The 52nd Annual Longsjo Classic has been cancelled due to low rider registration numbers.
“This is a heart wrenching decision,” said Ed Collier, race director for one of the oldest and largest stage races in North America. “I believe it was a perfect storm that contributed to anemic rider numbers.”
After moving to a one-day race in 2011 and subsequently canceling it due to a fire along the proposed course, race organizers secured three new courses for this year after the community rallied to save the race.
“The response of the community has been incredible,” said Collier. “It is ironic that we have secured more support than ever for this race, in terms of raising money and securing the support of local officials, but we can’t have a world-class event with a dearth of riders.”
A host of factors contributed to sluggish registration number according to race organizers. The sport is moving away from multi-day races to one-day events, where cyclists strive for personal best times.
Collier also added that the economy didn’t help. “For a recreational racer, who is raising a family and trying to make ends meet, it can turn into a $1,000 weekend when you figure in travel, lodging, food and time away from work.”
Since most races have moved exclusively to online registration, it has become a double edge sword according to Collier. “While it is easier to register, riders now wait to the very last minute to sign up, which makes it very difficult to get a handle on the numbers.”
In the case of the Longsjo, they needed a minimum of 550 riders to break even. As of today they had 160 riders signed up. “Since folks need to make hotel and travel arrangements, it isn’t fair to wait to the very last minute to cancel the race,” said Collier. In previous years, they would have close to 400 to 500 riders signed up two weeks prior to race registration closing and race with a field of 700 to 800 riders.
Race organizers don’t know what the future holds for the race. “We simply don’t know at this point. It is a board decision, which they will take up in the very near future,” said Collier. “The immediate goal over the next few days is to reach out to all our sponsors and supporters.”
All sponsor money and rider registration will be returned.
“While this is a very difficult decision, we want to thank all the communities, particularly Fitchburg, Leominster, Worcester, Princeton and Westminster along with past and current volunteers and sponsors for their outstanding support,” concluded Collier.