Concern for cycle races in Doncaster following police-imposed cancellations

Doncaster Festival of Cycling 2015'Womens 3/4 Race'Whinfrey Briggs Grand Prix
Doncaster Festival of Cycling 2015'Womens 3/4 Race'Whinfrey Briggs Grand Prix

Concerns have been raised for the future of cycling events in Doncaster - after road races were suspended across South Yorkshire amid safety concerns.

South Yorkshire Police took the decision following complaints about races in Rotherham and an incident involving cyclists and a combine harvester, which led to the cancellation of Tumby’s Road Race in Braithwell on Sunday.

NDFP 24-8-14 Velo Giant cycles womens race  BC 10 ,  11. & 12

NDFP 24-8-14 Velo Giant cycles womens race BC 10 , 11. & 12

Police chiefs are due to meet with British Cycling officials, cycle race organisers and council highways bosses in the next couple of days in a bid to find a solution.

But if the situation cannot be rectified it casts doubt on the future of some cycling road races in Doncaster, which have been hugely popular in recent years.

Doncaster Cycle Festival organiser Martin Maltby said he was certain next summer’s major town centre event, which attracts thousands of spectators, would still go ahead.

In addition, Richard Stoodley, organiser of the more pressing YESSS Tickhill Grand Prix, confirmed the race will take place as scheduled in September.

Tickhill Velo organiser Richard Stoodley.

Tickhill Velo organiser Richard Stoodley.

Both these events are ‘closed circuit’ races, where normal traffic is not allowed on the roads. But there are fears for the future of smaller ‘open road races’ such as the Danum Trophy in March and the Pickburn Autumn Road Race.

Mr Maltby, 47, who is also president of the Doncaster Wheelers Cycling Club, said: “The Tickhill race and the Cycle Festival both have TTRO (Temporary Traffic Road Orders) which closes the roads so they will be fine.

“But there might be an issue to discuss with the open road races, which I think is what happened last week. They are still safe and well-marshalled but the roads are not closed to other traffic.

“We haven’t started organising the Danum Trophy or the Pickburn race yet as it’s too early. But depending on the outcome of this meeting, if they decide to take some sort of action then it looks like open road races might be in jeopardy.

NDFP Doncaster Cycle Festival   L>R   Martin Maltby

NDFP Doncaster Cycle Festival L>R Martin Maltby

“It would be a great shame if they decide to cancel open road races because we have built up a lot of momentum with the Tour de France, Tickhill Grand Prix, Tour de Yorkshire and Cycle Festival. I think it would be a step back.”

Mr Stoodley, a member of the Tickhill Velo Club, added: “We need to help nurture up and coming talent and a short sighted ban such as this is not taking into consideration the millions of fans or the thousands of athletes who are trying to make a name in our sport.

“South Yorkshire produces some of the best and most talented future stars, and I am sure British Cycling will be working hard with the police to rectify this problem and lets hope it is only a temporary blip.

“Unfortunately normal cyclists are being injured, knocked off their bikes and even killed and very little is ever done about it. It is unfortunate that some motorists see cyclists as nothing but a pest on the road, and a few small complaints over a couple of minutes delay has ended up threatening our sport.”

Doncaster Cycle Festival'Boys Under 16  in 2014.

Doncaster Cycle Festival'Boys Under 16 in 2014.

Both added events organised in conjunction with British Cycling always adhered to the highest safety requirements.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said organisations are due to meet at ‘the back end of this week’ - likely today or Friday - to review race safety and an announcement will follow shortly afterwards.

He added: “To clarify, we have not banned road racing in South Yorkshire. Concerns and complaints have been made to us about safety issues surrounding these races. A decision was made by us, British Cycling and Highways to suspend road races until we meet next week to review the safety of these races. We want everybody to be able to enjoy these races, however, our main concern is the safety of the cyclists and public in South Yorkshire.”

A spokesman for British Cycling Yorkshire said it was necessary to tackle any concerns raised by police, who authorise the events.

He added organisations would be “getting around the table” to “agree what will happen going forward.”

There are hopes the situation will be resolved before the next race – the Out of the Saddle Summer Road Race, in Braithwell, on Sunday, August 30.

Around 500 riders are set to take part in the eight-race Tickhill Grand Prix around a closed circuit in Tickhill on September 20.

About 60 riders take part in the Danum Trophy and Pickburn Autumn Road Race, both of which have been going for more than a decade.

The Doncaster Cycle Festival has attracted crowds of about 5000 people in the last two years to watch more than 300 riders race around a 1km town centre circuit.

Next year’s festival is due to take place towards the end of May.