Amateur rider given extended suspension for racing while banned

Michael Ashurst, who was banned for riding a race he hadn't entered in March, has been handed an additional eight-month ban and dropped from Champion System-VCUK

Eddie Soens Memorial road race 2013

A rider who was banned for riding a race he hadn’t entered, has had the length of his suspension more than doubled for entering a time trial while banned.

The rider has also been dropped from development team Champion System-VCUK, in the wake of the ban.

First category rider Michael Ashurst received a four-month ban for riding six laps of the Frank Morgan Memorial Road Race on 27 March when he wasn’t entered in the race.

He had been due to resume racing from 27 July, but his suspension has now been upped to a full year after he was found to have ridden the St Helens and Wigan Wheelers Club 10-mile time trial on 1 June, while banned. Ashurst even posted the fastest time of the night, 20.35, which was later scrubbed from the results.

Ashurst has subsequently been asked to leave his team, alumni of which include the Orica-BikeExchange riders Simon and Adam Yates and upcoming British Caja Rural rider Hugh Carthy. Team director Wayne Greenhalgh said Ashurst’s actions were “crazy” and made the team look "unprofessional”.

“He was asked to leave yesterday [August 30]. We were reviewing contracts for next year and at this time [of year] we start to look at new riders… We cannot do it [keep Ashurst] any more,” he said.

He added: “He is a very talented rider but at some point you have got to decide that the whole team has to come first.”

However, Greenhalgh did say that Ashurst had told him he was unaware that he couldn’t ride a local 10-mile time trial under the terms of his ban. He added that is the rider's responsibility to check eligibility, saying, “You need to check beforehand and you’ve only got yourself to blame.” All British Cycling bans are recognised by Cycling Time Trials (CTT).

Greenhalgh said he felt the length of the additional suspension was “a bit harsh” because riding a 10-mile time trial did not carry the same safety risks as a rogue rider in a bunch race.

Greenhalgh was a participant in the Frank Morgan Memorial Road Race in March, in which British Cycling found Ashurst “undertook some racing moves” to benefit two of his clubmates in the leading group.

At the time of Ashurst’s original suspension Greenhalgh said: “I was almost beyond belief that he was actually riding around when it was hammering with hailstones and it was freezing cold.”

He added: “I told him to get out before he got seen and got banned. I told him if he got seen he’d be held culpable. I absolutely agree that it’s the rider’s fault. He shouldn’t have been in the race. It makes the team look stupid and amateurish.”

At the time Ashurst said he did not know the race was taking place. He said he was training on the circuit at the time and got “tangled in the bunch”.

“The only thing that is accurate is that I rode around in the bunch for a few laps. I didn’t chase, I didn’t attack, I didn’t block and I didn’t affect the race in any shape or form,” the 27-year-old told Cycling Weekly.

Michael Ashurst has been contacted for comment.

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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, world championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the middle east. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.