Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic race organiser Colin Clews has issued a press release stating that television coverage of the British one-day race (April 17) has been thrown in jeopardy due to an on-going dispute with British Cycling over branding rights.

Clews has called British Cycling’s demands for branding – banners at the roadside, start/finish area and on race material – as the ‘final straw for race organisers and sponsors’.

This year’s race is sponsored by Tesco and supported by CNP Sports Nutrition, which goes some way to settling the £40,000 cost of putting on the event. Naturally, commercial sponsors expect to have their name all over the event that they support, which has lead to a fight for branding space.

Tesco stepped in to replace the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) in January this year, effectively rescuing the race from cancellation after government spending cuts slashed the EMDA budget.

British Cycling holds the key to broadcast options for British races shown on Eurosport.

The CiCLE Classic is run partially on unmade farm tracks, and quickly established itself as a British equivalent of northern European one-day classics and attracts a large number of spectators each year.

Clews’ press release is reproduced in full below:

The absence of Eurosport TV coverage of Britain’s only UCI listed one day race, the TESCO Rutland – Melton CiCLE Classic, is the likely outcome following ‘unrealistic’ demands made by British Cycling for their branding upon this years event which will take place on Sunday 17th April.

Following a total absence of interest in the race by British Cycling over the past six years, which included a summary expulsion of the event from the Premier Calendar series, and most recently a highly publicised and still unexplained demand for a reduction in field size, the demand for extensive branding across the event has proved the final straw for event organisers and sponsors.

Over the past six years the event has enjoyed a similar level of support to events within the Premier Calendar series; this being; the provision of the heavily BC branded TV coverage, the BC branded podium truck, and 50 barriers. When the CiCLE Classic was expelled from the Premier Calendar in 2007 the BC Board gave a promise to continue to support the event to the same level as events remaining in the series, although the Classic has never received any direct financial contribution from BC that has been made annually to events in that series.

“Initially I was advised in February that IF the event was to continue to receive the minimal support provided previously, then BC expected to receive 50% branding rights over the whole event. When it was pointed out that this was totally unrealistic in the light of agreements made with existing commercial sponsors, a lesser figure of 30% was then proposed.” said Race Director Colin Clews. “However, I had to make clear that the most that I was able and prepared to offer was 20% and this was limited to start and finish areas and certain other points along the course. Even this lower % has since been stated as unrealistic and unacceptable by the events main sponsors who consider the demand unethical and aimed to mislead the federation’s own membership and the public as to the federations involvement in the event. Those actions now appear set to result in BC having no presence or recognition whatsoever at this years event. When the event costs in excess of £40,000 each year to stage, and the value of the previous BC involvement is around £6,500, then this begins to put into perspective the unrealistic nature of the demands made by BC personnel”, explained Clews.

With the April 17th event looking set to be the biggest edition of the CiCLE Classic yet, including ten foreign teams competing, and the largest pre publicity ever taking place in local TESCO stores across Leicestershire, it is extremely sad that the governing body for the sport in Britain which has done so much in promoting the sport to the public in recent years, is apparently happy to be excluded from the biggest one day race in the country.

Related links

Tesco sponsorship rescues CiCLE Classic

External links
Tesco Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic website
British Cycling website