British Cycling has said there are “particular challenges” to reintroducing mass-start cycling events as the country emerges from lockdown. The governing body has not seen fit to extend the suspension of racing – which is due to run until August 1 – but says some disciplines will come back before others, with sportives seemingly last in the queue.
On June 18, British Cycling lifted a suspension on club and group activity in England and published a six-step programme to resume all activities.
Regional racing and non-competitive events such as sportives were suspended until August 1 with international and national level races suspended until September 1.
In an update today, a spokesperson said the organisation did not believe there was a case to extend the suspension of regional-level racing as there are certain disciplines which may be in a position to return sooner than others.
The spokesperson said that future restrictions would still be expected to apply to group size, hygiene controls and social distancing, as well as on additional elements, such as travel.
“The disciplines and formats we believe could make the earliest return include BMX, cycle speedway, track, circuit racing, road time trials, cyclo-cross, and cross-country and gravity mountain biking.
“British Cycling staff are currently working with the respective discipline commissions and colleagues at Scottish Cycling and Welsh Cycling to produce a framework including guidelines and tools for the safe return of each discipline.”
Commenting specifically on road racing and sportives, they said: “We are keenly aware that road racing is the passion of a great number of our members.
“While we were able to reintroduce small club rides on June 18, we believe there are particular challenges when it comes to reintroducing this discipline as well as other mass-start events on the public highway, including sportives.
“These challenges include the impact on the communities whose roads we use, field sizes and the support required from emergency services. Therefore, it is likely that when mass start road events do return, they will do so first on closed circuits.”
It has also been announced that the British national championships in road, mountain biking, BMX and cycle speedway have all been cancelled for 2020.
British Cycling Integrity and Compliance Director, Rod Findlay, commented: “After several months of exploring alternatives and discussions with the relevant authorities, today we have made the difficult decision to formally cancel all national series and national championship events in the disciplines of road, cross country, downhill and 4X mountain biking, BMX and cycle speedway.
“This is not a decision we ever wanted to make however in the interests of providing clarity and certainty to our teams, riders and event organisers we believe it is the correct one. I’m pleased to say that the organisers who were to host events in 2020, will retain them for 2021.”
Current national champions will be permitted to continue wearing their respective national champions’ jerseys for another season.
Findlay added: “Our team is now working hard to lay the groundwork for resuming regional-level activity, and we remain hopeful that we will see some competitive racing next month.
“Plans for our winter programme are progressing well and though the past three months have been frustrating for all of us, I want to thank everybody involved in our sport for their patience and understanding in challenging circumstances. We can also now look forward to our national championships returning with strength in 2021.”