This year's Galway Gravel Grinder has been cancelled, organisers have confirmed.

The move follows discussion between Cycling Ireland and the country's national forestry service, Coillte, which earlier this year signalled that it would no longer sanction cycling events on land under its management.

One of Ireland's pioneering gravel events, the Galway Gravel Grinder had established a loyal following in recent years as well as raising over €4000 for local charities.

In a statement today, the organisers said:

"Regrettably, we are announcing the 2024 Galway Gravel Grinder is cancelled. Coillte has decided not to support gravel cycling, and unfortunately since most of our event is held on Coillte lands, we have been forced to abandon this year's event.

"We encourage all who care about gravel cycling to reach out to Coillte and/or your local politicians to voice your concerns or displeasure."

Organisers announce the cancellation of this year's Galway Gravel Grinder.
Organisers announce the cancellation of this year's Galway Gravel Grinder.

Today's news was presaged back in January when Coillte's new position regarding cycling events first came to light.

At that time, the organisers were still hopeful that this year's event would be allowed to go ahead.

"Unfortunately, we have learned gravel cycling events utilising Coillte managed properties in the Republic of Ireland will not be supported or licensed moving forward," said the event organisers in January. 

"Effectively, this would mean the end of the Galway Gravel Grinder and other events like it around the country.

"We have worked tirelessly over the last few years with Coillte (and many other public and private partners) to put on a professional, safe and community-focused event, and it should be noted that we have built very strong and positive relationships with our Coillte representatives at the local level. 

"From the very beginning, we set out to run the Galway Gravel Grinder with the heart of the "gravel ethos" at its core—community! We didn't cut corners, and we made sure to build partnerships with the likes of Coillte, SSE, local land owners, business owners, community leaders, and many others. Additionally, we put our money where our mouth is by sharing close to €4,000 with a local charity over the last two years. 

"We understand conversations are ongoing between Cycling Ireland and Coillte to address issues and concerns, and we are very hopeful they will be fruitful."

End of the line for Galway gravel grinders?
End of the line for Galway gravel grinders?

The news leaves Ireland's gravel events calendar - already tiny in comparison to the plethora of events in Scotland, England and Wales - in limbo.

Ireland's biggest gravel cycling event, the Lakelander Gravel Grinder, is located just across the border in Northern Ireland. The organisers have confirmed it will go ahead on 5 October as planned.

This year has also seen the launch of what would potentially be a huge event, the Rebellion Gravel weekender in Cork at the end of August.

The Irish sportive scene meanwhile received a massive boost recently with two new events for 2024, L'Etape Ireland by Tour de France in September and a UCI Gran Fondo World Series event in June.

But while Irish road cyclists look forward to a bumper season ahead, it seems that gravel fans are set to miss out - unless Coillte can be persuaded to rethink.