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Sad state of British Pro Scene

RichjRichj Posts: 240
edited November 2012 in Pro race
After last weeks news of only 6 Premier Calendar races next year, it looks like the Cicle Classic is in trouble too.

http://www.velouk.net/2012/11/26/news-c ... -for-2013/

Really starting to feel that BC should be putting money (or a lot more if they already do) in to these events to ensure we have a decent Pro Scene in the UK.

Posts

  • Richj, its an interesting question: should BC be funding road races? I dont have a view either way, just been pondering this question myself.

    I dont know anything like enough about all of the underlying causes for the decline of the Prem Calendar, apart from the issue of local police forces not being happy about large scale road closures, and the bleeding obvious situation of sponsors not seeing value in putting money into the road racing scene, plus organisers personally having had enough of battling and shoring up the races themselves.

    Sweetspot seen to have got it right with the TS and of course the ToB. They get televised - which is hugely important for the sponsors naturally. But is the Crit format with maybe 30 mins of highlights of racing, and 20 more of Ned Boulting and Matt Stephens doing interviews, much more TV-friendly for the British domestic audiences? Presumably so, especially as its only this year that British TV audiences beyond the faithful such as ourselves, are starting to cotton onto wanting to watch road races...

    One thing's for sure: BC need to come out with a statement on what they can and are prepared to do, because things are starting to look dire.
  • British road racing has always seemed an odd bird to me. Licenses cost a fortune, race entries cost a fortune, there seems to be a real problem with seeding, ensuring that in an average 1/2/3 race 90% of the field turn up with no hope of anything other than getting a kicking.And from where I lived, 90 of the races were at least an hours drive away. The whole thing has always seemed completely demotivating and weird. On the positive side, the likes of the NEG and a lot of organisers put a lot in to some excellent events.

    Contrast to the few months I spent in France/Belgium as a youngster where you could rock up on the line of a race 3 or 4 nights a week and get a start for a few Euros, your license would cost about 20 Euros and there was a decent chance you could make your entry back in prize money (I remember being absolutely staggered when I got handed 10E back with my license for the first time!)

    I know on the continent they have a lot more riders, and therefore can run bigger fields in seeded races for less money in fees. But the culure there also allows a lot more racing on the road and for it to be established much more easily. Local sponsors seem a lot more willing to put up money too. I've a jersey from a sportif that must have 20 different local business logos on it.

    Something has to change and the surge of popularity cycle sport has now has to be harnessed or you're only going to see a thin veneer of talent at the very top with nothing to support it below.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • Indeed - looks like we're in danger of losing everything between the sportives and the cream at the top level - and as Greased says, how to keep feeding that elite level if the domestic scene disappears.
  • RichjRichj Posts: 240
    Maybe not just about the money but according to the website an objective of BC is

    (a) to encourage, promote, develop and control the sport and
    pastime of cycling in all its forms amongst all sections of
    the community in Great Britain, the Isle of Man and the
    Channel Islands;

    I don't see BC doing a lot of promoting/supporting Pro Road Races. I am aware that BC do an awful lot of good work and this isn't a BC bashing post. But in comparison to the support the Track program gets and support Team Sky get the domestic scene seems to get ignored. As you say Sweetspot run the Tour Series and ToB and I am not sure who supports the National Crit series and cyclo-cross series (although not race racing) but BC seem absent right now at a time they are needed, with local councils and the police restricting road racing more and more.

    Without a strong domestic scene where are the next batch of "Wiggins" and "Cavs" going to come from. I know some of our talented Juniors rely a lot on E/1/2's to keep racing through the season and it all looks like this is disappearing
  • BC don't have the money to put races on.

    They do have the ability to lobby government to make it less daunting both to put races on and to race on the public highways. This isn't a problem that can be solved by money alone.

    Having 2 governing bodies can't help. That and the explosion in sportives that are a great way to wind up motorists.

    People compare Belgium but cycling there is as much in the culture as Sunday League soccer is here.

    It's going to be hard to change the culture in the uk.

    Looking back, Sunday trading killed road acing, not inaction by BC.

