The major sponsor behind the Women’s CiCLE Classic and the men’s Junior CiCLE Classic has withdrawn his funding in protest over British Cycling suspending their trans athlete policy.
Peter Stanton said he had many friends and colleagues in the trans community that he would be "letting down if I did not make a stand to show my support for their rights".
The pair of races, which are part of British Cycling’s National Road Series and the Junior National Road Series respectively, are now looking for £15,000 of extra funding to prevent their cancellation.
Last week, British Cycling announced that it had blocked trans riders from competing after suspending its policy on transgender and non-binary athletes, pending a full review.
The move, announced in a press release on Friday, came a week after Emily Bridges was stopped from competing at the National Omnium Championships by the UCI.
The decision was made due to a difference in the licensing policies between BC and the UCI, according to the organisation, which British Cycling said was "unfair on all women riders and poses a challenge to the integrity of racing".
Bridges has faced intense public scrutiny since Cycling Weekly first published her story last month, and in the intervening period she says she has "been relentlessly harassed and demonised".
On Tuesday, Stanton told The British Continental that he found the situation "totally unacceptable" and that BC had changed their rules "arbitrarily".
The races are scheduled to take place on Sunday 19 June, but need the extra money by 10 May in order to keep them going; there have been five editions of the women's race, and seven editions of the junior men's equivalent.
“The transgender policy adopted by British Cycling had been the result of a full consultation process and was believed to have been working well until last week when it was suspended without any further consultation,” Stanton said in a statement.
“Whilst fully supportive of women’s sport, I also have many friends and colleagues within the transgender community whom I feel that I would be letting down if I did not make a stand to show my support for their rights.
“This is not the first case of a transgender rider competing under UCI rules, or even as part of an official UCI team, and to arbitrarily change that position based on one individual case, I find totally unacceptable.
“I am desperately saddened by the Emily Bridges case and the actions that it has prompted me to take. I sincerely hope that a satisfactory resolution to her case and that of similar cases in the future can be quickly found in the interests of all parties involved, and sport in general.”
Colin Clews, the race director of CiCLE Classics said that he is looking for “like-minded partners who can help us to deliver the race in 2022 and support its future development”.
He also paid tribute to Stanton: “Peter has been, and continues to be, massively committed to the development of women’s racing within the UK. His financial contribution to support this aim over the past six years is way beyond that of any other private individual.
“As an organisation we hope that it may be possible to renew our collaboration at some stage in the future to continue our joint pursuit of promoting domestic women’s racing at the highest level.”
The men's race, the Rutland-Melton International Men’s CiCLE Classic is unaffected by the departure of Stanton, according to the race organisers, and will take place on Sunday 24 April.
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