The Way Ahead (domestic road racing): Part 8

Part 8 of Brother UK Cycling’s big feature on British domestic road racing and the challenges it faces with a shortage of younger organisers

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The Way Ahead (domestic road racing): Part 8

British domestic road racing faced serious challenges even before Covid19 decimated the 2020 calendar. How can it recover, strengthen and achieve sustainability? Enjoy part eight of our in-depth investigation. You can read the full article on the Brother UK Cycling Blog.

A job grown too large?
No one involved with domestic road racing attends more races than Larry Hickmott, founder and editor of, the Brother UK-sponsored website that serves as the sport’s heartbeat. His coverage of every branch of ‘road cycling’ – bunch races and time-trials, circuit races, track races, hill climbs and cyclo-cross – is comprehensive, to say the least.

Larry makes no secret of his admiration for those who serve the sport, notably the small but ageing nucleus of race organisers collectively known as the national organisers group. He maintains that organisers are the most important piece of domestic road racing’s jigsaw. It follows that the absence of younger volunteers is the greatest threat to its future, with the notable exceptions of’s Marc Etches and Richard Williamson of Velo29.

The Tour of Reservoir and Leah Dixon winning a stage in 2019 and the overall. This race was organised by the elderly Mike Hodgson who in 2018 was quite ill before the race and then sadly passed away this year with Covid. His event is taken on by a younger organiser in 2021 who has worked with many a North East organiser like Mike and Peter Harrison. We wish him well.

“I think it’s a huge challenge. I certainly couldn’t just step into the shoes of someone like [Ryedale GP organiser] Bob Howden or Peter Harrison [Beaumont Trophy/Curlew Cup]. I look at the organisers and, no offence to them, but, like me, they’re all getting on a bit. There are younger organisers, like Richard and Marc, but I think in order for the sport to continue at that level, it’s almost as if the older generation needs to mentor younger people and serve as someone from whom to learn the ropes, basically.”

Take the situation in Wales where Bill Owen organised so many events (British championships, National Road Series/Circuit racing) but has now retired because of his age and health and that leaves a big hole in the sport where he is at Abergavenny (South Wales). The stress in organising such events was easy to see when speaking to such organisers like Bill and his wife Brenda.

Mike Hodgson back in 2014 being interviewed before the start of his race

Anyone sufficiently committed to organise a national race will need the commercial acumen to raise tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds in sponsorship, but must also possess the organisational knowledge and experience to stage a sporting event on the public highway. Such demands bring us to a crux in the sport’s development. Should the National Road Series continue to rely on the passion and dedication of volunteers, or has the job simply grown too large for anyone lacking a dedicated skillset and the support – financial and organisational – of a business dedicated to hosting sporting events?

“It almost needs a business manager working alongside an organiser who has the skills and experience to deal with all the different bodies that one needs to deal with to put on a bike race. Let’s face it, you’ve got local councils, British Cycling, the police – so many different bodies,” Larry Hickmott says.

“I’ve always thought we need more companies like [Tour of Britain organisers] SweetSpot to put on a Premier Calendar series, for example. Whether they would have the same feeling and passion for the event of one put on by the likes of Bob or Peter, I’m not sure.”

Click here to read the full article or listen to a panel of experts including Phil Jones MBE, Erick Rowsell and Larry Hickmott on the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, available now from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

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