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Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 17

Episode Description

In episode 17 of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, co-hosts Timothy John and Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, look ahead to the 2022 season, paying particular attention to the Tour Series, the Lincoln Grand Prix and the Women's Tour. 

In 2022, Brother UK will again be at the side of elite British road racing, maintaining its vital financial support in the form of sponsorships for the Brother UK-Orientation Marketing and Brother UK-LDN teams, the televised Women's Tour and Tour of Britain races, hill climb specialists Adam Kenway and Rebecca Richardson, and the Neutral Service p/b Brother UK in-

race support crews.

Phil and Tim dissect a thrilling return to Guisborough for Britain's best-loved crit series with a pair of enthralling races. Phil shares his insights on how the winning teams used the formation lap to their advantage, while Tim celebrates the latest generation of female crit riders and an electrifying, if short-lived, Tour Series debut for Grace Lister of Brother UK-Orientation Marketing. 

The 65th edition of the Lincoln Grand Prix, arguably the only 'monument' on the domestic calendar, offers another rich subject. The presence of both Brother UK-sponsored teams and the Neutral Service p/b Brother UK in-race support crews make it a relevant topic for discussion on the Brother UK Cycling Podcast. Wider issues, however, like its fight for funding and its position at the very pinnacle of the domestic calendar, provide additional avenues for debate. 

Phil lifts the lid on Brother UK's ambitious goals for sponsorship of the Green Zones at this year's Women's Tour and Tour of Britain. Next month, the Women's Tour peloton will pass the gates of Brother Industries on stage four from Wrexham to Welshpool. Our refurbishing and remanufacturing centre in Ruabon is a zero-carbon and zero-waste-to-landfill facility. Can Brother UK make the Women's Tour and Tour of Britain's Green Zones zero-waste-to-landfill facilities too? 

Structural issues also feature in Tim and Phil's discussion. The pair set the encouraging emergence of high-quality National B races like the Peaks2Day and Capernwray Road Race alongside more challenging developments, notably the Women's CiCLE Classic's resort to crowdfunding to ensure this year's edition goes ahead. Phil celebrates the contributions of individuals determined to see the race survive, but warns that the sport must now rebuild if its most cherished races are to achieve long-term sustainability. 

Enjoy this lively and informed discussion between Brother UK's leader and an experienced cycling journalist.

The Brother UK Cycling Podcast

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Episode 17: 2022 Season Preview

Episode contents

  • 00.02 – Introduction
  • 00.37 – Hello And Welcome
  • 02.00 – Part One: The Tour Series
  • 09.12 – Part Two: The Lincoln Grand Prix
  • 14.33 – Part Three: Funding Issues
  • 17.19 – Part Four: National B Races
  • 24.57 – Part Five: The Women's Tour 
  • 28.52 – Part Six: Green Zones
  • 30.45 – Part Seven: The Tour Series In Manchester
  • 33.17 – Part Eight: Outro

Transcript

Introduction

Timothy John

“If your passion lies in elite British road racing and you want an inside line on the teams, riders, organisers and sponsors that make this sport such a compelling spectacle, you’re in the right place.

“I’m Timothy John and joining me for every episode is my co-host, the Managing Director of Brother UK, Phil Jones.”

Phil Jones 

“Thanks, Tim. It’s great to be here. We’re going to use this platform to talk about all the key issues surrounding the sport. With special guests, deep dives into hot topics and plenty of chat, we’ll keep you informed about all things UK racing. Stay tuned!”

Hello and welcome

Timothy John

“Hello and welcome to a new series of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, and what better way to start than by previewing the new season? 

“Despite the rigours of Covid and a challenging economic climate, elite British road racing in 2022 is in a fairly healthy place. The Tour Series has begun, and on Sunday we'll see the

65th edition of the Lincoln Grand Prix. 

