Latest – Cheshire Classic cancelled

Image2Organisers of the famous Cheshire Classic, part of the National Road Series, were forced on Friday 26th February to announce the cancellation of the race.

“This is not a decision that I, Andy Wood, as Organiser, or my peers at Weaver Valley Cycling Club, have taken lightly. We (Weaver Valley Cycling Club) tried everything possible to make this year’s race happen. We are disappointed to publish today’s announcement,” reads the official press release, before going on to describe the struggle the organisers have had in trying to make the race abide by the rules set out in the 56-year-old Cycle Racing on the Highway Regulations Act, by which all races on public roads must abide, despite the obvious and enormous changes to the road network in the time since the Act came into being, unless the police agree to waive the regulations – which Cheshire Police are no longer willing to do, despite the Classic having taken place without serious issue for some years.

“We are incredibly sorry to all the riders and the supporters of the race. We know that many have looked forward to this race as part of a major road race series in the women’s calendar. In an Olympic year it is incredibly sad for this to happen when we should be right behind our girls on their way to getting Olympic gold,” it ends.

Having been held every year but one (2001, when it was cancelled due to the BSE crisis), the Classic is one of the oldest still-running events on the British Cycling calendar – really quite remarkable in women’s cycling where races are frequently cancelled after a few years due to sponsorship issues, and testament to the Weaver Valley CC’s determination to support the sport. Consisting of 12 laps of a 7.7km circuit and featuring a tough climb on each, it was for many years arguably the hardest British women’s race too. While newer events such as the Tour of the Reservoir take place on harder courses, the Classic remains a challenge and a much-appreciated opportunity for the athletes to show how good women’s cycling can be. It will be sorely missed this year; hopefully it’ll be back in 2017.


Top Value Cat. 4 Crit at Redbridge 13th March

RCCCat4Cri_modIf you’ve recently become the proud owner of a British Cycling Cat. 4 licence (and you should be, for taking the plunge and embarking on your racing career – good luck and hey, you might turn out to be the next Nicole Cooke!) you’re probably eager to enter your first race. You may be feeling a little nervous about entering one open to riders in the Elite, 1st, 2nd and 3rd categories, however – which is nothing to be ashamed about, because they’re damn fast and, while they’ll support you all the way as you find your way in the sport, life is hard in the peloton… if you’re even in it, of course, which is certainly not a given in your first events.

It’d be a good thing if there were more Cat. 4-only races, but as it is they’re few and far between. So, if you were thinking you’d like to enter one, you’ll probably be interested in the Redbridge CC Lower Circuit Crits on the 12th of March, organised by well-known women’s cycling advocate Alison Sarah. If you’re not familiar with the Redbridge circuit, it’s the ideal venue for riders building up their skills and experience: a dedicated cycling circuit with no cars, but with enough bends to prevent boredom. The lower circuit also misses out The Hoggenberg, the circuit’s short but testing climb. The women’s race begins at 14:00 and lasts for 45 minutes, with online prebooking priced at just £10 – and you might even see yourself in the photos on this website afterwards. Seriously, you should enter.

Want a head start at the Crit?

WERLtdIf the Redbridge CC Crit is to be your very first race or even one of your first races, you can give yourself a massive psychological boost by brushing up your skills and gaining a good knowledge of the circuit by attending the Women’s Eastern Racing League’s race training day which takes place from 10am on the 6th of March, also on the lower circuit. Priced at £22.29 (inc. admin fee) for four hours of instruction, the sessions proved enormously successful in 2015 with no fewer than 50 women going away ready to race – topics covered include everything from the very basic things that will stand you in good stead at your first event (for example, what to do on the start line) to valuable race skills such as cornering, riding in a bunch, moving up through the bunch, pre-race warm-up and much more. The session is conducted by Level 3 British Cycling coach Huw Williams, one of the biggest and best-known supporters of women’s cycling, with expert riders out on the track to offer advice. Other than buying a bike, it’s probably the best thing a new racing cyclist can do.

Both WERL training sessions sold out last year; this event looks set to do the same with only 13 places left available. Secure yours here.


Matrix training camp

The legendary British women’s team On The Drops, racing this year as Matrix powered by Corley Cycles, held a training camp down in their South of France base Limoux last week. In attendance were new riders Isla Rush, Amira Mellor and Alice Cobb, along with longstanding member Harriet Owen.

Follow the team on Facebook for the latest news and photos

RP training camp

RP-Vision, one of Neutral Service’s favourite UK teams, also held a training camp, choosing Spain as their location. The team consists of Natasha Reddy, Emma Clarke, Sophie Black, Connie Hudson, Gabriella Butler and Maddie Gammons – Maddie wrote this blog describing their experiences.

Follow the team on Facebook for the latest news and photos


Les Filles, one of the most popular teams on the British circuit, have a redesigned website. Take a look.

FEBTeam Ford Ecoboost – which, as regular readers will know, is hotly tipped by Neutral Service to win, well, loooooads of stuff this season – has arrived on social media. You can find them on Twitter here, which is great for up-to-the-second news when they’re racing, and on Facebook here – which is great for more in-depth info, like the biographies of team members they’ve been publishing this week.

Velo Girls is a new initiative based around a YouTube channel created by Keira McVitty and Hayley Edwards, two of Britain’s top female competitive cyclists. Precisely what the channel will offer is not yet public, but both the riders are strong advocates for the sport and very active on social media, so it’s going to be very interesting indeed. The big launch is 10th of March – keep an eye on their Facebook page for all the latest.

Amanda Tweedie wrote a fascinating blogpost about her journey into cycling. Read it here.

Drops Cycling are still on their training camp in Spain, and DS Karla Boddy has plenty of photos that’ll make you wish you were there too.


Recommended this Week

Sat 27.02

Velo29 Winter Series #6
Croft Racing Circuit, N Yorkshire, DL2 2PL
Only 22km in length, but there are some good riders signed up (and more will join them in the coming days, with a bit of luck) – a chance to see who’s going to have a good start to the new season

San Fairy Ann Spring Crits #1
Cyclopark, Kent, DA11 7NP
Only five riders signed up atm, but a good distance at 42km

Sun 28.02

Primavera RR
The Old School Rooms, Devon, EX20 3HB
OK, it’d be nice if the E/1/2/3/4 women’s race was a bit longer (it’s 48km, whereas the 3/4 men’s 68km and the E/1/2/3 men’s is 85km), but out in the rolling Devon countryside this is a very good event indeed. It’s also fully booked, making it worth the effort of going along to see it

Wed 02.03

York Sport Cycling Student Race Series #1
York Sport Cycle Circuit, YO10 5FG
Many successful female cyclists don’t discover their racing talent until they’re at university – only three riders are signed up as of now, but if a few more enter on a whim in the next few days this might be a chance to see a star of tomorrow


Photos of the Week


Bikeshed-Bianchi got their season off to a superb start at the South-West Women’s Race Day, held at the Westpoint Centre in Exeter: Emma Cockcroft won overall, with Alexandra Sheehan and Bethan Stubbs taking 4th and 5th and Lucy Gowing in 8th. VeloUK have a report. (© Ryan Maynard Eames)


“We came away with overall win, 2 x 1&2 place stage finishes, great way to kick off! Kit design has gone down very well!” team manager David Walters told Neutral Service. “Jess Duffy needs huge praise for taking the initiative and driving the event onwards. FB comment on event page are glowing!” (© Ryan Maynard Eames)