1. Home Brother
  2. Cycling
  3. Brother Cycling Podcast
  4. 2023
  5. Episode 36: “Jon Dutton Interview”

Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 36

Episode Description

Leader meets leader in this special episode of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, where co-host Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, heads across town to interview Jon Dutton, British Cycling’s new Chief Executive, at Manchester’s National Cycling Centre.

The Brother UK Cycling Podcast

Subscribe to the newsletter keeping domestic road cycling fans up to speed

Episode 36: Jon Dutton Interview

Episode contents

  • 00.02 – Introduction
  • 00.38 – Hello And Welcome
  • 02.31 – Part One: Career History
  • 07.30 – Part Two: Purpose and Passion
  • 15.40 – Part Three: Reputational Repair
  • 18.20 – Part Four: The Road Ahead
  • 26.12 – Part Five: Glasgow Calling
  • 28.32 – Part Six: Television Dreams
  • 30.48 – Part Seven: A Helping Hand
  • 33.57 – Part Eight: Start-Stop-Continue
  • 37.10 – Part Nine: Career Progression
  • 42.30 – Part Ten: On Tour
  • 48.30 – Part Eleven: Legacy Planning
  • 50.51 – Part Twelve: Reflections



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 this very special edition of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, which amounts to nothing less than a scoop, courtesy of my co-host, Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK. 

“Phil, on Wednesday, you headed west from Tameside to Stuart Street to visit the National Cycling Centre and interview Jon Dutton, British Cycling’s new Chief Executive. Tell us about that.”

Phil Jones

“I did indeed, Tim. What a surprise I got, when I arrived at the National Cycling Centre: a huge amount of construction going on outside the entrance, where they’re putting in a huge, massive, great big electrical charging station; solar-powered, it looks like, so that will be a fantastic resource for Greater Manchester. And, of course, Jon also reliably informed me that it was the first day that the coffee shop had reopened within the National Cycling Centre, so my visit was very, very well-timed. 

“And I think this is quite a scoop for the podcast, Tim. Jon confirmed to me that this was the first major interview that he’s given to anybody. He’ s only a month into the role, so, for me, for him to give me an hour of his time and have a conversation about a topic which is quite narrow among his entire portfolio. 

“Jon’s walked in having to organise the world championships. He’s got all these sporting disciplines, and then I rock up with my little folder underneath my arm wanting to talk about the road racing scene. I think it was very, very gracious of him to give up his time.”

Timothy John

“Excellent stuff, and already a step change, Phil, that this chief executive is clearly keen to talk to people outside of the National Cycling Centre. That’s a great sign. 

“Well, look, let’s not waste any more time, here. Let’s listen now to Phil in conversation with Jon Dutton, as we say, British Cycling’s new Chief Exec, and, Phil, if you don’t mind sticking around then perhaps we can reflect afterwards on the key points from the interview.”


Part One: Career History

Phil Jones

“Welcome to the latest of our series of Brother Cycling Podcasts. Regular listeners will remember we talked about the new CEO of British Cycling. We put an appeal out - ‘Jon, would you like to come on the Brother Cycling Podcast?’ - and, ladies and gentlemen, here I am today in the National Cycling Centre, it’s 2pm, it’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m sat opposite Jon Dutton, the new Chief Executive of British Cycling. Jon, firstly, thank-you for listening to our appeal.”

Jon Dutton

“My pleasure, Phil. Look, it’s an absolute privilege to be in the position. I’m only four weeks into the role. I’m delighted to be talking to you. I have listened to the podcast. I listened to a lot on the drive to Lincoln. I know we’re going to talk about that a little later. 

“I want to make a connection with your community, with the Brother Cycling community, and I’m here to make a difference.”

Phil Jones

“Well, fantastic. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we Jon? If we were to look you up - and I did, of course: straight to LinkedIn - you have a very, very long career in all things sport, spanning nearly three decades, actually. 

“So to give us a quick start, and for us to learn more about you, talk us through your career to date and to what led you here.”

Jon Dutton

‘Yeah, absolutely. I guess I’ve been really privileged to have worked my entire career in sport. I went to Northumbria University and did a degree ins sport management. I think at that point, I still aspired to be a professional athlete, ideally a rugby player, and I realised I was neither good enough, nor brave enough, to be perfectly honest. 

“I came out of university and worked for the European Golf Tour which was my first role: 22-years-old travelling the world with a wonderful itinerary. I worked on the Ryder Cup in 1997,

which was Tiger Woods’ first ever Ryder Cup. 