“All of the time-honoured Spring races went off, and The Tour Series has begun. We’ll have eight rounds of the National Road Series, five rounds of the National Circuit Series for men and three for women, the Women’s Tour, the Tour of Britain and the National Road and Time-Trial Championships. 

“Brother UK will remain at the sport’s side in 2022 in the form of our sponsored teams, Brother UK-Orientation Marketing and Brother UK-LDN, our sponsored races, the Women’s Tour and the Tour of Britain, our sponsored athletes, hill climbers Adam Kenway and Rebecca Richardson, and, of course, the Neutral Service p/b Brother UK in-race support crews. 

“Joining me today to talk about everything that’s going to happen in 2022, in terms of elite British road racing is my co-host, the Managing Director of Brother UK, Phil Jones. 

Phil Jones

“Hi Tim. It’s so good to be back and also to go and see some crit racing and some road racing.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part One: The Tour Series

Timothy John

“Well, let’s dive straight in. We’re recording on Tuesday May 3, a day after the opening round of The Tour Series in Guisborough.

“Both of our sponsored teams - Brother UK-Orientation Marketing and Brother UK-LDN - were in action in a scintillating women’s race.  

“Victory went to Sophie Lewis of CAMS-Basso, who held off a two-pronged assault from Pro Noctis in the form of runner-up Jo Tindley, the reigning British Circuit Race Champion, and

her team-mate, Lucy Ellmore, who’d won the Oakenclough road race two days prior. 

“The men’s race was a similarly enthralling affair that delivered a dominant display from WiV-SunGod, who registered a one-two finish with Thomas Mein and Matt Bostock, and, interestingly, the pair led the race from flag to flag, and we’ll touch on that a bit later in this episode: just what is the tactic for Guisborough?”

INTERLUDE

“Phil, let’s start by talking about the women’s race. That was some race, wasn’t it?”

Phil Jones

“Oh, yes. There was some fantastic riding on display there. Clearly, Jo Tindley, from the gun was showing her strength as the national crit champion. She just went straight out from the blocks, clearly intent on showing her speed, her skill, and I just thought: ‘Yep, the race looks like it’s Jo’s.’

“But, obviously Sophie Lewis had other plans,  and she was able to ride with Jo, and I thought it would come down to the two of them. But two impressive rides for me on the night, other than Jo and Sophie: I thought Lucy Ellmore did a brilliant job to bridge across. I didn’t think she’d make that gap, but she did: Lucy Ellmore from Pro Noctis, Jo’s team-mate. She went over to that leading bunch and the three of them went to the line, where, ultimately, Sophie won in the sprint, straight down Guisborough High Street. 

“But a special mention for Sammie Stuart. You may not see from the TV highlights, but I had a message from Sammie this morning on Instagram, just letting me know that she actually had a chain off on the first corner. She basically dropped about 30 seconds, which was almost the gap between where the first three went over the line and where Sammie ended up. I

think the clue there is that Sammie definitely is a contender for future rounds of The Tour Series, but, yeah, a great race. I really, really enjoyed it.  

Timothy John

“Well, I didn’t know Sammie had dropped her chain. That makes her ride all the more impressive. I mean, imagine: chasing back on to the peloton, passing the peloton, and then remorselessly closing the gap to the three leaders. Another five laps, and might have won it! To finish fourth and to set the fastest lap of the race, well, that is some performance. 

“Just on Pro Noctis, Phil, how do you think the team will process that result? It reminded me a little of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2015, when Ian Stannard, riding for Sky, outwitted a

heavyweight trio from QuickStep. 

“I mean, hats off to Sophie Lewis from CAMS-Basso, but Pro Noctis must have thought they had the race victory in the bag, mustn’t they? Will they be happy to have won the team competition, or will they look back on Guisborough as an opportunity missed?"

Phil Jones

“I think, probably, if you’re running a team, and you have two riders in a bunch of three, you’re expecting to take the win. All credit to Sophie in the sprint. It was very, very close run. 

