Editorial: Should British Cycling protect its National Series events?

Should the London Nocturne go ahead even though there is a National Series RR in the North of the country well over 200 miles north the next day?

2011, London Nocturne and Hannah Barnes is about to win the Women’s race ahead of a World Champion to be, Lucy Garner, and a World Class Cyclo-Cross rider, Helen Wyman. Is a race like this worth knocking on the head to possibly prevent a small entry for a race in the North of England?  Your choice girls!

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Larry Hickmott writes … This week has seen the announcement of events for the popular London Nocturne, an event which sees thousands of people line the barriers to watch some cycle racing. There was something missing though; a Women’s race. Last year, as you can see from the pictures below (and above) it was some race and some crowd! The women raced hard and fast and the event was won by Hannah Barnes who is racing in Europe in 2012. Second was none other than the Junior World Road Race champion for Women to be, Lucy Garner.

2011 – mini photo album of the race

Today, there was an announcement from the organisers of this fantastic event that really rocks East London! The 2012 IG London Nocturne Event Director, James Pope, commented on the omission of an Elite Women’s Race:

“We have always been 100% behind women’s cycling and have hosted a female elite criterium at the Nocturne for the last three years. The decision not to host a women’s elite criterium race at this year’s IG London Nocturne was based on a number of considerations, firstly that there is a National Series Race taking place the next day, in the North of the country.”

“In previous years it has been a struggle to pull together enough female riders to make the race competitive, which we again feared would be tough should the event clash with National Series event as it did in 2011. We also have to consider that both events draw upon the same relatively small pool of riders and, after consultation with British Cycling; we needed to be realistic as to whether it’s possible for those riders to support both events within such a tight time frame.”

However, if the demand is there to justify both races we would be more than happy to reinstate the women’s elite criterium on to the programme. We need at least 50 riders to confirm that they intend to race so please email info@nocturneseries.com with your details (name, team, category etc).”

What is disturbing for me is the question of whether British Cycling tried to influence an organiser to not hold an event because of their National Series. The event in the North of England needs the support of the Women racing for sure as does every organiser who puts their faith in organising a Women’s event. It doesn’t always happen, and events do fall by the wayside because of a lack of support by riders. That is something women riders should take on board and do their best to support those who support them.

I would also put it to the organiser of the Women’s Race in the north of the country, Tony Sweeney, that if he wants to promote his race that we’ve been to before and is a great event, then please get in touch and promote the race to the riders in Britain so they can choose which one they want to ride. https://www.velouk.net/contact-us/

We are talking two very different races here. A road race which is quite hilly and a pan flat crit and it should be the riders who decide on which one they ride. For sure, if the organisers of the Nocturne decided that they were not getting enough entries, then fair enough. If however, an outside organisation is trying to influence that decision based on what would appear to be selfish motives to protect their own national series, then that would indeed be wrong.

I’ve not had a statement from British Cycling on this and so based my view only on what I have heard from various sources and that is British Cycling wanted to avoid a clash and therefore dilute the entry up north. At no point, have I heard anything about them worried about how it would affect the Women’s Nocturne.

Hence, British Cycling seems to be trying to protect races in its National Series which raises the question is their National Series more important than an event held in front of thousands of spectators in the country’s capital.

Last year, I asked riders & managers the question “is the overall for a national series important (Prem, Elite circuit etc)” and the answer more often than not was no. The event in that series was important but not the series. To win a Premier when the best riders are assembled on the start line is for sure important to riders and teams, but the overall in the series seems much less so.

It’s why I think British Cycling would be very wrong to try and ‘control’ one organiser to benefit another who happens to be organising a race in BC’s own national series.

More and more British Cycling are getting organisers and members angry at their controlling nature. I know because I am at races most weeks and hear this.

Colin Clewes organises another fantastically successful event, the CiCLE Classic and is an organiser who has been quite vocal about how BC want to have a controlling influence in his event.

Many of you will know I worked for 10 years for British Cycling and it was because of their controlling nature and their (those in charge) lack of passion for the sport that led to me being pushed out of the organisation.

They do not engage with those outside of the ivory towers. Six emails went out this week on another matter, no replies. Indeed, they seem to have this smug attitude of look at us, look at how much money we have, our fancy offices, look at how important we are. The shame of it is that the organisation has sections of it that are doing some fantastic things and funnily enough, I see very little of that in the public domain.

They also have some very passionate people who have a love of the sport that is as great as anyone I know. Sadly, they are victims of the organisation. These ‘workers’ doing their best to help the sport beyond the normal hours of work but being stifled by those in control.

British Cycling has forgotten where its roots are. They brought in ‘corporates’, men & women in suits, a few years ago and it’s been all downhill since then. Bottom line is though, members should not let them dictate what races the riders want to race. If an organiser wants to put on a Women’s race in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans, they should be allowed.

So I urge any woman keen to have the buzz of racing in the country’s capital to email the organisers and pledge your support for the race — info@nocturneseries.com — It’s your sport, it’s your race, so you take the control away from British Cycling.

Thank you for getting this far!

Remember girls, email l info@nocturneseries.com and show your support.

Have your say on Facebook … https://www.facebook.com/pages/VeloUK/163476100373519

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