The board of British Cycling met on Saturday and high on the agenda was the stimulation of road cycling at a grass roots level. In the pages of Cycling Weekly, British Cycling has been attacked over its supposed preference for backing its high-profile, grant-aided elite racers rather than focus on the domestic racing calendar.

British Cycling announces package of measures to stimulate grass roots road cycling

Following the meeting, British Cycling’s president and chairman of the board, Brian Cookson, released the following statement:

"Evidence is already showing the concerns of many of our members on this matter, and we certainly believe that there is both the need and the opportunity to take some serious immediate action to stimulate growth in this area.

"We are therefore announcing a package of measures to stimulate fourth and third

category road racing during the 2003 season."

These measures will revealed in depth to delegates at British Cycling’s National Council

and AGM on Sunday 24th November but, in short, include:

Board member Keith Butler will supervise the co-ordination of a season-long national competition for third and fourth category competitors. He will be seeking local organisers to run heats in each of the regional Divisions, using a simple formula aimed at

giving all abilities the opportunity to compete. The Board will underwrite this competition and seek a sponsor. Brian Cookson will organise the grand finale of

this competition on a circuit in the North West of England. Those who may have been unsuccessful in the heats will also get the opportunity to compete at the finale, in consolation events.

To stimulate additional new events, British Cycling will refund the permit fee to the organiser of every fourth-category only event held in 2003, including those already on the calendar. There are currently only 17 such events planned, and British Cycling challenges Divisions, clubs and organisers to work with it to bring this number to 100.

The board of British Cycling has also decided that, to allow fairer levels of competition, no rider who has held a licence at third, second, first or elite category within the last five years, will be eligible to hold a fourth category licence in 2003. Riders from those higher categories who may not have competed for some time, or who may be dropping down thecategories, will not be permitted to fall below third category. This

will re-instate the original intention behind the fourth category, which

was intended to be a novice category.

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