View RSS Feed

Guest Post!

Rate this Entry
It's been a while since I posted, sorry but there isn't a whole lot to report cyclingwise, except to to say that I have started riding again, but only a little bit. Perhaps it's time soon to do a post about my ongoing recovery, but not yet.

Below is a post from John Heaton-Armstrong about BC and the current state of the domestic racing calendar:

British Cycling at a crossroads?

by John Heaton-Armstrong on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 at 07:05.

I considered the title for a while, given that I no longer believe BC to be 'at a crossroads'. The reality is that it has turned in a direction away from domestic competition. I am led to this conclusion when considering the news that it will now receive an increased amount (32m) over the next four years, up from the 25m it was awarded after the Beijing Olympics.

What have those years seen? In terms of base membership, there has been a very significant growth, but the necessity of such membership has to be considered. I would contend that, in the adult population, the assistance of BC is required little at all. For leisure cycling, if indeed an organisation is required, there are a myriad, beginning with the CTC, which has for years supported cycling across the country. In the case of sportives, while they are not everyone's cup of tea, it is perfectly possible to run them, indeed en masse, without BCs involvement. The cynic in me believes that the Sky Rides are actually a clever marketing ploy to get participants to think positively about a company whose reputation is at an all time low. Whilst an investigation has rejected the possibility of this being the case, I would argue that this represents a conflict of interest, in that the collaboration of BC and Sky necessarily means that public funds (i.e. those that BC receive from UK Sport) are going towards supporting the interests of a private company, and a highly dubious one at that.

We can then turn to the question of domestic racing in the UK. In 2008, a letter I wrote to Cycling Weekly (which was letter of the week, but never received the free track pump I was hoping for) called for the channelling of these funds into domestic racing in some part, given the increasing cost of race levees at the time. In the intervening period, there has been an inexorable decline of top flight racing in the UK, the number of Premier Calendar races falling by 50%. We have been told by BC's Sport and Membership director that judging a race series by the number of events is arbitrary - Perhaps it is, Mr Clay, but for there to be any sort of judgement, there have to be some races in that series, and today we are faced with the very real possibility that there will be no races in the series by the next Olympics.

The point I am driving at, is that racing in the UK needs BC in a way that other areas of cycling do not, and BC is failing in its mandate. It is a publicly funded body, but those members who pay their taxes and want to race, or indeed want to watch top flight racing on home soil, and those taxpayers who are not members but wish to do the same, currently have very limited opportunity. In fact, in a 2 week period in Belgium, the fan can watch 6 of the best races in the world, the same number as make up the 2013 Premier Calendar over the course of a year. When one considers the size, resources and expenditure on cycling by Belgium, there is only one word to describe the state of affairs in the UK - pitiful.

Over the last few days I've been asked several times whether I am happy about the Tour de France visiting the UK in 2014, or the boost to BC's funding. In each case, I've had to say no, in fact I am very sad about both. They are distractions from the cancer that is eating domestic racing in the UK, and which BC has done little about. We have continual promises about lobbying, and campaigns which have been allowed to lapse, but still nothing concrete has been delivered.

To return to the title, BC has passed the crossroads and cyclesport in the UK is dying. The life saving treatment by BC is to actually pay for Premier Calendar races. This would cost less than a tenth of the funding it receives, but have a monumental effect, quite apart from the duty BC has to protect the series. Cycling is a professional sport. Riders don't need money from BC, particularly those at the top of the tree who receive most. But riders do need races. I hope there are some left in the UK in 4 years' time.
If you'd like to comment there is a discussion about it going on right now on Facebook:

Updated 18-12-2012 at 10:26 AM by David Mclean

Tags: None Add / Edit Tags
2012 - Meridiana Kamen