We are sorry to announce that the 2016 edition of the Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race has had to be cancelled. A suitable course which met both the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act 1960 and a British Cycling risk assessment could not be found.
This is not a decision that I, Andy Wood, as Organiser, or my peers at Weaver Valley Cycling Club, have taken lightly. We (Weaver Valley Cycling Club) tried everything possible to make this year’s race happen. We are disappointed to publish today’s announcement.
In July 2015 we learnt that Cheshire Police would not approve races where the course did not meet Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act 1960. There are a number of considerations that we need to take account when this rule is enforced however the main points are:
· A circuit has to be 10 miles or more in length
· The race must not spend more than 1.5 miles in a 40mph zone or less
· The race must spend no more than 3 miles in total in a 40mph zone or less
The current Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race course in Acton Bridge does not meet these regulations. Previously the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act 1960 had been waived on the discretion of Cheshire Police, allowing us to use shorter courses and extend the speed restricted areas depending on full assessment by British Cycling & Cheshire Police. Cheshire Police are now strictly enforcing the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act 1960 with no exceptions. This has affected other cycle races in the area not just the Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race.
Producing an approved circuit for racing in Cheshire is becoming very difficult, not least because we are working with a 1960 act in 2016 road conditions to:
· Produce a circuit over 10 miles in length which is safe; uses wide, good quality, quiet roads, junctions which we can be marshalled easily and safely, and doesn’t include traffic lights, is near on impossible
· Satisfy the requirements of an event such as the Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race requires a circuit to safely handle 500+ spectators and a convoy which is nearly a mile in length. It also needs to be close to a suitable HQ which would host over 200 people
· Comply with the act. The road conditions have changed significantly. The small villages we pass through (which would have had a national speed limit running through them) are now 30 or 40 mph zones.
In October 2015 we understood that there would be no resolution with Cheshire Police. We submitted a new circuit around Delamere, which we believed was suitable and met regulation, to British Cycling for assessment on the 4th November 2015. We discovered on the 18th January 2016 through the Chief Commissaire appointed to the race that the circuit had not been approved. On the 3rd February 2016 we received advice on why the circuit had not passed initial assessment and would not be considered for a full risk assessment.
Meanwhile on 27th January 2016 an alternative circuit was drawn up by British Cycling around Beeston. This was declined due to passing through a major tourist attraction each lap and the roads which we felt were too narrow to feature the race.
This left us with one other alternative, a circuit around Great Budworth which had been approved for our 3rd and 4th category Autumn Road Race in October. We declined this circuit on two grounds.
1. We felt it wasn’t suited to an Elite race, it was not challenging enough for this level of rider and most importantly we felt the environment would not support the requirements of the race (such as the length of convoy and spectator points).
2. At this point we would have less than 2 months to fully organise the race, take entries, organise an appropriate HQ, confirm sponsors and market the race. This process would usually start in November.
As part of the process. We explored partial road closures with our contacts at Chester & Cheshire West council, who we are incredibly indebted to. The cost of doing this, together with the time needed for approval, would prohibit this from being a possibility.
We subsequently submitted a course on 24th February 2016 that British Cycling had previously approved in 2008 around Delamere. This was rejected by British Cycling as it would need reassessment. Following a ride around the course we also had concerns over the road quality and if we would be able to resolve this issue in time for the race with the local authority.
Yesterday we were provided with an ultimatum from British Cycling to provide a suitable local course and a commitment that we could host the race in the timescale available or to cancel the event. At Weaver Valley Cycling Club we are proud to organise high quality races, and have done so for over 40 years. We are not prepared to run a sub-standard race and given the tight restrictions and lack of a suitable approved course we are left with no other alternative but to cancel this year’s edition.
We understand that steps have been taken to amend the Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act. We hope that British Cycling can resolve this issue as a matter of urgency.
We are incredibly sorry to all the riders and the supporters of the race. We know that many have looked forward to this race as part of a major road race series in the women’s calendar. In an Olympic year it is incredibly sad for this to happen when we should be right behind our girls on their way to getting Olympic gold.
We would like thank everyone who has supported us throughout this process.
We hope to be back in 2017.