“I came out of that and worked in football for the FA. I was also privileged to work on the Champions League final, which was 2003 at Old Trafford. I then set up my own business and worked across multiple sports, and then, for the last 12 years, I’ve worked in rugby league. 

“There was a little bit in between that, which we can cover in a second, which was in 2014: I was the Director of Readiness for the Grand Départ, and, before coming to British Cycling, I’ve been on the board of the UCI World Championships which are going to happen in August. 

“So, a lot of sport. I’ve worked with professional athletes. I’ve worked in community settings. I have a real, genuine passion for cycling, so an absolute pleasure and a privilege to be

here at British Cycling, and I’ll go back to what I said at the start: I’m here to make a difference.”

Phil Jones

“Fantastic. Jon, when we met today, I’d figured out that you’re from Leigh in Lancashire. I know that you’re a very proud Leither, as they call them, and a ruby league man through and through. It’s no surprise that you did the job that you did, and that you had a fantastic impact. Lots of challenges, it looked like, lots of crises that you managed, all different things, while you were the chair of Rugby League. 

“What brought you here, then? What made you think, ‘Do you know what? It’s time to have a change and switch into cycling?’” 

Jon Dutton

“The Rugby League element: my dad took me to my first Rugby League game when I was five, so I’m in my 45th season of watching my home town club. Sport has been a huge part of my life, and in the last few years, I’ve been privileged to not just work on one Rugby League World Cup, but three; 2013, 2017, and our delayed tournament. 

“The tournament that we delivered, and the evaluation report which is just about to be published, says: ‘Tournament with a purpose, tackling inequalities and providing opportunities.’ It

doesn’t talk in the title about 61 games, 32 teams, elite athletes. 

“You’re absolutely right about the amount of challenge, overcoming adversity. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my professional career, but what goes with that is incredible pride in our achievement. 

“I think there are so many similarities coming here now into cycling. If I start with my very first job interview for this role, and I was asked why did I want the chance to be CEO? I said it was serendipitous. 

“First of all, I’d come to the end of my contract: we’d delivered the World Cup. I was looking for a new challenge.I think there are some challenges here in the organisation of the sport,

which I really walk towards, but also there are many opportunities, and that’s exactly what we managed to achieve in Rugby League. 

“I’m from Manchester We’re sat here in our wonderful headquarters. Some new improvements are being made to our velodrome…BMX and the incredible facilities we have here in Manchester. 

“I’m a proud Leither. I’m from Leigh. I’m also incredibly proud of being from the north of England, and I want to shout from the rooftops about sport and, in particular, about cycling and the difference it can make to the entire nation.”


Part Two: Purpose And Passion

Phil Jones

“You’ve used the word ‘purpose’ quite a lot already, just in the opening few minutes of our conversation, and you’re obviously very purpose-led, Jon. 

“What do you think, as part of your purpose, you’re hoping to achieve here? You’ve talked about some of those things, and, of course, you’ve got lots of things to cover including the

World Championships and participation. You’ve got so many things you can do in this role, so what underlying all of that do you want to be your purpose while you’re here as CEO?”

Jon Dutton

“I think, fundamentally, if we start and we connect sport, the sport element, the talent pathway, into podium and elite, but, fundamentally, it’s about more people enjoying cycling; being

on a bike, that feeling: liberating, empowering, giving freedom, from active travel all the way through to winning gold medals. I think that is the purpose of the organisation. 

“I think everybody will find their place and that was the same with our project in rugby league. A lot of the things that we deliver were about working with communities to tackle some of the social mobility challenges that we face and social purpose challenges that we face, whether that was volunteering, coaching, education, developing mental fitness, resilience, well-being etc. 

“If we can use the wonderful power that cycling has, we can do some more amazing things. I’m definitely purpose-led, and that starts here in the organisation, with culture. We’ve got some amazing people. 

“We can talk about some of our challenges, not least some of the financial constraints that we and others face, and we are moving to a more agile mode of delivery, but we will never lose sight of good people, high-quality culture and helping make a difference to people’s lives, whether that’s wining gold medals, whether that’s enjoying riding on a Saturday or Sunday

in your club, or weather that’s your first ever experience as a child on a bike and a lot more. 

“That’s the wonderful attraction of cycling to me. To reach the whole of the population in a way that rugby league, rugby union, and some other sports, will never have that opportunity.”