    Who knows what the answers are, whatever it is, it won't be easy.
  • Richj wrote:
    Without a strong domestic scene where are the next batch of "Wiggins" and "Cavs" going to come from. I know some of our talented Juniors rely a lot on E/1/2's to keep racing through the season and it all looks like this is disappearing

    Where these came from, the Track and team GB. I dont think the UK will ever have an even remotely comparable race calendar to the Continent for our 'Pros' but, the number of UK riders racing at a high level has never been greater than now. Endura seem to have done well for GB road racing. Pro racing on the GB mainland has always been a grind for all involved.

    That said, isnt the Ride 100 event in London supposedly the birth of a world class one day race?
  • hat and the explosion in sportives that are a great way to wind up motorists

    I would disagree with that. BC need to ask themselves why thousands of cyclists most weekends of the season choose to ride these events over and above road racing, regardless of ability. Likewise, they need to consider why there are new Sportives springing up all over the country whilst road racing seems to be losing races. Simply trying to grab a bite of the pie and sniping at organisers is not going to cut it.

    What is the limiting factor to cyclists who train for long distance events, and could often make decent 2s or 3s, choosing to enter races? As a rider who went the other way, and gave up a cat 2 license to ride TTs and sportives, my thinking was the following

    1) My license was costing me £80 a year (inc membership) and race entries were at least £15 on top of that.
    2) I had to travel anything up to a 300 mile round trip to get to a 1/2/3 race.With associated costs.
    3) The seeding/category system was so bad (with Juniors racing who had more than 300 points and 1s/Es who'd taken a year off working their way back up) that I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the races where my natural talents would allow me to have a sniff of anything other than a bunch finish. This was tied up with
    4) There just aren't enough lower level races with decent climbs or distances above 80km. When people take a step up to 1/E level, this is a big factor in them falling down again straight away.
    5) I was increasingly in fear of my life due to motorists and other riders.

    I know this sounds like a lot of moaning, but the fact is that the top of the domestic scene will always reflect the bottom and the bottom is not healthy at all. If top line races are going to succeed there needs to be a product for people to paticipate in to attract sponsors who see a participatory sport popular at grassroots.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • ...and as Greased says, how to keep feeding that elite level if the domestic scene disappears.

    I didn't think I had said anything? :cry:
  • I know this sounds like a lot of moaning, but the fact is that the top of the domestic scene will always reflect the bottom and the bottom is not healthy at all. If top line races are going to succeed there needs to be a product for people to paticipate in to attract sponsors who see a participatory sport popular at grassroots.

    Thats a good summary, trouble is though that BC does not dictate course length/difficulty. The organiser does, and that's often dictated by left turns.
  • RichjRichj Posts: 240

    I know this sounds like a lot of moaning, but the fact is that the top of the domestic scene will always reflect the bottom and the bottom is not healthy at all. If top line races are going to succeed there needs to be a product for people to paticipate in to attract sponsors who see a participatory sport popular at grassroots.

    This was kind of my point and @disgruntledgoat has put it a lot better than I did.

    At one end Sportives are booming Go-Ride for the under 14's seems to be doing very well and cyclo-cross is very popular but road racing is sliding backwards at all levels.

    Yes we have more British Pro's than ever (maybe not quite sure if that is true but it feels it) racing in Europe and winning races at that but underneath and supporting that development things seem to be crumbling.
  • Nick Fitt wrote:
    I know this sounds like a lot of moaning, but the fact is that the top of the domestic scene will always reflect the bottom and the bottom is not healthy at all. If top line races are going to succeed there needs to be a product for people to paticipate in to attract sponsors who see a participatory sport popular at grassroots.

    Thats a good summary, trouble is though that BC does not dictate course length/difficulty. The organiser does, and that's often dictated by left turns.

    That's the point I didn't get around to making (hemhem) we need a federation prepared to stand up for the sport to local government and police as regards road closures and right turns. Hopefully, leading to more and better races at all levels.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • Nick Fitt wrote:
    I know this sounds like a lot of moaning, but the fact is that the top of the domestic scene will always reflect the bottom and the bottom is not healthy at all. If top line races are going to succeed there needs to be a product for people to paticipate in to attract sponsors who see a participatory sport popular at grassroots.

    Thats a good summary, trouble is though that BC does not dictate course length/difficulty. The organiser does, and that's often dictated by left turns.

    That's the point I didn't get around to making (hemhem) we need a federation prepared to stand up for the sport to local government and police as regards road closures and right turns. Hopefully, leading to more and better races at all levels.

