The Scottish Cyclocross Association committee met recently to review the season so far and start planning for next year. High up on the agenda was the change to the course at Auchentoshan for this year's race which has been causing a bit of a stir since the race on 2nd November.
The steep descent, small burn crossing and steep climb back out has been a feature of the Auchentoshan course for many years and so any change to the course was bound to cause a stooshie. Since the race, we've spoken to the event organiser, the commissaires and Scottish Cycling to discuss the matter and as promised, here is further information on the commissaire's decision and the committee's view.
On the morning of the race, the commissaires walked the course with the race organiser to review the risk assessment (compiled in advance of the event) in racing conditions. Three elements of the feature caused concern:
* Pallet covered in chicken wire at river crossing identified as a hazard.
* Drop from pallet (the height of the pallet 14cm) identified as a hazard.
* Water crossing identified as being not in line with Cyclocross rules (Scottish Cycling Technical Regulation 12.9.8: Courses shall not be directed through water where an alternative route avoiding it can be found).
To mitigate the hazards, the event organiser suggested that a permanent first aid and marshalling point should be situated in the area. This was agreed with the commissaire. However, an alternative route was identified which took the course away from all of these hazards and the commissaire was asked by the organiser to decide which line to take. The commissaire took the latter option and this was agreed to by the organiser. The course was re-routed and a marshal moved to another point on the course.
The Scottish Cyclocross Association fully support the decision of the commissaire, who made their decision in the best interests of our riders.
The courses selected for the Scottish Cyclocross series have to cope with a variety of skills and experience - from the youngest of the U14s to the oldest of the V50s and from novices to Commonwealth Games athletes. They also have to cope with a continued increase in numbers that saw record numbers race at Auchentoshan this year. Furthermore, cyclocross as a sport has changed over the years with courses becoming "tamer" and it has carved out a distinct offroad niche, separate to XCO.
Scottish Cyclocross courses have changed too, with new courses being assessed for suitability before being used for a series race and we have seen a number of proposed courses rejected or fall out of use over recent years. However, it would be a great shame if a well loved courses like Auchentoshan were to lose their unique character and we hope that the Splosh can return to the 'Tosh in future.
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