Phil Jones

“In our last podcast, I talked about when a new CEO come into a role, the first 100 days, strategic sensing, doing a lot of listening, and, actually, you’re doing the engagement bit really well, already, because you’re only four weeks in, and you’re engaging with us already, which is absolutely brilliant. 

“One thing I do know is that you have a huge amount of disciplines to ensure success in, from BMX, road, mountain bike - all the disciplines that you have to deliver in. You’ve got a huge amount of stakeholders, in terms of regions, Scottish Cycling, UK Sport, and governance. It’s quite complex. 

“Thinking about your first 100 days here as CEO, what’s on your mind?”

Jon Dutton

“Five things. First of all, and you’ve already mentioned it, actively listening. I think it’s really important. I have some knowledge. It’s been interesting in the first few weeks to try and broaden my horizon, and all of those different stakeholders, groups, people that have that corporate knowledge, to go and actively listen. 

“I think the second bit that’s linked to that is learning. I do come here with some knowledge, but I’ve got plenty to learn, and if I’m still the CEO here in five years time or 10 years time, I will still have things to learn. I have a really unquenchable desire to learn and to look outside at the world. I regard myself as a futurologist. I look to the future and make sure that we are

proactive and not reactive. 

“The third thing is getting out and being visible in the organisation. I’ve still not quite got to know everyone’s name just yet, but I’m working hard on that, because, of course, we’ve got people in the centre and people out in the regions. But going out and seeing people and begin visible. 

“And then, the more fundamental taking us forwards is about taking responsibility and being a leader. I have inherited a set of circumstances. I wasn’t here 12 months ago, two years ago. I’ve inherited some really positive things; I’ve inherited some challenges. None of that matters. What matters now is for me to take responsibility and to take ownership of those challenges and move us forwards. 

“And the fifth thing is to address some of this challenges head on, and some of those are immediate, but to never lose sight of opportunities, because I think our opportunities are

greater than our challenges.

“That, effectively, is my first 100 days, which I’m sure will move into whatever comes next. If I described myself, I would say I am relentless, determined, hopefully people find me humble, but absolutely here to make a difference and move the organisation forwards.”

Phil Jones

“You said the word ‘immediate’ just a moment ago, so what’s immediate for you?”

Jon Dutton

“I think ‘immediately’ is like every other national governing body, and some are quite well documented in the public eye a the moment: sport and the lingering impact of Covid is still with us. 

“Sport and national governing bodies have less resource than ever before, so we need to make sure that we are proactive: that whatever we have, whether given to us by government, whether given us to by partners, what we self-generate, that investment is going into making a difference in the cycling community. We will probably have less resource than in the halcyon days that have gone before, and we have to cut our cloth accordingly. 

“I was asked a really interesting question. I’ve done two all-teams sessions, staff sessions so far. ‘What are we going to stop doing if we have less resource?’ My answer to that is that we need to review everything, but maybe some things, we’re not gong to stop doing, but we’re going to do them differently. 

“That’s about being efficient, being agile. We’ve already mentioned we’ve got regional boards: they’re doing a great job with volunteers. We’ve got sport commissions focusing on the

disciplines. There’s an awful lot in that space that perhaps we have to take a step back and have a look at how we deal with things as efficiently as possible.”

Phil Jones

“We’re talking a lot in our business, Jon, about strategic alignment, and I’m sure everyone’s heard that analogy of the plane that flies for one hour, and goes one degree off every minute. That actually equates to 60 miles in one hour off your intended landing spot. 

“When you have complex organisations like British Cycling, it’s very easy for things to go off, or not be aligned, and the speed of the organisation and agility is quite a big thing to try and

get together. But I guess that’s what you want the organisation to be, and I guess every good governing body should be like that.”

Jon Dutton

“Absolutely, and we have a really big community. I go back to the point that I made before: our community, potentially, is everyone that we can reach cross the whole population. 

“We have our members, and we have to explore membership. I think there are some improvements we can make to customer journey though simplicity, to value to loyalty that we need

to make.

“How we were consuming our media in a digital way was changing before the pandemic. Our expectations of buying tickets for an event were changing. The pandemic has super-charged some of that change.

“Geo-political change. We live in quite a frightening world. There wasn’t war in Europe before the pandemic, there is now. Look at the implications of that. 

“And from a socio-economic perspective: the cost of living, soaring inflation; everything you face in your day to day in your business. That’s impacted our personal lives, but it’s also impacted our businesses. 

