Sunday, June 20, 2021
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Tom Copeland – his entry to the Nationals … Can someone explain please?

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VeloVeritas is heading down to the British National Elite Road Race Championship on the 27th of this month. We thought we’d check in with ‘our’ boys, Hamish Haynes, Dan Fleeman, Dan Patten and Tom Copeland to tell them we’d be around to pester them, and to lend a hand with bike prep, feeding and anything else they might need. Here’s what Tom Copeland had to say to us, in reply:

Tom Copeland
Tom Copeland.

“Hi, yeah, sent off an entry two months ago; they told me yesterday – 19 days before the race – that my entry has been refused.

“I’ve already booked flight, hotels and made travel arrangements. I’m gutted!

“Because I race in France I have no BC points and so I don’t meet their entry criteria of either Elite or top 100 1st cats in the UK concerning the BC rankings. So pretty much – I’ve been shafted.

“Dan Patten is ok because he has still got an elite license, having got BC points last year, I think.

“I can’t get my head round their selections – having got top 30’s in the last 2 national champs and top 8’s in the U23 categories I would have thought that they would have accepted me, but no.

“I’ve been training specifically for the race too, aiming to be on top form at the end of june. So now I won’t even be racing. As I said, I’m gutted.”

I should have put fingers to keyboard earlier but “didn’t have the self discipline to make the time to do it” as an old colleague of mine used to say.

However, I was jolted into action by the good old Cycling Weekly; apparently the National Championships don’t fit in with Bradley’s build up.

However, ‘there’s a space there for him’ says the organiser – but not for Tom, who’s desperate to ride.

And for Brad’s information; Fignon, Hinault, Merckx, Riis, Ullrich – a national champs jersey didn’t do their Tour chances any harm.

But that’s all history and doesn’t help Tom.

‘When I were a lad,’ it wasn’t permitted for foreign based riders to wear their team kit, they had to line up in their British club gear on championship day.

Tom Copeland
Alex Dowsett.

Things have changed in that respect but it doesn’t seem sensible to us that a man who is racing well in the heartland of North West France isn’t given a ride – the standard is higher and he’s regularly competing in UCI races.

VeloVeritas would remind our readers that, Tour of Britain apart, there’s only one UCI race in the UK – The East Midlands Classic, or ‘Rutland’ as it’s popularly known.

The Alex Dowsett’s ’25 mile TT Champs situation’ is similar – here we have a man who’s seventh best under 23 time trial rider in the world but because he hasn’t bashed up and down a dual carriageway recently he can’t ride – ridiculous.

But it’s not all ‘jobsworth’. When Dan Fleeman entered the British Hill Climb Champs last year, he didn’t have a qualifying ride and asked if the winning the Tour of the Pyrennes would do?

The organiser said that would do ‘just fine’.

The organisers of the Vuelta can say ‘No’ to Radio Shack but ‘Yes’ to Galicia – and why not? It’s their race.

Maybe that’s the answer, let the organiser pick 10% ‘wild cards’ based on palmares gained abroad or on the grounds of ‘up and coming?’

Ironically, Tim Harris says that if a rider comes to him to find fame and fortune in Flanders, he totally ignores any results gained in the UK or USA – all that matters is how the pedals turn on the cobbles and bergs.

And when Billy Bilsland got his pro contract with Peugeot, it was the Peace Race and l’Avenir stages that counted. The Milk Race? Not in the equation.

Tom, we’ll miss you at the Nationals, my boy.

Alex image©Silke

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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