It’s been a rough few months for the British road racing scene.
Last week, UCI Continental outfit AT85, formerly known as WiV SunGod, collapsed due to sponsorship issues, just months after Ribble Weldtite shut its doors, leaving Saint Piran and Trinity Racing as the only UK-based Continental teams.
Earlier in the week, the organisers of the elite-level Women’s Tour – a race won by Marianne Vos, Lizzie Deignan, and Elisa Longo Borghini – launched a crowdfunding campaign, in a bid to ensure that this year’s race goes ahead despite the event’s current sponsorship crisis.
> "Continuing as we are remains unsafe": Calls for British Cycling action as rider airlifted to hospital after collision with car during race
Things haven’t been much rosier at grassroots level, either – yesterday, we reported that a rider was airlifted to hospital with a serious neck injury after he crashed through the rear windscreen of a stopped car during a National B race in East Sussex.
That terrifying incident has prompted a widespread debate about the dangers of racing in the UK at the moment, what British Cycling can do to help support clubs and organisers, and the future of British road racing in general.
In response to yesterday’s story, road.cc reader Martin, a 75-year-old cyclist, ex-racer, and longstanding club member, got in touch to share his views on the current climate within British cycling.
Here’s what he had to say:
The cover/marshalling etc needed nowadays on our busy roads is probably unsustainable for most clubs.
Many younger club members are sadly reluctant at best to help run any event, and time trials too suffer from this malady. Many riders just want to ride, or play at racing on club runs it seems.
The off-road and cyclocross events, away from the traffic, seem to be the way forward, with parents of youngsters happy, being away from traffic risks. Huge fields in CX events prove their popularity.
Circuit races, where circuits can be found, help, but sadly, open road events are likely to die out – not due to British Cycling’s failings, but due to the change in traditional cycling clubs.
Race teams, instead of multi-generational membership clubs, cannot offer the depth of experience and support to help organisers.
The organisers, as a consequence, fearing blame if disaster strikes, give up the unequal struggle. More risk assessments won’t always help. They just make the already onerous job more difficult.
What do you think? Do you agree with Martin?
Is British road racing “likely to die out”?
Are off-road events, away from our increasingly busy roads, the future of the British racing scene?
And is the decline of the traditional club structure, with its emphasis on volunteering, to blame for the current crisis?
Let us know in the comments…