#BehindEveryRace showcases the dedicated volunteers and officials supporting cycle events in Wales. After many years serving as a police officer, Stewart Poulton is now the regional cordinator of NEG Wales and enjoys being part of the extended police family supporting cycle races in Wales.
Having served as a police officer before joining the NEG, it was strange being asked to attend the same CSAS course. After all, I’d lost count of the number of hours I had spent over my service either on point or directing traffic at accidents. But I was actually glad I did. In the first instance it gave me a clear insight to the expectations and demands of the police service, that I had grown up in, who were accrediting the marshals. The marshals were shown how to perform the role of a CSAS marshal, with guidance offered on practical safety, conflict management and dealing with the scene of an incident.
Secondly it gave me an insight to how different being a member of the extended police family is compared to having come from the police service itself. I have been really impressed with how the marshals, from their different backgrounds and varying skillsets, were able to deal with the situations and exercises thrown at them with the same level of commitment and enthusiasm of a probationary constable. I knew that out on the racing circuits these guys and girls were going to have my back covered.
It was vital we did the course with both the motorbike CSAS marshals and the static CSAS officers present, as it formed a common bond between us that is evident on the circuits as the race progresses.
The Welsh Cycling Road Race Championships was a brilliant example of that broad team approach. Sure, the motorbikers get to do the Gucci bit, with a wide range of motorcycles being deployed, all wearing the same yellow trousers, CSAS Jacket and white helmet the standard uniform in Wales, and get to buzz around the peloton.
Out on the open road we’re constantly looking out for those sneaky cars that want to leap out of side junctions to get away from the cyclists before they get caught in the tail of the event. It is when we roll through junctions controlled by static CSAS marshals you really get to see how the wider team works well together. Whilst the static CSAS marshal may be the person initially stepping into the road to put the traffic on stop invariably they will be supported by the lead biker, who will use the size of the machine and any additional optional warning equipment fitted, lights and stripes, to provide a physical presence to the control measure being deployed. This will provide a moment for the NEG Wales officer to pass on information to the static CSAS marshal like time gaps between breaks and the bunch, before they are replaced by the next rider in the line. This process is repeated until the Team Leader is through the control point and the peloton follows swiftly on behind.
To the bystander it appears slick and polished, as it does for them watching the cyclists that then race on past. Just like the cylists, the NEG Wales riders aspire to perform well enough that they would be selected for national teams like the escort team that covers the London Surrey Classic, the Tour of Britain or the Women's Tour.
NEG Wales officers have watched on and escorted the likes of Mark Cavendish as they rise up through the ranks from the junior series here in Wales to become the idolised Tour de France heroes of today. It helps foster a sincere sense of satisfaction, that we’re doing our part to make the events that create our future champions that much safer for them to be able to compete and succeed in. We’re not the ones on the podium at the end of the race, we cheat and used an engine, but at the end of the day the whole NEG Wales and CSAS marshal team got them there safely!
Welsh Cycling appreciates the support given by volunteers and officials and cycle events week in week out. If you want to find out more about becoming an NEG Wales officer, click here for more information. #BehindEveryRace