"So, yes, I’m sure the team might be thinking that the race was there for the taking, but we’ve got a number of rounds: seven rounds in which to figure out the entire team championship.

It’s always good to remember that The Tour Series is really a team event, and, on the night, what I will say is that it was a very clever ride from Pro Noctis. 

“Just to give the sponsors their full credit, because remember it is Pro Noctis-Rotor-Red Chilli Bikes p/b Heidi Kjeldsen. Credit to all the sponsors. I hope we got that right, because there is nothing more irritating than when the sponsor is in the title and doesn’t get a mention. 

“In reality, they picked up good points there. That means that they take the overall women’s leader’s jersey, and Jo Tindley remains in the sprints leader’s jersey. I think that’s a really good foundation for them to set themselves up for the whole Tour Series.”

Timothy John

"I mean, I don’t know if I’m getting too carried away here, but I wonder if Jo Tindley’s ride to the National Circuit Race title last year has set a new standard?  She just rode away from the entire field in Lincoln last year, and In Guisborough, clearly had the same idea. 

"Now, she found Sophie Lewis more than equal to the challenge, and her young team-mate Lucy Ellmore looked very comfortable in crossing the gap from the peloton and then playing

a near-perfect team role. 

"All three of that leading trio were railing the corners on very technical course. It really was a cornering masterclass. And then Sammie, churning that huge gear, and dieseling her way back into contention by riding a crit race like a time-trial. 

"I mean, we’ve had some great national circuit race champions in recent years, in the shape of Becks Durrell, Anna Henderson, Katie Archibald, but has the bar been raised even higher?”

Phil Jones

“Without doubt. Obviously, Jo is coached by Dean Downing, so she’s absolutely at the top her game, and she’s riding in the national crit champion’s jersey. That in itself gives you another 10 watts: that sense of achievement. I’m sure other riders will be looking on the line when they see that jersey. 

“You do not want that jersey riding away from you on the night because you know that the individual wearing it has the power, the capability, the skills, the competency, the training, the

determination and the will to do that jersey justice, and I think Jo definitely did that by showing her intent to boss the field.

“I think we’re probably going to see different winners for each round. The beauty of The Tour Series is that each circuit is so different, which different characteristics. I went to Guisborough last year, Tim, and walked the circuit. I think I’ve figured out the code to win that race, which is, effectively, you go on the formation lap. 

“There’s a dead, 90-degree turn. As you pass the pits and go down, there’s a straight bit and a dead turn. If you get all of your riders on the front of the bunch, kind of block the road into

that turn, you can have two ride off the front dead quick and literally create a gap. 

“I think Jo saw that, and I think the WiV-Sungod team saw that as well. When you look at what happened on the night, both winners emerged, really, from lap one, and so, for me, the formation lap is critical for winning Guisborough, but in other rounds it’s not. If you go to other rounds, the racing is far more open, fare more fluid.

“The beauty of this competition is that it requires three members of the team to get over that line to be scoring points to end up as the overall winner of The Tour Series at the end of it, which is the really big prize. That’s the one that all the teams are really aiming for.”

Part Two: The Lincoln Grand Prix

Timothy John 

 “It’s exciting now, Phil, just talking about these races, 24 hours after the event. A brilliant start to the season proper. Yes, we’ve had the Spring races and, of course, they’re vitally important: the Soens, the Wally Gimber, the Jock Wadley, Coalville, you name it. 

“They’re important and time-honoured races, but May feels like: ‘Ok. Now we’ve shifted up a gear.’ I was talking to Mark Botteley the other day, the manger of Brother UK - Orientation Marketing, and he calls it ‘manic May’. 

“And even by May’s standards, domestic races don’t get any bigger than the Lincoln Grand Prix. It’s arguably the only Monument of the British calendar. There are others who might challenge that. 

