After months of arguing over who had the rights to a popular Lincoln cycling event, organisers of the Lincoln Festival of Cycling have cancelled three of the planned challenges.
As previously reported, supporters of this year’s festival were expecting a bumper programme of events when it was launched in November 2015.
The festival would follow on from the internationally recognised event in 2015, with the British Cycling National Road Championships bringing in thousands of spectators.
Confusion arose however when a new Lincoln Sportive was added to the festival line-up, on the same day, time and location as another company’s race.
ITP Events, who have run the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive separately for the past five years, and the organisers of the Lincoln Grand Prix (a 60-year-old elite race) both claimed rights to host a sportive on Saturday, May 14, 2016 from Yarborough Leisure Centre.
After taking over the running of the Lincoln Grand Prix, local businessman Dan Ellmore set his sights on hosting the sportive under the ‘Lincoln Festival of Cycling’ banner, leaving cyclists unsure of which event to sign up to.
Legal battles ensued between the two groups and festival organisers have now announced the Lincoln Criterium, Lincoln Sportive and Lincoln Uphill Dash have been scratched off the programme.
Dan Ellmore said in a statement: “The Velo Club Lincoln and the Lincoln Festival of Cycling organisers are left with no other choice despite their unprecedented efforts to reach an agreement with ITP Events regarding the Sportive.”
He added that the three day format of the 2016 event would have been made possible by cross funding the additional events from the income generated by the Sportive, therefore the cancellation of other events on the schedule was necessary.
A group statement has been issued, including the following: “A small amount of the event’s finances were invested in having solicitors and subsequently London Barristers confirm that The Velo Club Lincoln own the rights to the name ‘Lincoln Grand Prix’ which as we are all aware is a 60-year-old event.
“Despite this confirmation ITP Events has continued to promote their event as part of the Festival of Cycling weekend and threaten legal action against us, the organisers.”
He added that ITP Events required £20,000 to buy the event and let the team run Lincoln GP Sportive as an official part of the weekend.
Private investment was said to have been secured, however negotiations broke down and due to time constraints the organisers decided to pull out.
He added: “The Velo Club Lincoln still dispute the use of the name Lincoln Grand Prix by ITP Events, and the ITP Events Sportive is in no way connected to or part of the Lincoln Grand Prix or Lincoln Festival of Cycling.”
The group stated that they had also written to ITP Events about financial and safety concerns raised by the Safety Advisory Groups, alleging that there were “serious concerns” about the lack of safety planning.
ITP Events has disputed comments about finances and safety, as well as allegations of misuse of branding, stating they have never used the ‘Festival of Cycling’ in any of their promotions.
Director of ITP Events Ian Penrose claims the rights to the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive are his. He told The Lincolnite: “We’ve run the Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive for the last five years as a separate event, set up as a commercial entity. We’ve put a lot of time and investment into the event.
“The event has huge commercial value and is well regarded in the market. If someone wanted to take it off me that would have been fine.
“What they can’t do however is say ‘you’ve had five years and now we’re going to take it’.
“The safety comments are completely unjustified. We have a good safety record. Last year we had over 1,600 riders and needed an ambulance just once for a minor collision. It’s utter nonsense.
“If the situation hadn’t been taken with such a confrontational attitude we could have worked together to make more profit and a better experience for the riders.
“I feel like after last year’s championships there was potential for a huge marketing launch together and a huge benefit to the local economy. Now the opportunity has been totally ruined. I wouldn’t rule out working together in future, but overall negotiations have been bitter.”