AMBITIOUS plans for a cycle race - predicted to bring a £200,000 boost to the struggling town centre - have been punctured after council bosses put the brakes on its funding.
Committee members at Rotherham Wheelers Cycling Club, Active Rotherham and sponsor JE James hoped to hold a criterium circuit race on the August bank holiday weekend after a successful time trial event last year.
But Doug Manning, secretary at the Wheelers, said the event had been cancelled due to a lack of commitment and funding from the council.
He added: “It’s absolutely infuriating. We had been planning it since last year’s event.
“We had done all of the costings, we had a sponsor and we thought we had the nod. Then, out of nowhere, we were told we hadn’t got the funding.”
Mr Manning said a similar annual event - the Doncaster Festival of Cycling - was worth £200,000 to the town’s economy each year.
“I don’t know the exact amount of funding we needed but we’re talking thousands,” he said. “It wasn’t a vast amount.
“We shadowed one of the organisers at the Doncaster event and they said it brought £200,000 into the town on the day.
“That sort of amount would have far outweighed the amount of funding we needed.”
The event would have seen cyclists from across the country taking on a circuit starting and finishing outside Rotherham Town Hall and passing along Westgate and Alma Road.
Its cancellation comes a week after the borough’s omission from the route of the 2019 UCI Road World Championships.
Mr Manning said: “The criteria for getting the bigger events will include the town having held cycling events in the past.”
Mr Manning said the club would press ahead with planning a race for 2018 for all riders from juniors to the elite - although he said council funding would be vital.
Mark Hible, Rotherham Borough Council’s sport and activity development officer, said the council remained committed to hosting a cycling event in the future.
He added: “We know such an event will attract more visitors to our lovely town, but we also need to ensure the route is safe for both riders and spectators and that sufficient sponsorship is in place to balance the overall costs.”