“We’ve got to accept that we live in a different world. We’ve got to now cut our cloth accordingly, have agility,  address the challenges but not lose sight of the opportunities.”

Part Three: Reputational Repair

Phil Jones

“No doubt, The uncomfortable truth its that British Cycling has been through a bit of a difficult time, it could be said,  for the last five or so years. You, no doubt, had a lens on that from your role parallel to the job you hold now. As an outsider looking in on that, how did you think that looked to the outside world, when you weren’t CEO?”

Jon Dutton

“Well, the first thing is that perception and reality are two different things. You will appreciate in your role, Phil, that leadership is about perhaps managing the shades of grey. Not everything is binary. 

“Undoubtedly, the organisation has faced some reputational challenges. I’m here, and I want to address those in a positive way. Things will happen, whether we take the narrative around transgender and non-binary, whether we take partnerships, or athlete welfare. Those are things that we are immersed in as a community of cycling but also some of those are non-cycling problems. 

“So we can take two things: one is to let stuff happen to you and react, or we can try and turn the dial and be proactive and talk about some of the amazing things that this sport does, some of the amazing people out there. I think we can celebrate and value our volunteers more. And have that storytelling that then continues to make us commercially attractive. That

our members feel valued and are part of a community.

"And I’m a realist as well, Phil. It’s all very well me coming on here and saying these things, and by all means bring me back in six months time or 12 months time and get the tape out and measure against it. 

“I don’t have a magic wand. There is no silver bullet. There is no overnight fix, but my one plea to the cycling community is that more than ever now we need a sense of unity, to come

together, because we all have differences of opinion, but, as one, I think we can do some amazing things.

“I’m here to address the challenges, make a difference, definitely change some of the perception of the organisation, but there will be some things that we just have to work our way through. 

“Who knows what the next big thing will be? Who would have predicted war in Europe for the first time in a lifetime and then such an incredible impact from an energy cost perspective and we live in an unstable political environment and that’s just part of our challenge.”


Part Four: The Road Ahead

Phil Jones

“Absolutely. I think everyone will give you the rope, Jon, and I what I mean by that is they will see that you’re out and you’re engaging. It might be said that perhaps the CEOs have been a bit quiet; that the previous two CEOs had not been on the from foot, so it’s absolutely fantastic that you’re here and a really good thing that our audience would want to hear. 

“Our specialist interest is the road racing scene, Jon, and this podcast specialises in the road racing scene, and one of the things that is often said to me is that BC has been a bit asleep at the wheel with regards to the domestic road racing scene and, of course, because of the type of sponsors that you’ve had in the past, there’s been a big focus on mass

participation, or, because of the other type of funding that you get, medals, and it’s been felt that perhaps road racing has been the poor relation between all of that. 

“If you look at what’s happened to the scene: the number of National A races that we have, the number of Conti teams has diminished, the sponsorship enrolment is shrinking, There have been quite a few heads down, I think it’s fair to say, [as a consequence of how] people perceive the scene has deteriorated. 

“I just wondered if you had an initial view about that. I know that you were at Lincoln at the weekend, which Is an amazing, Monument, flagship. If you want an event that’s done right,

it’s a good one to go to. But I just wondered what your early thoughts were around the domestic road racing scene.”

Jon Dutton

“Yeah, I think you summarised it perfectly there, Phil. I’m under no illusions that some of the things people remember from five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, when we were growing up, some of that we will never get back to what people think is perfect or ideal. I’m a big believer that perfection doesn’t exit. If we aim for perfection, we catch excellence and that’s perhaps the journey that we need to go on. 

“Road racing, in particular, I would probably describe as the squeezed middle. You’ve described participation and, absolutely, we have to nurture that because the more people who

engage with the bike are prospective athletes, members, whatever. The start I think is in a pretty good place. 

“The end of the continuum, our winning medals, podium, elite and talent pathways, is in a very, very good place, and that’s been incredibly well managed. Then you come to the middle, which is absolutely the hardest, across the spectrum - clubs, education, road racing in particular. We now have more diverse disciplines that ever before. BMX, freestyle and urban sports is huge and will only continue to grow. 

“We can go on to talk about the exponential growth of e-bikes, which weren’t around two, three, four, five years ago. If you go on a website now to buy a bike, you’re probably presented with more e-bike options than road bikes., 

“There’s a shift in the environment. What can we do about it? Yes, we have to have a careful look at it. I think the calendar of events is really important, and it’s great to see the Dudley

event announced. I know that the team has worked really hard on that. I’ll give you my reflections on Lincoln, which are all absolutely positive. 

