The 2009 Archer Grand Prix has been cancelled due to a lack of sponsorship.

The race, that was due to be held on April 19, was back on the calendar this season having been cancelled in 2008. It was to be the fourth round of British Cycling’s Premier Calendar series.

A press release from organiser Stuart Benstead said:

Undoubtedly the recession has been a major factor, but not necessarily the only factor. It is particularly galling that arrangements had already been put in place for Thames Valley Police (TVP) to provide a motor-cycle escort team and our relationship with them has been first class.

Nevertheless, the costs of this escort together with the road closure order would have been easily the biggest proportion of the whole budget. It is understandable that TVP treat all sporting events on the highway in the same way and that is absolutely right and proper.

It is a huge pity, however, that British Cycling and the road running and horse trial governing bodies have failed to persuade the government to introduce new legislation for alternative self-regulation safety measures for such events. So major charity road runs as well as cycle events have been lost.

In fact TVP officers have told us that they would welcome such legislation so that they can concentrate on their mainstream duties. The cost across the country is colossal and almost 100% of other major cycle races needing a police escort and/or road closure are now drawing their major financial support from Regional Development Authorities (RDA) or local authorities. So there is no wonder that all are situated from Lincoln to the north of England or in Wales and Scotland. The Chilterns base for the Archer GP is unlikely to be perceived as in need of business or tourism support through sports sponsorship.

I find this almost complete reliance by cycle sport on government controlled funding very worrying indeed, whereas most other sports do have a core commercial sponsor for their domestic programme.

The international side of cycling is well funded and this is justified by its success. But the domestic side, from where most of the Olympic and World Champions have emerged, is very vulnerable indeed.

We have approached a considerable range of companies without success including a number within the cycle industry which has perhaps has not been hit so hard by the recession. Some quote the cost of their sponsored teams, which presumably will now have the cost of having to go abroad that weekend for suitable quality racing.

The Archer club will be discussing with the Twickenham CC and the TVP whether the support events for lower category riders can continue, probably on a different course as it was intended to take advantage of the road closure order for the main event.

The Archer club has taken over the promotion of a major meeting at the Hillingdon Circuit and will continue with its cyclo cross meeting at the same venue, while Stuart Benstead remains the organiser of the Hillingdon GP, which is a National Criterium Series event, and 24 of the circuit’s regular meetings.

The cancellation brings the number of Premier Calendar races in 2009 from 13 to 12.

RELATED LINKS

British race calendar 2009