“The Beaumont Trophy began four years earlier in 1952, and has been held 68 times. The CICLE Classic more than justifies its nickname as Britain’s Paris-Roubaix, but can’t match

Lincoln’s history.

“Lincoln really is a unique event, isn’t it? It commands its own place on the calendar. There’s nothing quite like the Lincoln Grand Prix.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, you ask a lot of the riders, even riders who have gone up to WorldTour level from national, they all, generally, have the Lincoln Grand Prix on their palmares as a former winner. I think it’s a race that is held in very, very high regard, certainly in the domestic scene. If you’ve won Lincoln, you are a very, very capable rider indeed. 

“It has everything, doesn’t it? It’s a long circuit. I’ve been on the circuit in a neutral service car a couple of years ago. Once you start going up that Michaelgate climb. You go up it the

first time, and your legs hurt, but once you’re going up it, time after time, after time, it’s so attritional, so how that race develops in the second half is amazing. 

“I did take my bike to Lincoln and thought: ‘I’ll see how many times I can go up Michaelgate and just see how the legs fare.’ I think I went up it eight times. After the eighth time, I just thought: ‘Man!’ I was grinding up it in my 34- 32 gear, what all the old gits have to ride. But to race up that climb, the Michaelgate, is so technically difficult. 

“The crowds are there, the cobbles are just horrible to climb on and to get traction, so things like tyre pressures and bike set-up are really, really important. Particular in the latter stages of the race, it really does favour the person who can position well, and save their energy until the end, so they can put it out. The last couple of climbs of Michaelgate tend to determine that race.”

Timothy John

“Yeah, we saw that writ large at last year’s national championships, didn’t we? And you might argue that the Lincoln Grand Prix saved last year’s national championships, which were delayed by Covid until the end of the season. You’d have to ask yourself, who would have cared about the nationals, if it wasn’t on the course of the Lincoln Grand Prix? 

“Of course, come nationals weekend, we got two absolutely brilliant races. Pfeiffer Georgi emerged from the rain a clear and deserving winner from an elite group of Women’s WorldTour riders, and Ben Swift defended his national title from 2019 in an attritional race 

“Interesting to hear you mention the Neutral Service p/b Brother UK in-race support crews, and of course, they will be present and correct in Lincoln on Sunday for the men’s race and

the women’s race, too. 

“I mean, it’s going to be fantastic. The Lincoln Grand Prix has everything: history, a gruelling circuit, a signature climb, a city centre finish, thousands of spectators, and winners list like no other British race, including a host of riders who enjoyed top-flight professional careers. 

“It’s interesting, though, isn’t it Phil, the even the Lincoln Grand Prix isn’t exempt from the financial instability that we’ve seen threaten elite British domestic road racing. 

“Rapha stepped in a couple of years ago, and then, of course, Covid happened, but Rapha is still on board, and Pro Noctis has stepped up to become co-title sponsors, and I think you

know that story from the inside, Phil? You know Phil Kelly well.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, I want to give massive kudos to Phil, because Phil has not only backed a women’s team, as we’ve mentioned earlier in the pod today, but Phil has also stepped up and has put some money behind the title sponsorship of the Lincoln GP. 

“Certainly at a time when the sport is still really struggling to find new sponsorship money, to have someone come in and put money in, not only to a team, but also to a race, I think is a really, really good thing. 
 
“So a big call out to Phil Kelly. I think that’s a great job that he’s doing there, and also a big shout out to the works he’s doing with Ed Clancy in their new, joint venture, Pursuit Line. You can find out more on the web if you want to, but, yeah, big kudos o Phil for backing the Lincoln Grand Prix in 2022.”

 

Part Three: Funding Issues

Timothy John 

“It seems extraordinary, doesn’t it, that a race with the history and prestige of the Lincoln Grand Prix might have financial problems. 

“Another cherished race, the Women’s CiCLE Classic, has come very close to ending. It’s main funder, a private individual, Pete Stanton, who’s shown extraordinary generosity in funding the race thus far, has withdrawn his contribution in a dispute with British Cycling, rather than with the organisers of the CiCLE Classic. 

