By Gerry McManus
British Cycling has decided to remove the East Midlands International CiCle Classic race from its Premier Calendar series for 2008. The British Cycling Road Commission decided that it is inappropriate that the series should contain any races on the UCI international calendar, "principally because the regulations of each competition are incompatible".
CiCle Classic race director Colin Clews is disappointed with the decision to exclude one of Britain's most inventive one day races from the calendar. He claims there was no communication from British Cycling prior to notification of the decision. "The regulation differences are absolutely minimal," said Clews. "They relate to the convoy order, riders being grouped into teams and the numbers allowed to start from any one team. Regarding the latter, many would in fact argue that the unlimited team size able to currently contest Premier Calendar events is one of the biggest problems with the series."
The race is one of the newest in the United Kingdom and is currently Britain's only UCI ranked one day race. CiCle Classic is styled on the Paris-Roubaix classic and the route includes some rough and unmade roads. The event is challenging for the riders and has become increasingly popular with spectators. There are many vantage points to see the action unlike some of the other Premier Calendar events in previous years.
"Had the Lincoln and Archer still been full international events, I wonder if the same decision would have been reached?" questioned Clews. "I am particularly saddened by this decision because of the message it sends out to other organisers. This appears to be as long as you promote at a level which does not embarrass any of us that have been 'muddling along' for so many years, you can stay in the Premier Calendar, but if you have any ambitions or imagination for your race, you will be excluded. This decision seems to endorse mediocrity in domestic race promotion."
CiCle Classic has been oversubscribed with rider entries since its creation three years ago. The race will no longer have the support from British Cycling that it had enjoyed as part the race series which included crowd barriers. Clews estimates that it will cost the organiser an additional £7,500 to replace the lost resources.
The organisers of the Grand Prix of Wales are also seeking UCI ranking as an international event next year and will also be excluded from the series.
"We are moving towards developing (expanding and enhancing) our road calendar and a key part of that is promoting international events like Rutland and the GP of Wales to stand above the Premier Calendar - we sanction them as International events and support them as such," a British Cycling spokesman commented. "It enables us to bring on and develop more new events in the Premier Calendar and ultimately we hope that some of them will also become internationals and move out of the series. It's a pretty exciting situation and one which reflects the healthy status of this level of events in the UK."