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Exam concerns halt UK bike race return
A MAJOR cycling event will not return to Oxford this year for fear of disrupting students during their exams.
The Halfords Tour Series shut off St Giles’ for a day when it came to the city for the first time last May.
The third round of the 11-stop UK tour brought more than 100 top cyclist, including London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ed Clancy, to the city.
But Oxford University objected to the one-day event returning this year, the Oxford Mail understands.
Halfords Tour Series spokesman Peter Hodges said: “Unfortunately I believe Oxford had to withdraw from the event because of its timing during May and June and the impact and disruption this was judged to have had on the university during the exam period.”
He added: “We are really disappointed, as I’m sure many cycling fans are, to not be back in Oxford.
“It was a great success last year and our experience with the Tour Series is you really need two or three years at a venue to make the event a real fixture and success, so I am sure it would have been even better.”
Dennis McSweeney, spokes-man for the Oxonian Cycling Club, said it was disappointing the city was missing out.
He said: “It gives people the chance to go and watch fast racing action.
“It’s not the sort of thing you would see unless you went to see the Tour of Britain or Tour de France.”
He said the club had a stall at the event last year, adding: “We had quite a lot of comments that people were enjoying it and since we have had people say how they are looking forward to this year.”
Oxfordshire county councillor Arash Fatemian, who helped bring the event to the city last year, said it was “unfortunate” it would not be returning.
And he said he hoped the county and city councils could help bring the event back.
Last year the day featured a special Varsity race between student cyclists from Oxford and Cambridge.
Hannah McKay, president of the Oxford University Sports Federation, said: “We do think it’s a shame that the event will not run this year.
“However, as an organisation whose responsibility is to contribute towards the overall student experience, we completely understand that since May falls in the middle of the exam period, keeping disruption to a minimum at this important time is paramount for colleges and the university.”
Oxford University declined to comment.
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Sam Henry said: “We understand that Halfords did not put through an application due to concerns from the university, colleges and student union that the event, at this time, would disrupt students taking their exams.”
Oxford City Council spokesman Louisa Dean added: “We need all stakeholders to be engaged with the event for it to happen.”
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