“But it meant that Colin Clews, the race founder and director, had to turn to crowd funding, and, thank goodness, crowd finding has saved the Women’s CiCLE Classic, but it does show Phil, doesn’t it, that the systemic problems of funding elite British road racing are still very much with us.”

Phil Jones

“Regrettably, yes. More importantly, let me firstly say ‘well done’ to every single person who put some money into that crowdfunding campaign. I chucked a bit of money myself because I just want to see it happen, really. 

“Clearly, Colin, with his back up against the wall, needed to raise some money very, very quickly, and crowdfunding was the answer, and he achieved the funding goal, more importantly,

which is think is absolutely brilliant. 

“Now, I’m not saying crowdfunding is the answer for every race organiser in the country. It might be. Who knows? But in the immediate and urgent situation that Colin found himself in, then definitely that was the right answer, and at least we’ve got the edition of the race on, which is brilliant.  

“Putting my business hat on for a moment; we’ve talked about this in the past that, post-Covid, companies are in a very different place in terms of what their outlooks might be, how long those outlooks might be. Companies are having to cut costs wherever they can. 

“There’s a massive inflationary environment for costs in business, and when that happens, demand comes down because of the cost of living crisis. There are so many interdependent

parts that the marketing budget is often the first place where the cuts begin to happen. 

“That means that the overall environment for sponsorship becomes even tougher. It’s something that the sport needs to try and solve. It really does. It’s stuck in a cycle where teams are living on a shoestring budget, just about delivering their race programmes and not having the time or resources to develop new relationships and new partnerships. 

“And these things often don’t happen overnight. Partnerships are developed over long periods. Relationships need to be built, rapport and trust established, business models proven

etc. 

“More focus needs to go on that, particularly as we move into 2023 and begin to emerge out of Covid. New money needs to come in from somewhere, somehow.”

 
 

Part Four: National B Races

Timothy John 

“Yep, 100 per cent. Cycling has that endemic challenge. Realistically, you can’t charge spectators at the roadside and so sponsorships takes a on a significance that it doesn’t hold in stadium sports. 

“But, fingers crossed for all of our cherished races. I mentioned at the top that all of our traditional Spring races went ahead this year, including the Eddie Soens Memorial, whose own

future was under threat a couple of years ago, but is now on an even keel. 

“One trend we discussed off-air was the recent emerge of new and high-quality National B races. The National Road Series calendar seems set in stone - the Beaumont Trophy, Lincoln, Ryedale - although, unfortunately, no Tour of the Reservoir this year. 

"But the National B scene is breeding high-quality events. Back in March, the Yomp Bonk Crew staged the inaugural edition of The Peaks 2Day race for men and women. Cold Dark North which is another, comparatively new, independent organisation: their Capernwray Road Race seems to go from strength-to-strength. 

“That’s got to give us some hope, hasn’t it, Phil? National B offers high-quality races at an affordable cost to the organiser.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, absolutely. I went along to the Eddie Soens this year, over at. Aintree. It’s actually quite close to where I live. Shout out there to Brian Rigby, who was the guy who really stepped in. Brian used to work within our neutral service cars, actually, but he owns a haulage company and stepped in and kept the Eddie Soens going when it was in some financial dire straits. 

“Brian was there again with his whole crew. Loads of people from his company and volunteers to get the Eddie Soens on. A massive field. Obviously, it’s a handicap race and everyone

goes off together. You’ve got all sorts of category riders: male, female. It’s a very unique race. It was great to see it still on and so well supported. 

“I thought what was really interesting is that a lot of the elite and UCI teams that we have in the UK are turning out more to National B races, fundamentally to get race form for the National As, because they’ve got big teams nowadays.

