“Running the Worlds and investing in the grassroots of the sport is great but we also need a strong domestic scene”
he £15m of funding for cycling infrastructure the government announced last week, as part of Yorkshire’s bid to host the World Championships, is great. Facilities where parents can go and drop children off at a young age, where the basic skills can be given to those cyclists in a safe environment, is a fantastic thing. Traditionally cycling has always relied on clubs to fulfil that role but in these times a venue with appropriate facilities and accredited staff is easier for parents of 10-year-olds to trust.
In races too you have bigger fields now. In my day it was 40, maximum 60, riders in a field; now 80 is standard. Now they can get more circuits which have been deemed safe for those sizes.
But I’d like to sound a word of caution. Running the Worlds and investing in the grassroots of the sport is great but we also need to make sure we have a strong domestic scene.
My fear is that if we champion those closed circuits too much then we might be pushed onto those circuits. That would take away some opportunities for road racing, in particular multiday races, at a domestic and semi-international level.
It’s those types of races that provide the bridge between circuit races and city centre criteriums and the heights of the Tour of Yorkshire, Tour of Britain and the like.
Those races are a stepping stone for our riders at Jlt-condor and give them something to aim for. Obviously we can’t ride World Champs, Tour of Yorkshire is extremely difficult to get into, Ridelondon has now gone to Worldtour level, and the Tour of Britain is going to become more and more difficult, so after that, why would you have a team?
I’d like to see all these events that are given the go-ahead in the UK with government funding told that they should put on a race that has international teams, a 2.2 level race event, that gives domestic teams an opportunity to race against international competition.
It’s right to invest in the elite and grassroots of the sport but let’s make sure there is a clear pathway between the two.
Olympian and former national road race champion John Herety currently manages top-flight domestic team Jlt-condor