British Cycling looking for new hosts for 2018 National DH series.

The British downhill scene appears to be in the doldrums, with BDS boss Si Paton pulling out and British Cycling on the hunt for replacement race hosts.

British Cycling’s National Downhill Series – currently sponsored by HSBC UK – has been run by Si Paton and the BDS (British Downhill Series) for many years. But next year it will not be.

Si Paton has hung up his bib and said he isn’t going to be doing it any more. The principal reason being that the events have been losing money due to a shortfall in race entries.

Why are numbers down?

It’s not due to a fall in quality of race or service from BDS – far from it. They’ve excelled themselves at putting on first class events on great tracks with no compromises or shortcuts.

One theory is that the recent boom and spread of uplift days has lured people away from the downhill race scene. Up until quite recently, if you wanted to do some shuttled descending your only option was to do a downhill race. Nowadays almost every part of the UK has somewhere putting on a regular uplift service.

There’s also the lesser theory that enduro racing has nabbed some riders who would have previously entered a downhill event. Whilst we don’t think  enduro has had as much of an impact as uplift days, enduro won’t have helped the downhill scene.

Riders who own 160mm travel trail/enduro bikes aren’t really willing to also own a full-on downhill bike as well. Bikes are expensive enough as it is without having to have two race machines, or a race bike and a regular bike.

British Cycling are currently appealing on their website for new series’ organisers – or even individual race hosts – to contact them with a view to doing the 2018 National Downhill Series.

In the bigger picture, having a less popular National Downhill Series doesn’t bode well for British racing prospects in the UCI World Cup in the future. All the current British riders in the World Cup wouldn’t be where they are today without their experience of starting out in UK National series races.

Uplift days and enduro races are all well and good, but they won’t foster the next generation of British World Cup downhill racers.

Well done Si Paton

What ever happens now, for both Si Paton and for British Cycling’s National Downhill Series, it’s a shame to see the Paton era of British DH racing come to an end. He should be very proud of what he achieved. We look forward to seeing what Si does next.

He’ll be a tough act to follow.

British Cycling statement:

British Cycling has confirmed that the process to apply to host one of the six rounds of the 2018 HSBC UK | National Downhill Series will open shortly, whilst the organisation has also paid tribute to outgoing series organiser, Simon Paton.

Mr Paton has been in charge of the organisation of the country’s premier downhill series since 2008, and British Cycling’s director of cycling, Jonny Clay, has hailed his contribution to the series.

“Simon Paton has played a big role in the development of the National Downhill Series, and he will be a hard act to follow. That said we are determined to see the series continue to grow, starting in 2018.

“British Cycling and HSBC UK will continue to fully support any new organisers interested in tendering for the series or an event within the series, and we look forward to the HSBC UK | National Downhill Series going from strength to strength.”

Tender applications will be open soon, and more details will be available on the British Cycling website.