Halfords is to be the “Official Partner” to British Cycling's elite Premier Calendar Series in 2009 - the top level of road cycling competition for men in this country - which starts this weekend.
British Cycling is presenting the move as an extension of the organisation's existing relationship with Halford's – Nicole Cooke won Olympic gold and a world title riding one of Halford's range of Boardman bikes. Ironically Cooke announced last week that her new team would be riding Focus bikes – the German brand exclusively distributed in this country by Wiggle.
Team Halfords Bikehut will again be competing in the series with Rob Hayles, current National Champion, leading them.
British Cycling says that the partnership will provide extra funding for race organisers and will enable an overall prize fund to be established for the series. Halfords will also be working with British Cycling to target additional resources at all other levels of cycle sport too from grass roots up to elite level in a bid to increase participation – no word yet on whether these efforts will be co-ordinated with what Sky also wants to do with British Cycling to increase cycling participation, but certainly don't expect to see any Premier Calendar action on Sky just yet. It will be broadcast though, on Eurosport.
On another note Sky are also rumoured to be about to undertake a major revamp of the British Cycling website.
Commenting on the Premier Calendar Series partnership with Halfords, Jonny Clay, British Cycling’s cycle sport and membership director, said: “I’m delighted that we have Halfords as an official partner of the Premier Calendar Series. Thanks to Halfords we can improve the support we offer to race organisers – something which, in turn, will help us to raise the profile of the Premier Calendar Series and cycling in general in the UK.”
Given the current climate for sports sponsorship British Cycling can be said to have done well to get anybody to stump up money for the Premier Calendar Series – although the announcement couldn't have come much later, the first race in the series, the Bikeline 2 Day (around the town of Hope in Flintshire) is this weekend.
If you can't be there you can catch the action on Eurosport the following weekend (details below although transmission times are provisional). Eurosport will also have coverage of three more rounds of the series: The Tour of the Reservoir, The Girvan Stage Race and the East Midlands Classics.
Race Date Event Provisional TX
14-15 March Bikeline 2 Day Hope 21 March at 17:15 CET
29 March Tour of the Reservoir 5 April at 17:00 CET
11-13 April Girvan Stage Race 19 April at 17:00 CET
26 April East Midlands Classics 3 May at 20:30 CET
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.