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Announcement from Off-road Commission re Cyclo-Cross World Championships

Announcement from Cycling Ireland Off-Road Commission Regarding Rider Selection for International Events

There will not be a National Team competing at the World Cyclo-Cross Championships at the end of this month. While this decision may come as a disappointment for some, following what has been another successful Irish National Cyclo-cross Championship which showcased the top class racing of our best riders, the long term development of riders is at the core of this decision from the Cycling Ireland Off-road Commission.

In November 2016 three riders were selected to go to the European Cyclo-cross Championships in France. This was a successful trip from a logistics point of view and it is a good target race for us. The riders had mixed fortunes. For 2017 we are aiming to return to the Europeans. We are planning development days during the summer and then, if funds allow, we will aim to head over to England for one of the National Trophy rounds.

Should a rider do well in the Europeans and continue to produce results outside of Ireland we would consider putting a case forward to send him/her to the World Championships in 2018. This development plan that we have considered will need a number of years to bed in and for the talent to come through the ranks. The plan should outlast the current crop of talented riders we have now. This plan has been shaped over the last two years. The growth in cyclo-cross, both in participants and events, has fuelled a new impetus in creating a development path.

A brief overview of the Cycling Ireland Off-road Commission. Who are we?

We are made up of 8 volunteers filling the following roles: Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, DH co-ordinator, XC co-ordinator, CX co-ordinator, Enduro representative and youth development officer. We have a budget from Cycling Ireland which we need to distribute across the three disciplines DH, XC and CX as well as the general work of the commission. When the new members come on to the commission they don’t receive induction training, a big handover document from their predecessor and a sub-committee to work with. They have to grow into the role, learn “on the job”. It can be a steep learning curve. The positions, apart from Chair, are only one year long, but can be renewed indefinitely (apart from the Chair which is only a two year role). There has been quite a big turnover of members in the last 10 years which hampers the follow through of development plans.

Below is an overview of our considerations.

1) We believe everyone would understand that sending a rider to a big international event does not make that rider stronger, faster or a better bike handler. Getting to go to the big international events is a motivational tool. Something to aim for. What makes a better cyclist is structured training and skills coaching.

2) Being the best in Ireland is not good enough to be selected to go to international events. Riders need to show commitment to the sport by competing outside of Ireland e.g. in Britain, up against larger fields of riders. Only then can that rider be judged to see how well they perform. Sending a weak rider to a big international event where he/she can end out well towards the back of the group/race can be a de-motivator and we can risk losing that rider from the sport.

3) We cannot fix what has happened in the past. We all know that there were missed opportunities. We all know individuals who could have been international stars. We can’t go back. We can only look forward.

4) We are only targeting junior and espoir riders. These riders can be seen as having potential to develop. Younger riders should be developed locally, within Ireland. Older riders would have needed to be picked up by teams or would need to try to self-support themselves to achieve results outside of Ireland to be considered for any support. All have to understand that the purse is not big.

5) Cycling Ireland has decreed that riders are not allowed to self-fund themselves to World Championships. They can do that for World Cups provided they have shown good results.

6) The process of sending riders away has the following steps

a. Identifying the event and the timeline required.

b. Sending out for expression of interest – cycling CVs to be returned

c. Reviewing those CVs then making a selection

d. Writing to those who were not selected

e. Contacting those who are selected ensuring passports and licences are in order

f. Selecting support personnel

g. Working with Cycling Ireland to book travel arrangement, van hire, accommodation, kit, spending money

h. Providing riders and support personnel with travel schedules and packing lists

i. Providing publicity around the riders, the event and then the results

j. Post event, tallying up receipts, squaring up out-of-pocket expenses

k. Writing a review of the event and process.

The Cycling Ireland Off-road Commission Annual General Meeting is coming up on Saturday 21 January 2017 in the Carlton Hotel Dublin Airport, meeting at 11:30 and starting at 12:00. All positions are due for renewal with at least 3 of the current volunteers stepping down. We need to get those positions filled so please consider putting yourself forward. All you need to do is to get someone to nominate you and then get enough support to that meeting.

I hope the above has helped to clarify our position and apologies for the long winded explanation.

On behalf of the commission I want to thank all the volunteers from across the country for supporting the sport – as marshals, timekeepers, coaches, course designers, team managers, mechanics and even the wonderful spectators.

Yours in sport

Martin Grimley


Cycling Ireland Off-road Commission


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