THERE are plans to organise a major cycle race in Scotland next year as a Glasgow 2014 legacy event, Scotland on Sunday has learned.
The proposal is for a cycling festival in or around Glasgow modelled on this weekend’s RideLondon, which includes an elite women’s race, a 100-mile mass participation ride and today’s men’s professional London-Surrey Classic, with a field that includes Sir Bradley Wiggins.
The flagship event at the Scottish festival would be a top-class women’s road race, part of next year’s UCI World Cup. The proposal was welcomed by Brian Cookson, president of the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, and by Katie Archibald, the Scot who finished seventh in the Commonwealth Games women’s road race.
“It would be amazing,” said Archibald. “I’m not in a team that is racing at World Cup level but I’d 100 per cent want to do it. It’d be a privilege to be riding at that level. But, even from a spectator point of view, it’d be wonderful.”
Cookson, who attended the Commonwealth Games road races in Glasgow, said: “I spoke with people from EventScotland and Glasgow last weekend and this is one of a number of ideas they have to keep organising major events in Scotland.”
“It sounds like a great idea and it’s something I’m very much in favour of,” added Cookson, pictured.
“But they must coordinate with British Cycling. If it’s in line with British Cycling’s strategy, and we can find space on the calendar, it’s a great idea.”
The gold medallist in Glasgow, Lizzie Armitstead, currently leads the UCI women’s World Cup, a nine-race series that includes such iconic races as the Tour of Flanders, Flèche Wallonne and the GP de Plouay-Bretagne, this year’s final event on 30 August.
It was David Millar, who finished 11th in the men’s road race in Glasgow, who led calls afterwards for a new top-level race in Scotland after comparing the crowds to the Tour de France.
“Maybe we should organise a race up here, a cool one-day race, a World Tour race,” said Millar.
He continued: “The course was fantastic, the race was amazing, and the crowds would match any single Classic or Tour de France stage we have ever seen. It doesn’t get any better than that. The organisation has been incredible and the support matches any great sporting event in the world, so I don’t see why we don’t start trying to host more events.”
Cookson echoed Millar’s comments: “It was a brilliant event, a great spectacle, and great to see so many people out watching. The women’s race was, if anything, even more exciting than the men’s. But it only confirmed that we’ve become a nation, or nations, of cycling fans.”
According to sources close to the plans the new event is unlikely to be on the same course as that used by the Commonwealth Games, with the costs of closing the city centre potentially prohibitive.
Cookson also welcomed the proposal to have the women’s race as the centrepiece – with a men’s race aimed initially at domestic riders, with a longer-term plan to attract the big continental teams – and said it could consolidate Great Britain’s position as a centre for women’s racing, with this year’s inaugural Women’s Tour a huge success.
“It’s showing what can be done,” said Cookson. “It’s underlining what I’ve said for quite a while, that women’s racing doesn’t have to be secondary or bolted on to men’s races. We’re showing that women’s racing is an attractive proposition in its own right.”