British Cycling launches campaign to develop safer road race skills

Drive aims to plug skills gap in growing UK racers

British Cycling has launched a long-term campaign today to drive home messages about safe and responsible road racing skills – and improve riders’ tactics at the same time.

The BC-led Racesmart campaign, supported by top pros, aims to foster a basic level of core skills and knowledge for all road racers, regardless of their category or level. Advice includes where riders should be positioned on the road, a reiteration of the rule not to cross the central white line and the hand signals used to indicate hazards.

The governing body says the campaign, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the world, has been developed to cater for an “evolving” sport, where many participants come to the sport with varying levels of skills and experience.

Jonathan Day, cycle sport manager at British Cycling, said: “The sport’s evolving all the time and it’s growing – there are more events and more riders which is fantastic, but we just need to evolve with it.

“We’re well aware that people are coming into this sport from a variety of backgrounds… what we’re doing with Racesmart is that it’s a reference point for everybody, regardless of their experience.

“I think Racesmart will get some positive messages out there around the need to race responsibly and at the same time look to give people some good tips and advice about how to race.”

British Cycling has filmed a series of YouTube videos that are linked to the Racesmart campaign, with tips on effective road racing. Subjects include forming a break and chasing one down, how to move up in a bunch and how to ride in strong winds.

Though British Cycling insists the Racesmart campaign isn’t linked, In 2013, two cyclists died while competing in road races after colliding with oncoming vehicles. Another rider died this year at a track meet in Portsmouth. British Cycling said such events were extremely rare.

In 2013, domestic pro James Moss highlighted a skills gap in domestic road racing which made competing more dangerous. He said a declining club culture and the prevalence of individualised training plans which encourage riders to cycle alone were partly to blame.

The campaign has the backing of top pros and team managers. Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas said: "Racing on British roads was a really important part of my early career and riders can help shape its future by using their heads and learning how to race safely and responsibly on open roads.”

And Olympic silver medal winner, Lizzie Armitstead (Boels Dolmans Cycling Team), added: “I think this campaign can really help raise awareness of the key skills and etiquette needed to race effectively.

“So much of road racing is about being aware of your competitors and while you obviously focus on your own race, you have a responsibility to respect everyone around you. No one likes to crash and by racing smart, crashes can be prevented.”

According to British Cycling, the number of UK road races has increased 11 percent since 2011.

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