This article was updated at 12:51pm on Tuesday 17th May following a statement from RideLondon.
RideLondon will not have a safety car setting a 22mph speed limit at the head of the event after all...
In a statement released on social media this lunchtime, the organisers admitted the 22mph information was "stated incorrectly" and confirmed the "event safety car would travel at a pace determined by the conditions and what is happening on the road".
— RideLondon (@RideLondon) May 17, 2022
The apology comes after several days of heavy criticism from participants, disappointed by the pace limit, which many feared would see long tailbacks behind the lead car, and potentially dangerous scenes if faster riders opted to start later to ride at 22mph+ alongside less experienced entrants.
Last night, RideLondon's official Twitter account said the decision to implement a safety car setting a 22mph pace limit at the head of this year's event was "to ensure the safety of our participants". However, the event's same account has since backtracked on this, insisting the race guide included an "error".
Yesterday, we reported the news that entrants to the sportive, which will debut its new Essex route on Sunday 29 May, had been left disappointed after the race guide published over the weekend included news of the safety car.
Following much criticism and debate as word spread on social media yesterday, RideLondon addressed the decision in a now-deleted reply last night.
If anything, the explanation prompted even more questions and frustration from riders with places in next weekend's event.
One asked: "Could you let me know how making riders in the first wave slow to 22mph, thus causing riders in earlier waves to bunch up behind them into a group of riders (many inexperienced in large groups) numbering many thousands is likely to be 'safer'?
"I regularly ride solo at 23mph for 100 miles. As do lots of others entered in the sportive. Every year previously, on a much lumpier course, thousands of people finished the ride safely with an average speed well in excess of 22mph.
"I sincerely hope the answer here is not 'every wave will have a safety car in front of it'."
Just to check this. You are running a closed road cycle event, where the speed limit on cyclists is slower than the speed limit on days when roads aren't closed. For 'their' safety....
— Mark Oliver (@mroli74) May 16, 2022
The safety car will increase risk. This is a fast course and many can go 22mph+. There will be a big bunch behind the car or strategically taking a later wave to weave through the slower riders. The risk sits with slower less skilled riders, which hasn’t been addressed. Shambles
— David Shannon (@HonkingDave) May 17, 2022
Another said the decision would, in fact, "endanger participants" and would "push faster riders back in the waves" meaning "you will have large chaingangs forming at speeds of over 25mph in the later waves going past slower riders".
The participant who asked the initial question to RideLondon was also left unsatisfied by the explanation.
"None of this explains the 22mph limit, I'm afraid. You've got this one wrong. Why wasn't the limit clearly advertised during the entry process? And why did you ask people to estimate finishing times which would involve travelling at speeds in excess of the 22mph limit?" they said.
Yesterday, we heard from several riders who reported they had been asked their average speed target when signing up for the event. Riders were reportedly able to put down speeds in excess of 22mph, which some feel was disingenuous considering, having paid, they may no longer be able to ride at their target speed.
On Surrey route, fastest avg speed was 26mph. Essex will be a bit quicker. It is the specification of the lead car doing 22mph that is raising concerns, not the existence of the car
— PeteB (@Commuter76) May 16, 2022
After all of that, RideLondon is seemingly back to what many believed they signed up for...
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.