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Mountain bike national championships called off

Robin Horsfield, will not get the chance to compete in the Mountain Bike National Championships this weekend after the event was postponed in the wake of a recent spike in Covid-19 cases (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Mountain Bike National Championships, scheduled Ferry Reach on Sunday, have been called off, with the Bermuda Bicycle Association hoping to reschedule the event for early July.

The postponement was anticipated after the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, which resulted in further restrictions on gathering for sports and other social events.

“We’re asking the UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale, the world governing body] if we can hold it the first weekend in July,” Peter Dunne, the BBA president said yesterday.

“The last two weekends in June, we have scheduled our time-trial and road race championships, and we thought we would put this right at the end of that.

“All national championships are registered with our international federation, the head of cycling worldwide. If your event is registered with the UCI, then there is an opportunity for the participants to gain ranking points. We have to apply to them for a change of dates, which should not be a problem.”

The championships would have been a good opportunity for Robin Horsfield and Cassandra McPhee to extend their winning streaks after each won five races in the One Communications Mountain Bike Series.

“For Robin Horsfield, it is probably a bigger disappointment because the ranking is probably most applicable to him,” Dunne said. “To get into the UCI World Cup events, which he has participated in in the past, you want to be somewhere on the ranking scale.”

The postponement of the national championships comes after the cancellation of the team time-trial two weeks ago as sport continued to be affected by government restrictions.

Dunne remains hopeful that the Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race on Bermuda Day will go ahead after being cancelled last year amid a raft of disruption on the sporting and cultural calendar.

The cycle race, which alternates years starting from Somerset and St George’s, with finishes at Cedar Avenue, is the most popular race on the cycling calendar, even though it lasts less than a half-hour.

“For us it’s more important to be a part of a community day and we want to be a part of those celebrations,” Dunne said. “But if there is no community element — and we know the parade has already been cancelled — I’m not too sure what it will be like.”

Dunne competed in the race three times in the early 2000s. Now he is tasked with organising the event and has been in regular contact with Gina Tucker, of the Bermuda Day Half Marathon committee, who is also waiting to hear if the road race will go ahead as scheduled on May 28.

“I’ve had some conversations with Gina as our events are run in tandem and there are some logistical issues ,” Dunne said.

“From a cycling perspective, it’s the dinkiest event, something like 28 minutes, but it’s an extremely thrilling event and what makes it exciting is the crowd.

“Every Saturday morning there is a group ride along the same course out of Somerset, but the one time when it is really exciting is when there are spectators along the way — a totally different feel.

“Everyone loves Bermuda Day, the cycling community has inserted itself into that and now it’s an important event for us. If we can’t have those things, I’m not sure it will have the same value.”

Then called the Heritage Day Cycle Race, the race started in 1987 with Sinclair Packwood the first back-to-back winner, in 1992 and 1993. Packwood died in November 1998 at the age of 36 after a short illness, and in 1999 the race was renamed in his memory.

Veteran Greg Hopkins, then the president of the BBA, won the inaugural Sinclair Packwood Memorial Race before 20-year-old Kris Hedges won in 2000 and followed up with two more wins in 2001 and 2002 to become the first rider to secure three straight victories.

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Published April 08, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated April 08, 2021 at 3:56 pm)

Mountain bike national championships called off

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