As a result of increasing complexities associated with Brexit, the renowned London to Paris charity cycle event will be held in its current format for the final time in 2024. The event sees 350 cyclists take on the 520km route between the two capitals. In recent years, it has been officially partnered with the Tour de France.
The three-day closed-road event is organised by UK-based company Hotchillee. It traditionally concludes beneath the iconic Eiffel Tower, a day before the Grand Tour finale, and is accompanied by a Tour de France escort. Over the past two decades, more than 10,000 riders have participated in this event, attracting Tour de France winners and ex-pro cyclists like Magnus Bäckstedt, Sarah Storey, Sean Kelly, and Stephen Roche. Each year the organisers partner with a charity with many thousands raised over the years.
Brexit major stumbling block
Cycle News reports that although the organisers have expressed their desire to continue the event beyond 2024 in a new format, they have faced multiple difficulties in recent years. These include concerns about the event’s carbon footprint and road closures. However, the biggest stumbling block has been what the organisers describe as “the ever-growing complications of Brexit” making it challenging to organise an international cycling event.
One significant obstacle has been the inability to transport participants’ bikes seamlessly across the UK-France border. This is due to customs red tape affecting the movement of goods and people between the UK and the EU following our departure from the European Union.
Border red tape
The total value of the participant bikes in the last year was estimated to be around £1.7 million. However, without proper customs exemption paperwork, each bike would be subjected to full import duties being applied when crossing the border. As a consequence, the organisers have had to individually account for each participant’s bicycle and submit ATA Carnet forms – often referred to as the “Passport for goods” – for the entire shipment of bikes.
This paperwork was not required while the UK was in the EU and therefore part of the Customs Union. It not only adds costs, but also some jeopardy with the possibility of bikes being held at the border if the documentation is not acceptable to customs officials, as happened last year.
The impact of Brexit on the cycling industry has been significant, with examples like the distributor of KTM bicycles in the UK citing it as a main contributing factor in the company ceasing trading.
The 2024 London to Paris event will be a milestone as it marks the 20th anniversary of the ride in its current format and is scheduled to conclude in Paris on 16th June, ahead of the Olympic Games. Entry for next year’s event is now open with a limited number of spaces left.