The Tickhill Grand Prix has come a long way in a very short time. The small club from which it was born, Tickhill Velo, was only founded in September 2012, and with such a huge interest in the race’s first year, organiser Richard Stoodley is already looking at bigger things. ‘Our hope for year one was just to make sure it ran smoothly’ says Richard, all too modestly. ‘Year two is huge for us. We have come out blazing and now need to perform for all the riders, spectators and sponsors involved to keep that momentum going. We aim to be one of the best races in 2014 and we know people’s eyes are on us.’
‘After the success of 2013, everybody said how well run and organised it was, and so the natural decision with the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire this year was to make it bigger.’ Capitalising on both Tickhill GP’s initial success and it’s conjunction with the Grand Depart seems a no-brainer, especially when Tickhill, the embodiment of a small, quiet Yorkshire town, has done everything it can to make sure it fully benefits from staging the event. ‘Doncaster Council and Tickhill Town Council have been incredibly helpful and have done their best to facilitate this difficult process.’
With that in mind, the problem won’t be attracting riders and spectators come August. In fact the main obstacles are on Richard’s front door. ‘The biggest challenge this year has been with the police and – despite their understanding – the council. It has been difficult getting them to agree the nine hour road closure required to put on the full range of races we want.’ Obtaining sponsors hasn’t been a walk in the park either, but that’s where Richard’s expertise comes in. Making his living as a freelance auctioneer, he has been an asset in recruiting the wealth of sponsors Tickhill GP needs to operate. ‘Getting the sponsorships is very difficult as we have a vision, but it is hard to try and get people to trust what you say you are going to do with no ‘history’. In the end it all came down to me to set the goal posts for 2014 and find the budget to cover what we planned.’
Even with the standard Tickhill has already set, it’s the sponsors that are essential to its continuing success. Without them, all that has been achieved simply would not be possible. BikeBoxAlan, last year’s main sponsor, supplied the £450 bike box prize for the main event, which was finished in spectacular style. ‘There were about 70 riders, two of whom went off at the front and maintained it with a sprint finish – Andy Robinson narrowly beating Michael Timmins on the line.’ Perhaps it was the riders’ knowing they could come out with a shiny new bike box that made the event such a memorable one. ‘Overall, it was a sunny day, and no real bad crashes. Riders loved the commentary and the circuit.’
When asked if this year’s event was on course for similar entertainment, Richard replied ‘We were getting entries in as early as February, and they’re still coming. We have a good interest and have made verbal promises with men and women from the top teams. This year we’ve made a conscious effort to give the women’s racing an equal standing with the men both in terms of prize money and length of the race.’ But what about things from a local perspective? How is the town and its people expected to react? ‘Spectators cannot wait and virtually the whole village is behind the event. We have been pro-active in promoting to other clubs, sponsors, and teams and with some great online coverage this year’s event is simply not to be missed.’
An unabridged version of this conversation will appear in issue two of Cyclr’s digital magazine.
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