The Ballinrobe Three-Day was a hugely popular event last year but the host club, Western Lakes CC, feel so aggrieved by a dispute with Cycling Ireland over scheduling that they are pulling the event from the calendar this year. And in more bad news they are also pulling a two-day, a crit and four other open races which they have run for several years.
By Brian Canty
The Irish domestic road racing scene has suffered a huge setback before the season has even started with the news that 10 races have been pulled from the 2017 calendar by one club.
The Mayo-based Western Lakes CC have taken the drastic measure today, Thursday, as they feel they have been put in an impossible position by Cycling Ireland with regards organising a race.
In a statement tonight released by the club they said the position the sport’s governing body have put them in is “intolerable”.
The whole saga appears to centre around the club’s desire to uphold the date of their very popular Ballinrobe Three Day event, held in August for 13 years as a two-day, but last year brought forward to May.
They said the feedback on their three-day last year from riders, officials and teams was “extremely positive”.
They tried to do the same for this year with a May staging of the event and were originally approved by Cycling Ireland to host the three-day then but have since had their request rescinded.
And when that development unfolded, so too did a very ugly chain of events.
The statement released tonight reads: “As late as January 2017 Cycling Ireland informed us that we could not run the three-day on the May Bank Holiday weekend. The rule they cited for their decision was the following, calendar rule G8.5:
Approval for an Event not previously entered on the calendar may be granted by the Provincial Secretary, but only after consultation with and approval from the Promoter, of any race scheduled for that day in an adjacent province with the exception of Sundays.
The club continued: “It is clear from the above that this rule is not applicable to WLCC as the race was indeed ‘previously entered on the calendar’ in 2016.
“Therefore, Cycling Ireland has no grounds whatsoever to prevent our race going ahead.
“They are quoting their own rulebook to us in error. In fact, they themselves sanctioned the 2016 race and put it on their calendar and the race went ahead.
“Once the race went ahead a precedent had been set which makes Rule G8.5 irrelevant in this instance.
“Once we pointed this out, they quoted a completely different rule (G8.10) to justify their decision:
In preparing the road racing calendar, dates will be reserved in advance of seeking general race applications for the following: All National Road Championships; National League dates; Established race dates; All Provincial Road Race Championships, which should take place on the same weekend.
“The position Cycling Ireland is putting a progressive club like WLCC in is intolerable. We are working every day to promote cycling in the West of Ireland,” Western Lakes CC added.
“In 2016, WLCC ran more open road races than any other club in Ireland and a third of all the open road races in Connacht.
“There comes a time when a stance must be made and where clubs must face up to the national governing body.
“We have made several attempts with Cycling Ireland over the last number of weeks to resolve the issue, but have faced officialdom and bureaucracy at every turn.
“Therefore, faced with no other option, WLCC has decided to cancel our entire open road racing programme for 2017 in protest against Cycling Ireland’s position.
“It is the riders who are losing out here due to the position this governing body has taken.
“We apologise to our fellow riders, who will not have the opportunity to participate in our races in Connacht, but we hope they and our fellow clubs around the country will understand our stance.
“We believe we are being treated poorly by Cycling Ireland and while it’s OK to run a three day in Ulster and Munster, it does not appear to be acceptable to run one in Connacht on the same weekend.”
We will have more on this story as we get it.