Elite-level cyclo-cross makes its return this weekend, with the first event of the HSBC UK | Cyclo-cross National Trophy Series being run as a test event at Westmorland County Showground from 3 – 4 October. The event will feature a range of new measures to ensure the safety of riders, their families and event volunteers, while retaining the key features of racing which have seen the discipline’s popularity flourish in recent years.

British Cycling has worked closely with the event organiser, Dave Haygarth, to ensure compliance with British Cycling’s guidance for a safe return of cycle sport events – which has received approval from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

New measures which will be in place include:

  • Pit facilities will become bike exchange zones, with no external assistance allowed.
  • There will be no jet wash zones for bike cleaning.
  • Test and trace systems will be in place for all who access the event site.
  • Spectating at the event is strongly discouraged, aside from those accompanying under-18s.
  • The event has been designated as non-ranking, so that riders who are unable to attend due to local travel restrictions are not disadvantaged by non-attendance.
  • A thorough risk assessment is in place to manage movements on the site and prevent larger groups from congregating.

British Cycling Head of Sport and Major Events, Jonathan Day, said: “This will be our first national series event from any discipline since last December, and we are enormously thankful to the event organiser, commissaires, volunteers and Cyclo-cross Commission members who have offered invaluable support over recent weeks.

“Many features of the discipline, such as the dynamics of the racing, event location and duration mean that we are able to deliver most of the racing with limited adaptations. We know that the dynamics of cyclo-cross racing differ from disciplines such as road racing in that soon after the start riders are lined out in single file and spend much of the race in small groups, riding wheel to wheel, spaced out across the whole course.

“We have worked with the organiser to ensure that they comply with Government guidelines and keep all attendees safe. I am sure that riders will be understanding and take the changes on board – as they have done across the disciplines since we lifted the suspension of racing last month.

“This weekend’s event will be a really valuable learning experience for us, which will support our planning for the remainder of the cyclo-cross season as well as our full calendar of events across the disciplines in 2021. We know that everyone in our sport is keen to return to action but in a way which sensibly manages the risks. As such we are constantly reviewing our guidance to ensure that we are in a position to move on to the next stage of the process set out in The Way Forward as soon as the Government guidelines allow.”

The second round of the series is due to take place at Kent’s Cyclopark from 7 – 8 November, before round three in York from 12 – 13 December. The 2021 National Cyclo-cross Championships is scheduled to take place in Crawley from 9 – 10 January. British Cycling is continuing to monitor the spread of Covid-19 and the subsequent changes to Government guidance, and we will work with the organisers of each event to determine whether it is possible for them to proceed.

Rounds which were due to take place in Derby (24 – 25 October) and Taunton (21 – 22 November) have sadly been cancelled at the request of the organisers, however we remain in discussions in the hope of taking the national series to these venues in future years.

Organiser of this weekend’s event at Westmorland County Showground, Dave Haygarth, said: “It’s been a really busy few months’ planning. Working within guidelines is what we event organisers do but dealing with the changing situation with the pandemic has been a challenge. However, the alternative would have been to given in and I’m delighted we’ve been able to continue working on the event for everyone passionate about cyclo-cross.

“I, and all the volunteers involved, do this because we love the sport – simple as that. Dealing with COVID-19 has just meant that we have to work harder to make events like this as safe as possible and it’s come together so well.

“Our friends at British Cycling have been such great support in that, and along with the local event sponsors and helpers, there is a great sense of pride. It’s a small beacon of hope – bringing back competitive sport into the ’new normal’, and learning safe and sensible ways to adapt.”