After the end of World War II, many towns and cities across Europe formed alliances between each other as part of a twinning operation that had the noble goal of creating friendship, co-operation and mutual awareness between the people and the sharing of cultural and sporting opportunities.
Oxford was part of this scheme, partnering with the Dutch town of Leiden which is situated midway between Amsterdam and Rotterdam and the links between Oxford and Leiden continue to this day.
In 1951 the Dutch cycling club Swift-Combinatie presented a trophy to the city of Oxford to foster links between Leiden and the cycling clubs of Oxfordshire. The trophy is called the Leyden Plaque (note the difference in spelling) and is competed for each year by local clubs whose members race a 25 mile individual time trial with the winner being the club with the fastest three riders whose times are combined and calculated using a handicap system to ensure a level playing field.
Initially three clubs took part, and more recently the competition has been widened to include newer Oxfordshire clubs including Bicester Millenium CC, Didcot Phoenix CC and Mickey Cranks CC
For 2020 we are proud that it’s Banbury’s turn to host the event and it takes place this Bank Holiday Monday. Sadly COVID restrictions have meant we have reduced the size of the race compared to normal years and the Dutch team who were coming over have had to put their trip on hold until 2021 but we’re going ahead to honour the spirit of the twinning scheme with the correct safety protocols in place.
The 25 mile route takes riders up and down the B4100 Warwick Road between Banbury and Gaydon with the joys of Warmington Hill to be negotiated (up and down!) so if you are driving along this road between 10am and midday please support the riders by being patient if you are trying to overtake and giving them a big gap when doing so.
The ten riders from Banbury Star CC will be doing their best to retain the trophy for another year!