    It is proven beyond doubt that the WCPP, then Team GB has worked and has contributed to the standing of GB Cycling globally in an incredible way. But is the objective more UK pros or betterment of the sport in general? (Team GB is obviously Olympic medals with RR a fall out) My guess is broadly, one be-gets the other.

    I always thought the Surrey League is/was a great model. When I lived on the South Coast, you could race 2-3 times a week without travelling more than an hour. I thought that IF that could be replicated across other regions as succesfully, then you can build a National League above, then lead that into Conti racing.

    Doesnt solve the fact that the roads, weather, public attitude is not cycle race friendly in the UK though. I can sadly never ever see that changing
  • Vino'sGhostVino'sGhost Posts: 4,129
    part of the problem is that leagues like the excellent surrey league suck up huge amounts of time over many years and I struggle to believe you could make a living from what is pretty much full time hours.

    Everyone owes a debt to guys like these.
  • Doesnt solve the fact that the roads, weather, public attitude is not cycle race friendly in the UK though. I can sadly never ever see that changing

    Again, Sportive organisers seem to be doing something right here. They manage to attract riders consistently throughout the season and certainly at some of the more established ones I've had the pleasure of riding (Fred Whitton, Etape Du Dales etc) there have been decent crowds at several points on the route.

    I think the key is to ride the current wave of popularity the sport is experiencing to "normalise" racing on the road. Parents of kids taking up the sport as "first generation" cyclists will surely demand safe road conditions for their kids.

    @Vinosghost

    I completely agree. Whatever the event, I have always made a point of seeking out the organiser at the end to pass on my thanks and appreciation to them and however many marshalls I can find too.

    That's just sparked another thought in my head about the new fad for "race teams" rather than clubs who don't put anything back into the sport.
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • tomb8555tomb8555 Posts: 229
    That's just sparked another thought in my head about the new fad for "race teams" rather than clubs who don't put anything back into the sport.

    In my opinion this fad is mainly due to two things:

    1) Influx of sportive / weekend riders completely swamping the racing interests of clubs with a previous decent racing membership - as the membership grows around a different kind of riding, that's what the club tends to cater for.

    2) People caring more about looking 'pro' with a 'race team' at low levels of racing.
  • I'll pretty much sum up every cafe stop I have:

    The Police don't want road racing, or the traffic management companies are ran by ex-coppers who's only interest is rinsing people for a few marshalls with signs. Essentially going to Sunday league footie and stabbing the ball with a knife and pissing in the goal mouth.

    Locals don't want road races because they might have to wait a few minutes behind a bunch on their way to the Toby Carvery. Although they seem pretty censored chuffed to bits if there's a few blokes on horses and a pack of dogs chasing some defenseless creature across fields.

    British Cycling inability/unwillingness/apathy to cementing the future of road racing at a time when we're having the greatest amount of success we ever have had. After the Tour and Olympic success I don't understand why more isn't being done. They also have a huge focus on grass roots/track/elite scene, but the middle ground is neglected. The only chance of progression for many of the lads I've raced with is getting on the ODT or the track team, which if you don't live any where near Manchester is a ball ache, so has put off a few lads out of sheer practicality.

    The attitude of riders. Why race a 60mile+ hilly road race when you can sit in a bunch round a 2km closed circuit and get your elite license in a matter of months. Proper road races are dying because riders are lazy censored who don't want to get a kicking. The same riders are "washing their hair" when it comes their turn to marshall.

    Etc etc. General overview, everyone is trying to get all they can out of the sport without putting anything back in, to the detriment of it.

    I remember a simpler time when we just used to talk about boobs and farting :'(
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • eheh Posts: 4,854
    It has been pretty clear for a long time that BC has failed at grassroots level when it comes to racing. They got involved in MTBing and it all but fell apart, the biggest events still standing have little or nothing to do with BC. Then after f**cking that up they simply watched by the sidelines while road racing has gone the same route. They should be offering the promoters (often clubs) better support in putting on events, rather than just grumbling a bit, but doing little to stop great races like the Archer, 5 Valleys and Tour of the Peaks fall by the wayside.

