NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS CANCELLED
The national road race championships, due to take place this weekend, have been cancelled. The decision was made this morning by Superintendent Mark Stafford of Humber Police as his force is stretched to the limit following flooding in the area.
Although the town of Beverley, that was to host an elite criterium this Friday as well as the men’s and women’s road races on Sunday, isn’t immediately affected by the floods that have struck the north of England, the area surrounded is deluged, with as many as a thousand people being displaced by the waters.
Eyewitness reports from the area suggest that several stretches of road out on the course are under water while others are covered in debris.
“It’s massively disappointing,” organiser Andy Cawley said: “The superintendent was basically saying that it’s a public perception thing. They don’t want any police officers involved in a cycle race when they’re trying to deal with emergencies.
“The council were good enough to say they’d still put a team on it but the police were mindful of the fact that we’d come in for such a lot of bad press if the council, instead of dealing with people’s flooded homes, were sweeping roads for a bike race.”
Jonny Clay, British Cycling’s Competition and Events Manager said: “It’s extreme circumstances, and although Andy and the team are hugely disappointed, a massive amount of work goes I to these things, they’re having to understand the dilemma the Police face. They are hugely stretched.”
With more heavy rain forecast for the area the situation could still worsen, and there are reports that looting is taking place in some towns, stretching the Police’s resources further still.
Clay had received offers of help from neighbouring Police forces, and there was a chance the course could have been moved or adapted, but Superintendent Stafford was insistent that a large sporting event couldn’t take place with the situation as it is, “there’s just no way round it,” Clay said. “If the Police say no, then they wont let the event happen and the relationship with them would be tarnished if we went ahead. We can understand why they made the decision.”
Both British Cycling and the organising team will now look in to the possibility of rescheduling the weekend’s events, “I’m staring at some dates now,” Clay said. “The difficultly now is that the road champs is the same for ever country so we can get the best guys back. We wont be able to achieve that now.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to achieve a re-run of all the events in the next couple of months somewhere, but the guys have worked very hard to do this and right now there’ll be too disappointed to face it all again.
“But I’ve had that discussion with them and it was reasonably positive and we’ll revisit that over the coming weeks. “