At first sight, the agenda for this Saturday’s (November 13) British Cycling National Council meeting in Manchester appears to be doing the right thing at last, offering a place in cycling history to the British League of Racing Cyclists.
These were the rebel body of men responsible in the post-war years for battling against all the odds to bring road racing to Britain – banned since the Victoria era. All were banned for life by the National Cyclists Union.
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But they fought on, formed the BLRC and planted the seeds from which has grown our modern and hugely successful sport.
For in 1959, the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC) amalgamated with then governing body, the National Cyclists Union, to form the British Cycling Federation, now known as British Cycling.
Curiously, there is a second proposal, to also recognise and acknowledge the National Cyclists’ Union for their role!
Curious because the BLRC will tell you that for years the NCU did their level best to hold the sport back. There was real fear among these NCU reactionaries that bunched road racing on the highway would back fire and the authorities would clamp down, not just on this new Continental sport, but perhaps also time trialling, the staple diet of cycling sport for some 50 years.
Their merger with the BLRC to form the British Cycling Federation was a shotgun wedding which came only after a 16-year bitter war.
Even then it is said former NCU people continued to undermine all the BLRC had achieved, killing off the pro class for a start.
For British Cycling to now propose giving equal credit to the NCU smacks of political correctness. It creates the illusion they were bedfellows, when history records otherwise.
The first proposal says:
“At the conclusion of our 50th Anniversary celebrations, this National Council acknowledges the vital role played in the development of this sport by our predecessor body, the British League of Racing Cyclists.
It is followed by a second proposal; word for word the same, to acknowledge the National Cyclists’ Union role.
One former top BLRC international I have spoken to says the Board’s proposal needs to differentiate clearly between the two warring sides.
It’s to be hoped National Council do the right thing.