Two months of silence casts doubt over test event

Photo by Adam Lederer, 2006 – via Flickr

It’s now two full months since the last news update from DerbyWheel. The most recent news article posted on the website was April 12; and the revised ‘open message to cyclists around the world’ was dated April 17.

The website continues to state in several places that the exhibition event will take place in ‘the first half of 2024’. But with only two weekends left in the first half of 2024, it’s now apparent that this won’t be happening.

This will make it the sixth date in the last 12 months to have been publicly announced, and then postponed.

July’s track calendar isn’t quite as busy as June’s, which might make it feasible to fit something into the schedule. But with the Olympics barely a month away – the opening ceremony is July 26 – many prospective participants, organisers, suppliers and venues will already have their minds on Paris.

The Newport velodrome, lined up as the location for the exhibition event, has been commandeered by British Cycling for its pre-Olympics holding camp, ahead of every games since Athens 2004 – although we haven’t seen an announcement about it yet for this year.

So a July date is looking highly unlikely.

Slippage until after the Olympics will change the nature of the test event, and DerbyWheel’s early rounds. With the UCI situation still unresolved, any events held prior to Paris would have mainly featured lower-ranked riders with less to fear from a UCI sanction.

After Paris, we’re likely to see better-known riders, who feel their international career has now peaked – and it’s time to cash in. The presence of bigger names will raise the stakes: the event will launch with a bigger bang, which could help it get established quicker – but it’s more important to get everything right first time.

We understand there have been moves to improve communication with riders in recent weeks. Travel expenses have been repaid. Equipment is being finalised. Things are definitely happening.

And on some level, it’s encouraging that DerbyWheel management have taken the brave and presumably costly decision to cancel their plans, in order to get things right.

In the last day or two, the ‘open message to cyclists’ has been removed from the homepage of the DerbyWheel website. It suggests a recognition of the negative signal of highlighting a missed commitment so prominently on their digital presence. But there are other references elsewhere on the website, which won’t be so easily removed.

It’s usually good advice that if you have nothing to say, then say nothing. But DerbyWheel ceased to be a secret six months ago. There is a cost to going quiet.