"A lot of the squads are a lot bigger than they were pre-pandemic, in my opinion, in terms of numbers of riders on the team. They’ve got a little more capacity to put riders out to different races, and no sponsor is going to turn down an image of a rider with their hands in the air, at the end of the day, which can be used on social media.

“I think as part of a marketing strategy, it’s not a bad thing either to have a few race wins in your bag that you can shout about and peddle around to future sponsors.”

Timothy John 

“Absolutely. Mark Botteley, the manager of Brother UK - Orientation Marketing’s women’s squads, and the organiser of The Tim James Memorial race for men and Witham Hall race for junior and U23 women, told me that a National B race attracts the same field. 

“He says that there aren’t the same requirements around road closures. You don’t need a start-finish gantry. All of those ‘nice to haves’ that make a National A race are just not part of the requirement for a National B and so you can get a very high quality field at a much lower cost.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, I get that, I really do. The costs of putting on National As is one of the challenges that the sport has. We get stuck in this cycle, don’t we, of having to raise funds to cover all of the road closures and all of the various things that have to be done in order to put on that race. 

“I think what we’re all acknowledging at the moment is that the sport is at a point where it’s not quite hit rock bottom but, fundamentally, it needs to be rebuilt. What I mean by that is lots of different things: more National A races, could we get another UCI race on the calendar in the UK, can people earn a living out of being a professional cyclist in the UK, could the sport sustain careers for people in the UK? 

“That’s what I mean when I say about the rebuilding: can we get back to the good old days when the domestic race scene was healthy, when people could earn a good living from it,

where it was almost a mini-industry, producing amazing economic outputs, as well as racing results.

“We’re a far cry from that at the moment. It would be great to start building back towards that, but you’ve got to build from somewhere, haven’t you? It’s not going to happen overnight. At least if there’s a thriving B racing scene, where people can get used to road racing, riding in bunches, race strategy, all of these sorts of things, then that’s got to be a good thing.”

Timothy John

“One thing that we can be absolutely sure of is that the talent pipeline hasn’t run dry. 

“To loop back to The Tour Series, Grace Lister from Brother UK - Orientation Marketing, and a rider on the Junior Olympic Academy, crossed the gap to the two leaders at that stage - Sophie Lewis and Jo Tindley - with what looked like comparative ease. 

“Now she crashed soon afterwards after clipping a barrier - sheer inexperience, as I’m sure she’d be the first to admit - but my goodness, what a talent. 

“It reminded me, Phil, of watching Anna Henderson a couple of years ago in the same jersey, terrorising the more experienced riders.  A few days before, we saw Anna win the prologue

at the Festival Elsy Jacobs in the national time-trial champion’s jersey.

“We know that talent still exists and wouldn’t it be great, if the economics come right, to see young British cycling talent earning a living from their sport in this country.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, and that’s the key point actually, Tim. Really impressive ride by Grace, actually, I was gutted to see her crash out of the Guisborough round. I thought she could have got away with the group. It would have been a great experience for her and for the team too.  

“It sort of underpins a little bit what we’ve been trying to do with our overall sponsorship strategy over the last few years. By putting money into teams at that level, that allow people to jump up a level, if you like. OnForm is a feeder team for CAMS-Basso, and with Brother UK-LDN, Manager Ian Watson is taking individuals who have never ridden a bike before to riding around Regent’s Park, getting them involved in bunch racing, then getting them into local races, all the way through to: ‘Hey, you could appear in The Tour Series.’

“That, for me, is the most important point, fundamentally. When we look at some of these riders who made it onto WorldTour teams: Anna Henderson is a really good example. It all starts by building experiences. You need to jump on these stepping stones to make that next big move. 

“The domestic scene is still vitally important to develop things like that, and also for teams to build those experiences so these thing lights can continue to emerge, outside of BC track programmes or Olympic development programmes. If you’re not on one of those, how do you somehow show that you are a future talent? Well, certainly before the TV cameras of The Tour Series over the coming seven stages is a pretty good place, in my opinion, for you to show your capability to a larger audience.”
 
