Milton Keynes looks set to host a round of the Cyclo-Cross World Cup later this year.
Representatives of the UCI, cycling’s governing body, were in town last week to cast their eye over Campbell Park - the potential venue for the event.
If successful – and Simon Burney who has been working with the MK Council in putting the bid together rates the city’s chances as nearly 99 per cent certain – it will be a major coup for the Council and the many thousands who compete regularly in cycling’s premier winter discipline.
Milton Keynes has a thriving bike racing background with racing for all age groups taking place weekly at the National Bowl in the summer and in the 80s and 90s hosted rounds of the prestigious Milk Race, then the country’s top road race.
Burney has spent most of his life involved in bike racing as both a rider and manager at the very top of the sport – he managed the Great Britain mountain bike teams at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and is a UCI technical delegate - and knows exactly what it takes to organise a top event and attract the best riders in the world.
He said: “Campbell Park will make an ideal venue for a major cyclo-cross event.
“It’s naturally a hilly area and only a hundred yards or so from the city centre so is easily accessible for hotels, restaurants and shops.
“Most World Cup races take place away from a city centre so to have an event in the middle of a city as big as Milton Keynes will be something really different.
“And with easy access to Milton Keynes via the motorway network and major airports this will make it easy to get to for the teams, riders and spectators.
“And Campbell Park also will make a great backdrop for TV coverage.”
Richard Duffill, Cycling Development Officer at Milton Keynes Council said: “As part of our aspirations for all cycle sport in Milton Keynes, we aim to give new cyclists of all ages that image of the top professionals in their sport and there’s very few sports we actually do that in.
“The cyclo cross World Cup would give junior riders the opportunity to see really elite cyclists.
“For Milton Keynes it means that we then have to put together a programme of events and training events that the juniors in the city, no matter what their level of ability, will be able to come and have a go.”
The proposed date for the race is Saturday 29 November with a round of the National Trophy Series possibly taking place on the next day making it a double-header racing weekend.
A decision about the Milton Keynes bid will be made by the sport’s World Council next week in the Netherlands just before the 2014 World Championships.