Unsuitable circuits postpone Cheshire Classic women's race

Women's Road Series race has yet to find a suitable circuit that will allow it to run again

Sarah Storey

(Image credit: Andy Jones)

The Cheshire Classic women’s race will not take place this year because a suitable course satisfying the requirements of legislation and a British Cycling risk assessment could not be found.

Having formed part of BC's Women's Road Series, the event has run every last Sunday of April since the early 1980s and previously used a challenging 7.7km circuit in Acton Bridge, near Northwich.

However, after decades of leniency allowed the race to run, last July Cheshire Police opted to strictly enforce the Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulation Act 1960 to any cycle event in the district.

The Act states that a circuit has to be over 10 miles in length, must not spend more than one-and-a-half miles per lap in a 40mph or less zone, and no more than three miles in total in a 40mph or less zone for the whole race distance, which the event's course did not conform to.

Organiser Weaver Valley Cycling Club, submitted a new circuit around Delamere but it was refused on January 18. Another potential course in Delamere was proposed, but BC rejected this.

Subsequent potential courses around Beeston and Great Budworth were also mooted as possibilities, but the former was rejected by the club because of busy pedestrian activity. The latter involved a narrow section that a BC commissaire had previously not recommended and which would have caused difficulties for support vehicles.

Adrian Japp, club secretary, told Cycling Weekly: “It’s almost impossible to choose a circuit that meets 1960s criteria on 2016 roads. The Act is out of date and is prohibitive to road racing.”

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BC called on the Department of Transport (DfT) to upgrade the Act in July and in a statement said: “We have made no secret of our view that the regulations needed updating.

“We are working closely with the Police and the DfT to strike the right balance: one that gives everyone who wants to experience road racing the opportunity to do so with the confidence that the highest standards are being met.

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“We feel we’re close to a big step forward and remain eager to see progress on this as soon as possible.”

Cheshire Police said: “We cannot approve a route that does not fit regulations, be it this race or any other.”

Japp added: “We don’t want it to be the end of the race but if we can’t find a route in Cheshire, it’s not possible for a local club like ourselves to organise a race outside of our own county.”

Dame Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International) won the E/1/2 event last year among a stellar field.

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