Bold new plans to help attract new blood to time trialling have been voted in by Cycling Time Trials, the sport's governing body in the UK.
It is hoped that the measures, which include new plans for road bikes, guaranteed entry into events and a radical overhaul of the longstanding British Best All-Rounder competition, will help turn around a rapid decline in participation and tackle the financial hit that CTT has taken as a result.
The measures were voted in at last weekend's AGM, which took place at Daventry, Northants. New chair Andrea Parish, who has already spent two months as an interim chair and is considered a progressive figure, was also voted in.
The BBAR will see a new, short-distance competition comprising 10, 25, 50 and 100-mile distances to run alongside the standard full-distance competition, over 50-mile, 100-mile and 12 hour events. For the first time in its 92-year history, the full-distance competition will be open to women as well as men – as will the new short-distance competition.
Parish said she had been asked often by women why they couldn't ride the full distance.
"I think having both sparks interest," she said. "And we'll soon get a view – riders will be voting with their feet – as to whether there's still space for 'the' BBAR. It may be that opening up the short BAR will have much more participation."
The meeting also produced a new road bike definition, with a view to making road bikes a new standard category within open time trials, instead of organisers being obliged to put on a separate event specially.
The new category would hopefully be up and running for 2023, Parish said. The new definition, which is fairly loose and includes no tri-bars or disc wheels and a minimum of 12 spokes, allows for flat bars to be used so as not to deter riders on hybrid or mountain bikes – many of whom might be dipping a toe into cycle sport for the first time.
"The actual popularity of people riding road bikes in TTs has shot up," Parish said, referring to an 1,158 per cent increase in rides in this category since 2017. She said it could also help future-proof time trialling against the loss of fast dual carriageway courses – a growing problem.
The guaranteed entry, again, was introduced with the hope of making open time trials more accessible. Organisers won't have to use it, but if they choose to do so, it will allow for up to 30 entries to be guaranteed, rather than chosen on the basis of who has the fastest times from the previous three years.
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