Classic set for weekend final Covid restrictions are lifted

Mid-Devon CC chairman Mike Gratton

Mid-Devon CC chairman Mike Gratton - Credit: Mid-Devon CC

The decision to go ahead with this year's Dartmoor Classic cycle marathon was driven by the enthusiasm of riders after last year's postponement, says new Mid-Devon CC chairman Mike Gratton.

The organising club recently confirmed the 14th edition of the Newton Abbot-based 4,000-rider 'sportive' on Sunday, June 20 - the same weekend the Government has set for the final lifting of Covid-lockdown restrictions.

Former vice-chairman Gratton took over the chair at the club's recent annual meeting and he revealed: "It was a difficult decision for us to have to make, because we had to ask ourselves - what's the right thing to do?

"We had to think how the public might perceive all those riders heading across the moor, even if it has been passed as safe.

"But we didn't want to call if off for another year, because we know how much the riders look forward to it, how much money it raises and the spin-off benefits it brings to the area."

Long-standing member and race organiser Gratton believes he has become chairman at a dynamic time for the South West's biggest cycling club.

"The one thing that lockdown has done is get plenty of people back riding their bikes," he said. "There's a lot of pent-up demand.

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"As a club, the new improvements at the Torbay Velopark are going to be exciting, and we'll be busy maintaining the Classic and promoting the high-quality events that we're known for.

"We are also working very hard with our young members, many of whom will have missed 18 months racing at junior and youth level.

"We've often had talented riders from 8-18.  But too many of them 'discover' other things, drift away and then return when they're about 40.

"We're trying to create a real pathway which will hopefully keep them with us into their senior careers."

The club's 2021 race programme opens with tomorrow morning's Good Friday Hilly Time Trial - Bovey and Teign Valleys - which has attracted a record and high-quality field of more than 100 riders.