Perfs Pedal race saved, becomes Portsdown Classic for 2024

The future of the race was in doubt after former organiser stepped down in October

Jack Rootkin-Gray
(Image credit: Ian Wrightson / The British Continental)

The Perfs Pedal race in Hampshire will continue next year under a new identity as the Portsdown Classic. 

Back in October, the former organiser Mick Waite announced that the race would not continue into the new year, and called upon other parties to pick up the vacant date left on the domestic calendar. 

Waite said that putting on the race had become “increasingly difficult” due to a variety of different factors. 

However, The British Continental revealed on Friday that the race had been saved and would continue as the Portsdown Classic in the new year. Seb Ottley, a former amateur racer and race organiser, is the man behind the revamped race. 

He told the website that once he had heard Waite would be stepping down he immediately set plans in motion to take over as in his view losing the race was simply not an option. 

He said: “I raced once back in 2008, I think, and then stupidly last year. It’s always been that event where I thought I could potentially get around in the bunch if I was on good form. I’ve always wanted to have a go at it.

“Then, obviously, this came up, he [Waite] stepped down. I messaged him probably within about an hour of hearing to get the ball rolling. It’s such an important race, for the whole calendar, everybody knows of it.”

“I just think it’d be such a shame to have lost it,” Ottley added. 

The Perfs Pedal race was first held in 1964 and became the unofficial curtain raiser to the British domestic season. 

Earlier this year, Jack Rootkin-Gray of Saint Piran took the honours in Hampshire adding his name to the prestigious list of former winners which includes Sean Yates and Alex Dowsett. 

Former pro, 2015 Perfs Pedal winner and Le Col founder Yanto Barker recently told Cycling Weekly that the race was highly regarded by many in the British scene. 

“It's always been kind of seen as like the first proper hit out of the year,” he said.

“When you kind of slog your way through the depths of the darkest winter, you just can't wait to compare yourself to someone, because when you're going out on your own and doing your own intervals you don’t have any kind of comparison or any kind of measure of if you are doing any good or whatever.

"So it was always nice to get to that race and open the taps a little bit and hopefully get a good result."

In a wide-ranging interview with The British Continental, Ottley explained that he had found a way to work around various issues the race was dealing with. This includes logistical issues, the location of the race HQ and reconfiguring the route including the location of the finish line.

When Waite announced that he was stepping aside he told Cycling Weekly that if the race was to continue it would need to do so with a different name.

He said: “What I’ve decided, mainly with the family when we had the discussion, is that Perfs is going – along with my memory – but the date is there, someone could pick something up. It could be anywhere, it doesn’t have to be in Hampshire.”

Staying true to Waite’s wishes, Ottley told The British Continental that it was hugely important to him that the new race honoured Waite’s wishes and his legacy.

He also revealed that British Cycling had been instrumental in keeping the race alive.

“Everyone at BC from the region and HQ have been really supportive in wanting to keep the event alive,” he explained.

“I think it was in their interests to get it done as quickly as they could. I think the worry was that if it didn’t happen in ’24, there’s a chance it would just peter out, and come ’25, ’26, no one would bother taking it up then.”

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