Cycling - Circuit of the Fens Elite race cancelled

The start of last year's Circuit of the Fens race in Whittlesey.
The start of last year's Circuit of the Fens race in Whittlesey.
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Organisers of the popular Whittlesey-based road race - the Circuit of the Fens Pro-Elite Classic scheduled for Sunday July 26 - have been forced to pull the plug on this year’s event.

Race organiser Colin Coe said in a statement issued today (July 6): “A lot of people will be disappointed by the decision but we had little choice. Although offered a generous grant from Whittlesey Town Council, along with valuable support from Fenland District Council, we had no significant commercial sponsors. Indeed, two of our sponsors from last year had said goodbye, albeit on amicable terms.

“We were obviously seeking replacements but it is difficult to persuade companies to part with their cash in sufficient amounts to meet the cost of putting on a race of this calibre.

“A dispute with British Cycling over the calendar date cost us a place in their Elite Series and with it the TV coverage, a lost opportunity to attract potential sponsors for the event and cycling at large.

“We had hoped that the races might be self-financing but when promises of funding from other sources did not materialise, that was the crunch point. Hence the late cancellation.

“We have operated on a very tight budget for the past two years and the prospect of another loss this year was not an option.

“We do understand that the Whittlesey townsfolk are disappointed. They have been very supportive over the last two years. Hopefully the race will return.

“I expect that the organising group will see some changes during the next few months and will need to raise a substantial amount to promote the race to the level it deserves to achieve.”

The two previous winners of the race were Marcin Bialoblocki (2013) and Adam Blythe (2014). Blythe carried his good form over to win the same year’s Prudential Ride-London.

A consolation for some of the riders is that the original support race is being transferred from Whittlesey to the nearby village of Benwick on Sunday July 26. The organisers won’t face the same costs in running a race confined to the smaller circuit.

Benwick had already welcomed the prospect of it’s own race on the Sunday morning but instead will now host a longer 76-mile event.

The Circuit of the Fens (amateur race) is being promoted by St Ives Cycling Club for 2nd and 3rd category riders and will be part of the Eastern Road Race League.

The race will cover eight laps of a 9.5 mile circuit, starting at noon and finishing at 2.45pm in the High Street, outside “The Five Awls”.

Although it might not seem such an attractive prospect as the cancelled Elite race, it will still be a good event to watch, with the riders lapping every 20 minutes or so.

Eighty riders have already signed up.