Local authority collaboration key to reinvigorating domestic racing, British Cycling task force says

Ed Clancy, task force chair, says 16 recommendations are ‘realistic and attainable’

Jack Rootkin-Gray
(Image credit: Ian Wrightson / The British Continental)

The 16 recommendations to improve the domestic racing scene, released by British Cycling’s elite road racing task force on Monday, are “realistic and attainable”, according to Ed Clancy.

The three-time Olympic champion chaired the external group, which was established by the national governing body last summer. It included marketing experts, former team managers, and riders. 

Alongside Clancy, the task force included riders Monica Greenwood and Jo Tindley, Great Britain Cycling Team sports director John Herety, Brother UK managing director Phil Jones, M2 Sports co-owner Steve Fry, race organiser Chris Lawrence and Rapha marketing manager Jess Morgan. 

By consulting with a variety of stakeholders across the sport, the task force's aim was to then generate a list of ideas to boost the dwindling scene. 

In recent times, races have collapsed, some of Britain’s leading UCI Continental teams have suffered financial issues or struggled for sponsorship. It’s hoped that the recommendations outlined can help turn the tide and eventually force the scene to return to a place of prosperity. 

Presenting the task forces’ findings to Cycling Weekly, Clancy was quick to point out that he believes  there is no “no silver bullet” to fix the struggling UK domestic scene. 

Two recommendations include making sure more races on the national road calendar are held outside the north of England and ensuring the delivery of a men’s and women’s Tour of Britain this year.

Clancy told Cycling Weekly that knowledge sharing and creating a lasting impact would be key to ensuring those points are met. 

“They're struggling for money, like everybody else is,” Clancy said, speaking about local councils. “But I think one thing that’s apparent is that this has got to be bigger than a bike race. They need to see communities, more families involved and they're interested in seeing a lasting legacy. 

“We've got to make sure that the national circuit series has a bit of a brand about it, almost like a franchise model, that makes it easier to sell, or make it easier for the local authorities to buy in to. 

“If it's about more than simply a bike race turning up and leaving they would be more interested.”

“There were a lot of pieces to this puzzle,” he added. “But I do think these recommendations are realistic and they're attainable.”

There is also a recommendation that “succession plans” are put in place for when an event organiser, particularly one of a national event, decides to step aside

“I think the facts are that, generally speaking, race organisers are getting older,” he said. “Now they've also got decades and decades of experience that we don't want to leave the building. So one of our recommendations is that they'll come in to share best practice. 

“The good news is that there is young blood that's prepared to take on this task [of organising events]. An example is someone like Seb Ottley [Portsdown Classic organiser]. 

“We just want to make sure that when there is young blood coming in that we can support and we can share the knowledge and experience of the incredibly generous and hard working race organisers that have preceded them.” 

Clancy told CW that “dozens of” race organisers were consulted by the task force in order to share their ideas which ultimately helped to shape the succession plan recommendation. 

He said he believes in the ability of the “passionate people” currently operating in the sport to force change and make an impact using the 16 recommendations for guidance. 

“It's the people that are going to make this happen again and again,” he said. “As a task force, our job was to go away, go on this big discovery journey, consult with as many people as we can and say ‘right, this is what we think is gonna make a difference’. 

“Now, British Cycling will have a finite resource in terms of money and people. So it's kind of up to them, we've passed the baton over now, we've said ‘look, this is what we think and now it's up to you’... I think the good news is that there are passionate people in this sport like the current riders, like the organisers, volunteers, like the marshals, like everyone working in British Cycling hard to make things better.” 

Despite reiterating that change “would not happen overnight”, Clancy said that there was one recommendation in particular that he hoped to see put into practice sooner than the others. 

“Out of all those points I think it would be great to see the Tour of Britain and the Women’s Tour happen this year,” he said. “It's out of my control if that could happen but I think that'd be something to celebrate if it does.” 

BC's CEO, Jon Dutton, welcomed the report and thanked the task force.

“While it is clear from the report that there are no easy answers, we have taken positive steps with our 2024 elite road calendar, and now have a clear long-term roadmap to propel our national level events towards sustainable growth in the future," he said in a statement.

“This has been a new way of working for British Cycling, which demonstrates our commitment to openness and collaboration with our communities, and to finding solutions to our most pressing challenges. We look forward to sharing our progress over the months and years ahead.” 

16 Elite Road Racing Task Force recommendations in full

- Explore the creation of a centralised procurement function.
- Produce a new branding, marketing and communications framework.
- Undertake a full review of the digital strategy.
- Develop event organiser succession plans for all national series events.
- Develop a ‘Winning Pattern’ playbook based on existing successful races.
- Consider a targeted sponsorship agreement for the National Series.
- Review rider entry processes to stimulate early entries.
- Develop best practice guidance for teams.
- Undertake a full review of the National Circuit Series.
- Prioritise National Circuit Series locations by audience size.
- Review the entry criteria for WorldTour riders to enter the National Circuit Series.
- Review the national road calendar and ensure more races are outside of the north of England.
- All efforts should be made to ensure delivery of the Tour of Britain and a UCI Women’s World Tour stage race in 2024.
- Explore opportunities to increase the number of UCI 1.2 and 2.2 races.
- Undertake a full review of race distances and rider qualification criteria.
- Consider a new range of jerseys for the National Road Series and a capped maximum entry cost. 

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