Fundraisers hit by cancellation of 100-mile cycling event

The organisers of Vélo South, which was due to take place this Sunday, took account of expected gale-force winds and heavy rain

A 100-mile bike ride that was due to be completed this weekend by thousands of cyclists raising funds for dozens of charities has been cancelled because gale-force winds are expected.

Vélo South was expected to attract 15,000 riders to take on a hilly route around the South Downs in West Sussex on Sunday.

Charities that were due to have riders take part included the Alzheimer’s Society, the British Heart Foundation, the RSPCA and Macmillan Cancer Support, according to the Vélo South website.

In an email sent to people due to take part, organisers said they were expecting heavy rain with gusts of up to 53mph, which could blow riders over or cause collisions.

They were also concerned about falling trees or branches, whether event infrastructure such as safety barriers or feed stations could safely be constructed and increased pressure on emergency services.

"Based on the advice of our third-party health and safety company and our medical team, we have concluded that it would be unsafe for us to attempt to deliver an event of this scale in the forecasted conditions," organisers said.

"We would be unable to guarantee the safety of our participants, spectators, volunteers, contractors and event staff across the 100-mile route, and that is not a risk we are prepared to take.

"All the advice tells us that with less than 60 hours to go until the event starts, the forecast is unlikely to change significantly, so we have opted to make the decision to cancel the event now in order to prevent cyclists travelling to West Sussex and incurring further costs, and to start the process of informing the vast number of people affected by this decision.

The email says organisers are determined to reschedule the event next year and pledges they will work with local authority and agency partners to try to identify an alternative date as quickly as possible.

All participants will be entitled to a full refund of their event entry fees.

"The entire Vélo South team are devastated that the event will not take place on Sunday and we know this is extremely disappointing news for all of our cyclists, stakeholders and supporters, but we hope you understand that the good old British weather has in reality left us with no alternatives," the email said.

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