British Cycling have announced the launch of a pilot national road series for U23 male riders.
The five-part series will begin in mid-April and conclude at the end of August with an overall series winner crowned.
For years riders, teams and figures across the sport have called for age-specific racing opportunities for those aged between 18 and 22, with Britons forced to move to the continent for regular racing and to progress their chances of becoming a professional.
Organisations like the Rayner Fund provide financial support to dozens of riders each year as they live and race in Belgium, Spain, France and other countries.
The tide of talent has only ever flown one way, with riders only tending to come back to the UK to race in national championship events, or if they sign to a British third-tier outfit and thus partake in the domestic racing calendar.
With Britons only able to spend a maximum of 90 out of 180 days within the European Union since the country left the bloc in January 2020, young riders face greater difficulties than before to secure places on development teams.
British Cycling had been challenged to address the problems by expanding their own offering, and they hope that the pilot series will become a permanent fixture in the calendar.
Heather Bamforth, a member of the governing body's road commission, said that "the commission carried out a rider consultation last year to obtain feedback from under-23 riders, and the new series will hopefully be seen as a step towards addressing the challenges those riders highlighted.
"We look forward to working with riders, organisers and regional boards to continue to further build the pathway for U23 riders in the future."
Jonathan Day, head of sport and major events at British Cycling, commented: "We know that domestically opportunities for under-23s to race amongst their peer group are limited, and we hope this pilot series will help to address that and provide new opportunities for riders at this level.
“We recognise that there are barriers facing talented young riders currently looking to make their way, particularly given the added challenges of riding in Europe, and hope that the new series will give them an added boost as they continue their preparations for a great year of racing ahead.”
All races will be categorised as a National B event, with the first one being the Yorkshire U23 Classic on April 17. A short stage race, the Future Tour of Wales, will take place a fortnight after, before a yet-to-be-confirmed one-day race in the Midlands on June 5.
The series will be rounded by the Worcester Classic on July 31, and the Stars of the South West on August 28.
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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