The Steam Packet and the government have responded to claims that some cyclists are finding it too expensive to come to the island for the UK National Road Race Championships in June.
The island is due to host the event from Thursday, June 22, to Sunday, June 25.
But the owner of one team told cycling website road.cc that the expense of getting six riders, a sports director and a mechanic to the Isle of Man – ‘upwards of £1,000’ once travel, accommodation and food were factored in – has forced the team to decide to miss the round of last year’s National Series held on the island.
He said: ‘For that price we can go and do a couple of weekends in Belgium or Holland.’
But a Steam Packet spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that fares have not been increased. In fact, the rates offered to competitors and teams through the local organisers have been kept at the same level as those available for the Manx International Cycling Grand Prix held in April 2016.
‘The publicly available special offer fares for this period, compare very favourably with other Irish Sea services for this period. A snapshot taken today (February 6) shows that the lowest fare available for a ‘high’ car (one with bicycles mounted on a roof rack) and three people travelling to the Isle of Man on June 21 and returning on June 25 is £252, compared with the cost of travelling between Holyhead and Dublin on the same dates, for example, with Irish Ferries charging £419 and Stena Line £344.
‘We have offered to bring over officials and equipment as part of a sponsorship agreement. A coach booking for the event has already been discounted by some £700.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company chief executive Mark Woodward said: ‘It is disappointing that inaccurate and misleading statements have been circulated.
‘For absolute clarity, the Steam Packet Company has not raised fares for the period of this event and very competitive fares are available to book now for anyone wishing to travel to watch the racing. We are working hard to support the event through the provision of preferential rates for competitors and assistance with transport for officials and equipment through a sponsorship agreement.
‘It would be a great shame if people were put off visiting due to misleading statements.’
A spokesman for the Department of Economic Development said: ‘The department was made aware of a story over the weekend on a cycling news website in which the owner of one of the smaller cycling teams had expressed reservations about the costs of sending the whole team to participate in the championships.
‘We are not aware of any operators or suppliers increasing prices during the period covered by the championships.’