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Disappointment as family cycle day replaces Bike Blenheim Palace
THOUSANDS of cyclists may not get another chance to take part in a popular annual event because of a lack of funding.
The annual Bike Blenheim event was cancelled this year after organisers couldn’t find a sponsor despite their “significant efforts”.
It has instead been replaced by a family biking day taking place in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, tomorrow.
And there are fears the larger event, which has been running for five years, may not return at all.
Organisers said they might revert back to staging similar events in the future, but have been unable to say when.
Kelvin Driscoll of Cowley, Oxford, last year took his family to Bike Blenheim and said he was disappointed it was not going ahead this year.
He said: “It was the first time we had been and afterwards my youngest Dylan, seven, took up track cycling. It really inspired him.
“We were quite disappointed to find out it wasn’t going ahead this year. The new event sounds good but it’s not quite the same.”
Every year the event, run by Blenheim Palace, has attracted thousands of cyclists from all across the country, including Paralympic gold medallist Sarah Storey.
Last year it saw its biggest attendance so far, with almost 15,000 people flocking to the event, compared with the average number of visitors of 4,000.
It was the first time the event ran over two days.
But in January organisers decided to cancel the event, because of funding problems.
Blenheim chief executive John Hoy said: “In recent years we have hosted the major cycling event, but it is not taking place this year because we didn’t have a title sponsor and it was just too expensive for us to stage the event ourselves without that support.
"We might revert back to staging such an event in future years but in the intervening period this family cycling day is a lovely way to keep such an activity in our calendar.
“We hope to get a good turnout on Sunday from those in the locality who want to test themselves around the park – and don’t be fooled, it is very undulating and pretty steep in places – and we will then assess how to take this forward, but we would expect to stage something similar again in 2014.”
The Oxonian Cycling Club had a stand at last year’s Bike Blenheim. Captain Gavin Tillson said: “We recruited a number of new members at the event. It's a shame it’s not happening. I know a lot of riders from last year enjoyed it and there would be demand.”
Standard Blenheim Palace admission prices apply for the event tomorrow, which involves a 2.5km and 6.5km route for cyclists. See blenheimpalace.com for more details.
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