How much does it really cost to run a women’s cycling team?

Matrix Fitness Racing Academy team manager Stef Wyman says he has never seen women’s racing ‘in a better place’ and believes that women’s cycling is ‘getting there fast’ in terms of becoming as big as the men’s sport.

Meanwhile Nick Hussey, founder and Managing Director of British cycling company Vulpine who sponsor Matrix, says “women’s racing offers immense value on many levels for a potential sponsor” and, because of the enormous return it has created for the company, he is looking to “extend and increase involvement” with the team.

However, in order to fully enable women’s cycling to step up to a level playing field with the male scene, Hussey believes that companies should be shown what sponsors get for their money so that they can see how advantageous an investment in a team can be. “Nobody actually knows how much it costs to sponsor a cycling team,” he said.

So how much does it really cost to run a woman’s team? Here is their breakdown of different price brackets.

– Total budget needed to set up and maintain a high-level professional team.
– Can take on up to two main partners – the names of which actually become the name of the team, which is unique in sport!
– Pays for a roster of 12 riders
– Access to the best women’s race on the calendar, such as the Giro d’Italia, Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallone
– Excellent media coverage for sponsors: team cars and clothing covered with their logos and colours
– Perks for company employees: signed team jerseys, rides in the team car during races, maybe even a photo shoot with the team in your office.

– On its own enough to create a world leading, though non-professional team. (The team manager can pay a minimum salary to riders so that they can concentrate on training, resting and racing. This would be a first for a non-professional team, but riders could well end up with a better deal than some big name professional teams have offered riders.)
– Pays for a roster of 8 riders
– Team could include mid-level professional races at home and abroad, including the Women’s Tour (‘of Britain’) that is scheduled to launch in 2014
– Lots of advantages for sponsors, but not quite as much as the full £250,000 package.

– Co-title sponsorship of an amateur team
– Team can race the Women’s Tour – an event that is likely to be televised event and receive a lot of media exposure
– VIP opportunities and all the bonuses of the £100,000 sponsorship, but you would have to share the team title with another sponsor.

– As the team would have to be non-professional, the team could split its naming rights more than just two ways.
– Corporate days with the team including rides from your company’s headquarters with the team cyclists.
– Full access to the team launch
– Use of the team at trade shows or events

– Provision of a Rider Ambassador for your company
– Corporate days with the team for employees at special events
– Team jerseys and cars will have your logo printed on them.

– Full Rider Ambassador package
– Targeted team and rider return and placement of your logo on team kit and vehicles.

“These numbers are exceptional value, for their return. Compared to men’s pro racing, these figures are tiny. Women’s racing is attracting far more attention than the pound signs would have us expect,” said Hussey.

  • Luke, I realize your response is now a year old, and I beg the internet forces that be, that you will see my reply. I agree that the sponsorship agreements of most cycling teams sound just about all the same…a shout out on social media, your logo on team jerseys, you get the point. However, I will say this about women’s cycling, and it is something that men’s cycling cannot garner from the media, and that is the voice of social change. In fact, no other sport, at this point in time, has the same amount of marketability, and potential for huge returns for, as I like to call them, than women’s cycling. The world and fans are about dead tired of doping scandals, boring mug shots of Bradley Wiggin’s sideburns, the cocky and asinine pistolero of Contador! It is time for a new life in the world of cycling, a positive message of showing the world what athletes are really made of; without EPO, testosterone, and blood doping. Nothing pushes the image of a company more than the culture it endears itself with; whether internally or externally, say to the sport or causes it supports. It is the fact, that most of this seemingly obvious benefit for companies goes unnoticed and untapped that literally keeps me up at night.

  • Luke Jones

    The idea behind the article is good, but when a team bus can cost as much as the top end figure I have to question the thought behind many of the above statements. Add to that the fantasy scenarios of sponsorship activation put forward and this seems little more than a poor piece of journalism.

    In marketing a company, ROI is measured on far more than stickers and logos. Small additions to packages like team photos and hollow words of endorsement do little to drive up the value of corporate partnerships.

    Where amongst all of the frill in that article was the suggestion of comparing the investment against like for like scenarios. A 30 second ad slot on prime time TV costs more than £250k, but women’s cycling isn’t likely to air on premier channels at those times. Men’s cycling doesn’t get that coverage.

    The reality of the business environment right now is that sponsorships need to deliver more value through B to B channels whilst still offering the B to C benefits of past years. Add to that the congested and over exposed nature of visual marketing as is and you have a situation where the intangibles are the difference in a good marketing strategy. Promotion is just one of the 4 Ps and that alone will never secure long term investment in sport.

  • Ken Evans

    No UK sponsor or team has really made the most of all the race success of the UK female racers. All that media exposure and TV time could be of great value with the right campaign. While Victoria Pendleton has fronted some food products, and gym programmes, these haven’t had a wider impact. With the right combination, a women’s cycling team could unlock markets that male cycling doesn’t reach. There has been a lack of marketing imagination to take advantage of the opportunities offered. It is hoped that this will change in future.

  • barry davies

    great article and opens up your eyes to the costs involved – how about one for the men or the costs of a cyclo X team !!!