March is almost here and classics season is just around the corner, but plenty has already been happening with a slate of early-season races giving plenty of talking points.
Furthermore, there’s more team race programme confirmation, race calendar revisions, Brexit news (!) and more. The British Continental rounds up everything that’s been going on for your reading pleasure.
Featured photo: David Hares
Race calendar news
More changes to the British calendar
In what is sadly now a regular feature of these Communiqués in 2021, there has been another major change to the British calendar. This time it’s the postponement of the UK’s last remaining top-tier race, The Women’s Tour.
Originally meant to take place 7-12 June, the organisers Sweetspot now hope to run the race later this year instead and have requested dates of 4-9 October. Fingers crossed
That means the only UCI-level race in Britain that retains its originally planned dates – for now – is the Tour of Britain.
Tour Series winners get stateside experience
In more positive news, SweetSpot, organisers of the Tour Series, has announced a cracking partnership with USA CRITS to give the men’s and women’s series champions the opportunity to compete in the USA.
The two winners will be invited to compete in the American criterium series’ finals weekend at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic in North Carolina in September.
No doubt that will add some spice to this year’s Series. What’s also great about this partnership is that USA CRITS 2021 D1 men’s and women’s teams will be invited to compete in the 2022 Tour Series, adding a welcome international flavour to next year’s domestic racing calendar.
Domestic women’s teams firm up programmes for coming weeks…
Britain’s UCI Continental women’s squads are on the verge of beginning their season’s campaigns. Drops – Le Col s/b Tempur are on the startlist for ‘opening weekend’ at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February) where the squad will compete against select other British riders including Canyon-SRAM’s Hannah Barnes, Lizzie Deignan at Trek-Segafredo and Abby-Mae Parkinson at Lotto Soudal amongst others. Drops include our journal contributor Lizzy Bennett in their team for the race, as well as classics specialist Marjolein Van’t Geloof, who features in the first episode of our new podcast series (out tomorrow).
Drops – Le Col is also set to tackle Le Samyn des Dames on Tuesday 2 March and the Healthy Ageing Tour (9-12 March), alongside AWOL O’Shea and CAMS-Tifosi. Looking further ahead into March, the squad has also been invited to join Ghent-Wevelgem (28 March), the Tour of Flanders (4 April) and the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix (11 April). Quite the programme.
Keep up to date with our domestic women’s calendar here.
…as do the men’s teams
A busy calendar is also developing for Britain’s men’s Continental outfits too, with the action beginning in earnest in March with Canyon dhb SunGod hopping across to Belgium to tackle Le Samyn (2 March) and Grote Prijs Jean-Pierre Monseré – Roeselare (7 March).
Meanwhile, both Trinity Racing and the Great Britain team has been selected to compete in the Paris-Roubaix Espoirs (13 May). The full men’s domestic team schedule can be tracked here.
The road season is starting to get into a rhythm now with plenty of results starting to come in with some positive finishes for a number of Brits.
Already, we’re well underway with the first WorldTour event of the season with four stages already in the books at the controversial UAE Tour. Highlights so far include a stunning battle for stage three victory between Adam Yates and Tadej Pogacar. The Ineos Grenadier launched numerous attacks in the closing kilometres of the stage, but Pogacar managed to sneak through to take victory. Yates is currently second in the GC, 43 seconds down on the Slovenian’s lead.
A second-place on the final stage of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var (19-21 Feb, UCI 2.1) put Tao Geoghegan Hart tenth overall, just 26 seconds down on winner Gianluca Brambilla. Also performing strongly in the British contingent was Alpecin-Fenix’s Ben Tulett – just 19 years old – who took 17th in the GC and 6th in the youth competition. Simon Carr also finished in the top 20, finishing 19th for EF Education-Nippo.
There was a cracking result in the latest one-day race too as Gabriel Cullaigh finished seventh as part of the front group at the Clasica de Almeria (14 February UCI 1.Pro) for Movistar.
One unusual result came from the other side of the world as Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling’s Scottish track and road specialist Mark Stewart finished second in the New Zealand road race championships. The New Zealand Cycling Federation allowed Stewart to race, despite not officially eligible to ride. It meant his result did gain him any UCI point, but it was nonetheless an impressive display against some class opposition. Canyon dhb SunGod’s Ryan Christensen was fourth.
The Wairarapa Times-Age explains Stewart travelled to New Zealand in March 2020 to visit his girlfriend. A few days later, the borders closed. To compound matters, Stewart was dropped from the British Cycling track programme shortly after that. He’s made the best of the situation though, and his incredible story will feature in a forthcoming podcast episode.
The thorny issues of Brexit and Covid have been hitting the cycling headlines recently. The good news is that British Cycling and DCMS have agreed that riders representing GB, UCI Continental riders and riders earning over £13,500 qualify for ‘elite status‘, allowing them to travel abroad to race. Unfortunately, the dispensation doesn’t cover junior riders or riders in elite-level teams. As Tom Portsmouth outlines in his recent journal post, the current mixture of Brexit and Covid restrictions means the situation is also far from straightforward for riders seeking to live and race abroad.
You can read British Cycling’s helpful FAQs on Brexit here. The Cyclists’ Alliance has also stepped forward to support to British riders to live and race abroad.
Any British riders requiring support for:— The Cyclists’ Alliance (@Cyclists_All) February 12, 2021
➡️travelling to races or training outside the UK
➡️ensuring you have correct VISAs and/or work permits based on your individual circumstance
➡️ Exemption Declaration Application Process with British Cycling
Pls contact us!
And if you haven’t done so already, click here to sign the petition asking the government to work with the EU for visa-free permits to allow sporting professionals, athletes and young athletes to travel freely for training and competition across the 27 member states.