By Jonny Long
British pros are urging the UK Government to negotiate a visa-free permit with the European Union so that they are able to race on the continent this season.
A number of riders are sharing a UK Parliament petition, that has nearly 2,000 signatures at the time of writing, pointing out that the law currently only allows British nationals to travel within the EU for 90 in 180 days. Many British pros either based in Europe or with European-centric racing schedules coming up have been left in limbo and countries like Belgium require riders to earn €80,000 in order to be classed as a professional sportsperson and be granted a special athlete visa.
The likes of Bahrain Victorious' Fred Wright, who is currently in the UAE for the opening race of the WorldTour season, is one such rider who has shared the petition, with 10,000 signatures required in order for the appeal to receive a response from the government on the issue.
Cycling Weekly understands that British Cycling has told some riders that it has a meeting with the Minister for Sport next week, where plans to aid athletes in all sports affected by these visa restrictions will hopefully be discussed.
Ribble-Weldtite's Olly Moors is one rider currently left in the lurch, having lived and raced in Belgium for the past five years, he currently finds himself stuck in the UK. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Jumbo-Visma's Anna Henderson, has set off for Belgium ahead of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad next weekend, her 90 allocated travel days ticking down with every passing day.
"So we're basically both on the 90 days and this would have been my fifth year living in Belgium and obviously now that there's Brexit I can't do that," Moors told Cycling Weekly. "Because of the 90-day rule it's kind of screwed all of that up really."
Moors also points out that constantly travelling back and forth between the UK and EU in order to limit the number of days abroad is less safe from a Covid-19 point of view.
"It would be better if there was some sort of way at the moment to give out something like extended tourist visas to athletes, to go to the country and just stay put," Moors added. "There's no UK racing scene for me as a domestic UK rider. I'm better off in Belgium because we've got a really good solid French and Belgian and Dutch summer calendar coming up."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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