    Still no club got rich by promoting, but pimping yourself to Sky, Adidas does :-(
  • tomb8555 wrote:
    That's just sparked another thought in my head about the new fad for "race teams" rather than clubs who don't put anything back into the sport.

    In my opinion this fad is mainly due to two things:

    1) Influx of sportive / weekend riders completely swamping the racing interests of clubs with a previous decent racing membership - as the membership grows around a different kind of riding, that's what the club tends to cater for.

    2) People caring more about looking 'pro' with a 'race team' at low levels of racing.

    Surely this, again, is blaming the symptom rather than the cause. Do you think there is something inherently wrong with people who want to ride sportives? Why do you suppose they don't want to race?
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • The only chance of progression for many of the lads I've raced with is getting on the ODT or the track team

    There also needs to be some catering for people who don't reach these heights. If we want BC to invest in road racing they need funds from membership and licenses. Part of the reason I gave up mine was because I had managed to get to yo yo between 3rd and 2nd catwithout a sniff of a result in 3 years. I was only picking up points in bunch gallops at the end of 2/3/4s and Crits (which the current system rewards, rather than encouraging at least trying to win/ride as a team). Without races where people have a hope of doing well, why are they going to keep coming back for dull races around a 5 mile pan flat circuit and pay through the nose?
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • The only chance of progression for many of the lads I've raced with is getting on the ODT or the track team

    There also needs to be some catering for people who don't reach these heights. If we want BC to invest in road racing they need funds from membership and licenses. Part of the reason I gave up mine was because I had managed to get to yo yo between 3rd and 2nd catwithout a sniff of a result in 3 years. I was only picking up points in bunch gallops at the end of 2/3/4s and Crits (which the current system rewards, rather than encouraging at least trying to win/ride as a team). Without races where people have a hope of doing well, why are they going to keep coming back for dull races around a 5 mile pan flat circuit and pay through the nose?

    I totally agree. There's a year long battle for the lads round here (whether it's a good or bad thing) to avoid going up categories, because then the selection of races is narrowed massively, or they'll have to start riding prems, which they'll never get selected for, and aren't good enough anyway. There needs to be a much better sub-Premier tier. The category system is much bemoaned up here as it is. Look at the elites/1st cats up here and look at where these points came from, and it'll be closed circuits. Category is not an indicator of ability anymore.
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • RichjRichj Posts: 240
    Surely this, again, is blaming the symptom rather than the cause. Do you think there is something inherently wrong with people who want to ride sportives? Why do you suppose they don't want to race?

    Sportives do well at reaching out to the masses, you get a day out on an often challenging course and ride in a group. That's why most round here seem to do them. They don't race as most local races are crits and the first lap can be done at close to 30mph avg (even the 4ths) and they get spat straight out the back. So in their eyes its £15-20 for an enjoyable day out or £15 for a 2 min effort pack up and go home. Which I think is a failing of the category system but I don't know of a solution to that
  • DoobzDoobz Posts: 2,800
    I'll pretty much sum up every cafe stop I have:

    The Police don't want road racing, or the traffic management companies are ran by ex-coppers who's only interest is rinsing people for a few marshalls with signs. Essentially going to Sunday league footie and stabbing the ball with a knife and pissing in the goal mouth.

    Locals don't want road races because they might have to wait a few minutes behind a bunch on their way to the Toby Carvery. Although they seem pretty ******* chuffed to bits if there's a few blokes on horses and a pack of dogs chasing some defenseless creature across fields.

    British Cycling inability/unwillingness/apathy to cementing the future of road racing at a time when we're having the greatest amount of success we ever have had. After the Tour and Olympic success I don't understand why more isn't being done. They also have a huge focus on grass roots/track/elite scene, but the middle ground is neglected. The only chance of progression for many of the lads I've raced with is getting on the ODT or the track team, which if you don't live any where near Manchester is a ball ache, so has put off a few lads out of sheer practicality.

    The attitude of riders. Why race a 60mile+ hilly road race when you can sit in a bunch round a 2km closed circuit and get your elite license in a matter of months. Proper road races are dying because riders are lazy idiots who don't want to get a kicking. The same riders are "washing their hair" when it comes their turn to marshall.

    Etc etc. General overview, everyone is trying to get all they can out of the sport without putting anything back in, to the detriment of it.

    I remember a simpler time when we just used to talk about boobs and farting :'(

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