 
 
 
 

 

Part Five: The Women's Tour

Timothy John 

“Let’s look ahead now a little bit further into June, The Women’s Tour will soon be upon us, and looks set to be a brilliant edition. Fourteen teams from the Women’s WorldTour will compete, and tow British squads will be among the four UCI Continental teams invited, that’s Le Col-Wahoo and CAMS-Basso, both previously sponsored by Brother UK. 

“The races starts his year on Monday June 6 in Colchester and ends in six days later in Oxford on Saturday June 11. Other start and finish towns include Bury St Edmunds, Tewkesbury,

Gloucester and Chipping Norton. 

“It’s stages four and five in Wales, though, that really catch the eye. Stage four from Wrexham to Welshpool rolls right past our Brother Industries facility in Ruabon, and is a brutally hard stage. The following day, the stage finishes on Black Mountain. I don’t think we need say anymore!

“I spoke to Andy Hawes, the Route Director, and his advice to the team is to bring your rouleurs and climbers and leave your sprinters at home. He told me, Phil, the stage four, which passes our facility in Ruabon, will be the hardest in the history of The Women’s Tour.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, funnily enough, Andy sent me a picture of the team car outside of our factory, which was very nice. I was there about a week ago, wandering around that facility, which refurbishes and remanufactures the cartridges that go into our laser printers. 

“I spoke with the managing director there, a colleague, and just sort of said: ‘Right, we’ve got to get this factory shut down when the race goes through. We need everyone out on the road, cheering away in all the Brother livery, as the riders go through.’ And he was like: ‘Yeah, that sounds great.’

“But Andy did say that it is going to be a very, very tough stage. Do you know what? I think the riders will like that. I genuinely do. I think that they will react well to that. The Women’s

Tour has a phenomenal reputation among the WorldTour teams. They all love coming to the UK to race, because they get big crowds. 

“I want to give absolute credit to Hugh and Mick and all the guys behind the scenes, because they put on a world class race. I don’t just mean the route, which Andy designs. Mick and the team put in every effort to ensure that everything behind the scenes is right up there: the hotels that they use, the facilities that the riders have access to. 

“They make sure that they have enough car parking space and access to electricity and washing facilities. These are all things that we don’t think about but the race organisers do. I know that Mick and his team work ever so hard to really make it an amazing experience for the riders and the teams how visit. 

“I think that just ripples through because when you go and talk to the riders, they all enjoy coming to this edition of the race, but if it gets hard, I think that some riders will say: ‘Bring it

on. That’s what we want. We want hard racing, and let the winner emerge.’ I think it’s going to be a cracking edition. I really do.” 

Timothy John

“A hundred per cent, yeah. I was lucky enough to spend some time with a pro team a couple of years ago when I was working with a brand. All of the interesting stuff happens, of course, when the tape recorder is turned off, and you’re just hanging around in the car park. 

“And I remember - I won’t name them, because they’re now two of the biggest riders in the sport - asking them if they enjoyed coming to the UK, and they said: ‘Oh, yeah. The Women’s Tour is the best stage race on the calendar by miles,’ and, ‘Why can’t every race be as well organised as The Women’s Tour?’

“You know, all this praise, completely unprompted, just chit-chatting in the car park. And I thought, well, that’s worth knowing. That is a testimony to all the hard work that goes into staging that race." 

Part Six: Green Zones

Timothy John 

“And fair play to you, Phil, for backing that race from the start. Brother UK has sponsored The Women’s Tour since its inception in 2014. We’ve been the Official Print and Results Partner since 2016, but this year, we’ve expanded our commitment, I think, Phil? We’re exploring a different pathway.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, we’ve added an additional asset to the portfolio this year. The company, Brother, globally, we’ve got a big focus on ESG: Environmental and Social Governance. I was chatting to the guys over at SweetSpot about how we could bring that to life. 

