A sportive and an elite road race crossed paths at the weekend, and almost resulted in a sportive rider being hit by an oncoming race bunch.
The incident happened at the Yorkshire Region Road Race near Saxton, south of Tadcaster, on Sunday and was caught on video. The road race bunch was turning left and, because traffic had been temporarily suspended, used the full width of the road.
Just off camera, a group of sportive riders are heard arguing with a marshal, while some ignore the legal order to stop. They trickle through into the oncoming race, resulting in a Kelme jersey-wearing sportive cyclist almost riding into the bunch of race cyclists.
Video: Sportive riders argue with race marshal
Over the audio, a sportive rider is heard arguing with the marshal: “They’re not coming you idiot. Have I ever raced? I’ve organised 54 races and I’ve raced a lot so don’t you tell me what you’re talking about, you prat.”
This means trained volunteers are given powers to temporarily control – and stop – all traffic during a road race.
British Cycling has called for an official calendar of sportive events to be created to avoid such incidents in future.
Below the YouTube video in the comments, Richard Houghton, who BikeRadar believes is connected with the race organisation said: “We operate under a formal Temporary Traffic Regulation Order, which empowers us to formally close the road, in order to see the race safely through Give Way junctions etc. The marshal was acting quite correctly, in that the closure applies to ALL road users. The actions of the guy in blue and white were wholly reckless and endangered himself and the race competitors. The marshal clearly had to shout, as cyclists were ignoring his 1050 x 750cm "Road Closed" sign...”
The video highlights a tension between road races and sportives. While sportives don’t need the permission of police and local authorities to use a road – though it’s considered best practice to warn them – road races do. Races can be cancelled if police believe there is a safety risk or it will cause undue disruption.
Paul Summers, the race organiser, declined to comment, saying the race had two worthy winners and he didn't want to detract from the event. The senior race was won by Dean Downing (NFTO).
A statement from British British Cycling said: "This video is a perfect illustration of why the lack of any form of calendar co-ordination and regulation around sportives is a serious concern that needs to be urgently addressed.
"Over the last three years, there has been an unprecedented growth in the number of sportives, with an almost 200 percent increase in the number of events that were registered through British Cycling alone. We’re asking the government to take action to ensure that cycling events on the public highway are better co-ordinated through an agreed process. These measures would aim to reduce the risk of clashes, improve event standards and provide an environment where both competitive and non-competitive events can run in harmony to meet increased demand.”
BikeRadar has attempted to contact the sportive organiser for comment.
Update: the rider heard arguing with the marshal on the video was not in fact involved with the sportive, it has come to light. According to a statement from the marshall on Road CC, the rider in question was a father riding the race route in reverse.
The marshal in question, Scott Weston, wrote:
"Firstly the rider I can be heard arguing with is NOT a charity cyclist. He is riding the race route in reverse to observe his son who is racing the road race.
"He is a gentleman who has organised many races and is well respected by a good number of people in the Yorkshire cycling community.
"He also obeyed the road closures. I can only assume a moment out of character for his outburst.
"The issue is with the charity riders that ignored my panicked instructions, and rode through the road closure.
"They were however the only riders to do this during the three hours of the race, during which time hundreds of friendly compliant charity riders passed by and obeyed the eight closures when forced to do so and with good spirit.
"I am sorry that the argumentative rider has been named on various forums, I purposely avoided this to save him any personal insult.
"Unfortunately I have been informed that he has been the victim of some less than savoury personal correspondence, which I would not condone.
"I did not expect this video to have such far reaching implications, and only posted it to three sites to show riders in the race why they faced oncoming cyclists on this particular lap."