don simon wrote:

I imagine that the number of people wanting to ride there will be minimal

Why? As you said yourself, cycling is hugely popular in Spain and I know from riding around that neck of the woods (though thankfully never in Benidorm itself) that there is a massive club cycling scene in the region, I'm sure very significant numbers of cyclists would have liked to ride their bikes from 10, 20 or 30km away to watch the race if they'd been permitted. If you doubt that, take a look at the Vuelta and see how many cyclists line the course.

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don simon fbpe replied to Rendel Harris | 3 months ago
0 likes

I guess those sections you mentioned were left unused for a reason, maybe ambulance access, I don't know. I'm pretty sure the event organisers are anti-cyclist. I would suggest that they took a gamble that few people would want to ride, perhaps based on experience, and judging by comments from friends no one has noticed the lack of bike parking. It seems to be a bigger problem for the english than for the Spanish.

I would also go the other way and say that significant numbers of cyclists possibly wouldn't mind taking the aforementioned excellent public transport (which ticks a UCI box) and could be seen at events like Casa de Campo MTB World Cup races where many spectators arrive by bike, but significantly more by public transport. La Vuelta is a bit of a different animal as far as attendance and access by public transport goes, could you let me know how I could get to take a look at it? Is it televised? I have seen very few Spanish races, La Vuelta excluded, where spectators cycle en masse.

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marmotte27 | 4 months ago
4 likes

Wtaf?!
Well, probably one more confirmation of my growing conviction that cycling competitions (or in fact any competition) are actually part of the problem, not of the solution...
The sooner they end, the better probably.

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Sredlums replied to marmotte27 | 4 months ago
3 likes

Cycling competitions are not meant to be a solution.
They are, like all sporting events, just that: a sporting event.

A swimming championship is not intended to stop people from drowning. It's a contest to see who's fastest.
If people happen to get inspired by an event, and take up that sport, or do it more often, that's great, but that's not the intention, it's just a welcome side effect.

Many sporting events could and should definately do better in many aspects, sure, but to get rid of them al together for that reason really makes no sense.

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IanGlasgow replied to Sredlums | 4 months ago
1 like

Sredlums wrote:

If people happen to get inspired by an event, and take up that sport, or do it more often, that's great, but that's not the intention, it's just a welcome side effect.

While that's true for commercially independent sports, it's not for events subsidised by governments or local authorities. Events like the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 and 2022 Commonwwealth Games were sold to us as events with a legacy. Much of that legacy was about increased participation in sport resulting in a healthier population.

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Sredlums replied to IanGlasgow | 3 months ago
0 likes

That's what they say, yes, to sell it to the people (the voters, to be more precise). But it's nonsense, they know it, we know it, everybody knows it.
It's a sporting event, and some politicians use it to boost their own ego.

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