“We decided to sponsor the litter zones, during The Women’s Tour and The Tour of Britain, the idea being that we want to see what can be done with regards to all of the discarded

rubbish, wrappers and all that kind of stuff. We’re going to have all that collected and see how much of that can genuinely be recycled or repurposed. 

“We’re going to make that our challenge in these two big editions to say: ‘What is possible?’ All of these wrappers end up in bags. What do we know about where they go after that? Well, we’re going to find out. We’re going to go away. We’re going to collect it all.

"We’re going to take it to a specialised facility, and either we’re going to see what can be recycled, as a percentage. How much can be recycled properly? How much of it can be repurposed? And we may even take away a few wrappers and see if they can be made into bits of art by local schools or something like that. 

“Could we get to a situation where there is zero waste? Could we get to a zero waste Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain, because the factory which the peloton is going to roll past [Brother Industries] is zero waste to landfill and it’s also a zero carbon facility.

"I don’t think we can solve the zero carbon part of the bike race, but we may be able to assist with zero waste from the racing litter that’s produced. We’re going to have a go at that for the first time and see where we go.”

Timothy John

“Wow! That’s fantastic! Very ambitious, of course, but who better to take that on than a business with two Queens Awards for Enterprise and Sustainable Development on its palmares?"

 

Part Seven: The Tour Series in Manchester

Timothy John

“Well, we started this episode by talking about The Tour Series, so it makes sense to end on the same note. This year’s grand finale - and I think this came as a surprise even to you, Phil - is going to be held in Brother UK’s home town. It’s going to be in Manchester.”

Phil Jones

“Yes. I think it was a late addition to The Tour Series, and that’s absolutely brilliant news. I think it’s on May 24. I’ve made sure that I’m working from the office that day in order to get into Manchester and see that final round.

“Unfortunately, this year, and it’s just the way that my schedule is working, but I can’t get to any of the rounds, other than Manchester, which I think is a real shame, because last year I managed to get to four rounds or something, I think; I managed to do the tour to some degree, following the race around. It’s just one of those things that the schedule didn’t work this year. 

“I’m really looking forward to getting to Manchester, getting into the pits, seeing a couple of our sponsored teams and meeting the riders. It’s always nice to do that. I’m sure that Manchester will do it justice. If you remember, when we had the Tour of Britain finishing in Manchester on Deansgate, massive crowds came out for that. If we can really drum some big

numbers up, it would be good to see that particular round of The Tour Series go out on a massive high.” 

Timothy John

“Yeah, I remember standing with you on Deansgate and watching Mathieu van der Poel sprint to victory in front of thousands of people, We even had sunshine, so let’s hope we get a bit more of that. 

“I think someone at Brother has shared your diary with SweetSpot and told them, ‘Phil can’t get along to too many rounds this year,’ and they’ve come back and said, ‘We’ll hold the

grand finale in Manchester, then'.”

Phil Jones

“If only, Tim! If only. I’m just genuinely pleased. I’ve always maintained that, for me, Manchester should be in The Tour Series every single year. I genuinely do. For a city the size of Manchester, the home of British Cycling, the reality is that it should be hosting a round every single year, without question. I’m ever so pleased that we’re going to see it again back in

2022. I think it will be a brilliant around, and hopefully with really fast racing.

“I haven’t seen the route yet. I’m looking forward to seeing that the course will be for that because I know a lot of the streets of Manchester like the back of my hand, so once I’ve seen that, hopefully we can have another quick chat on a future pod, Tim, to see how that race might unfold.”

 

Outro

Timothy John 

 “Absolutely. Well, Phil, thanks very much for your time today. As ever, it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface, but it’s going to be a tremendous season, no question about that. 

“Be sure to follow us on social media. We’re @brothercycling on all three channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks very much to everybody out there listening, and with Covid sadly still with us, do, please, stay safe.”
 

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