“I think we just need to look at what we can do from a support perspective, areas where we perhaps need to be less interventionist, just let things happen, but accept that we’re never going to build a ‘perfect’. And it’s also just worth noting the massive shift in the number of professional riders on the WorldTour. I think, overall, including men and women, it’s about 50 riders. 

“You look at [Geraint] Thomas leading the Giro, and hopefully, fingers crossed, when the podcast goes out, that’s still the case. You look at the success that we’ve had over the past few years in the [Grand] Tours, that we just haven’t had previously. Measuring our experience against what we believe was halcyon and perfect five years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago, again, the ground is shifting. 

“Hopefully, that makes some sort of sense by recognising that we’re in a different environment. Yes, we need to take a closer look at it. We have no magic wand, and, even throwing multiple resource at it, we have fewer professional teams in Britain than before. I do think the calendar is important. I do think we need to step up and support the best opportunities for riders….Realise what is the best, what are they capable of, and what environment can we as BC provide, and try to make sense of it in that way.

“There’s no easy answer at all. The organisation has less money. We operate in a £1bn industry, I would suggest, in cycling across the globe, but some of that is lifestyle, some of that is

Zwift and the growth we’re seeing in that direction, and some of it is people buying e-bikes.”

Phil Jones

“Absolutely. My role here today is to speak up for the roadies who are passionate about the scene. I’m conscious that you have multiple objectives and people you have to make sure that you’re serving. 

“On our last episode, or perhaps on the one before, we talked about the fact that the scene isn’t that on its knees. There’s a thriving B scene going on. Obviously, we know we’ve got a

slightly curtailed National Road Series. It looks to me like there’s quite an easy win in assisting some of the people organising the Bs to take them up to As.

“One of the things we’re seeing at the moment is our Conti teams and EDTs racing abroad for the fitness. They’re going to Belgium or France and that’s primarily because they haven’t quite go the quantity of races over here. 

“I’m conscious that there isn’t a magic wand. Nobody’s come here today to thump the table and say, ‘We want £5m out of your pocket today, because the reality is, and I run a business

myself, you can’t just magic this stuff up. 

“You’ve got to go through your listening phase, you’ve got to then look at your easy wins and then, I guess, present what’s do-able, because you can’t do everything. As much as people want it, you can’t. You can only do the bits you think you can do, which might be fairly easy to do, fairly low-resource and within your control, and get those done and see if we can get some improvements.”

Jon Dutton

“Absolutely, Phil. I wholeheartedly agree, and I think what is important is that we look at everything. We look at the environment that we’re operating in, we look at the financial constraints, we look at race organisers, we look at volunteers and stewards, we look at local authorities and road closures. We look at everything, and we come out with calendar clarity, communication. 

“We won’t please all the people, I can absolutely guarantee that. Leadership is difficult, and you’ve got to make difficult decisions, but we’ve just got to make sure that we provide the best in every area of the business, recognising that some things that are in a growth phase now weren’t around in recent memory. That’s just the instability of a changing environment,

but there are many opportunities. 

“I know we’re going to talk about Scotland, but that opportunity in August to see the diversity of the disciplines, I think, to the wider population is incredibly exciting.”

Part Five: Glasgow Calling

Phil Jones

“Let’s just quickly park on there, because you’re just mentioned [the 2023 UCI World Championships} in Scotland. I know that’s an incredible event. You’re involved in that in a fairy heavy way. Talk to us about what you think the ambition is for that event; for the worlds.”

Jon Dutton

“I would describe it as bold and brave, Phil. Bringing together 13 disciplines over 10 days in Scotland. A real focus on Glasgow, but also some fairly rural locations. I’m travelling to Fort William next week to have a look at what they’re doing up there. I’ve been to Stirling fairly recently. 

“I just think from a visibility perspective…There’s a curiosity factor. We’re going to see cycloball, we’re going to see artistic cycling; perhaps, for me, for the first time. I think that opens it up to a different audience. We’re going to see some amazing action on the track and on the road. Circuit finishes on George Street in Glasgow. A really technical circuit. I think it’s going

to be absolutely fantastic.

“We’re going to see lots of para activity. We’re going to see mountain bike - gravity and marathon - on some amazing courses. It’s got all the ingredients. Hopefully, the sun will shine in Scotland. We can’t promise that, but we’ve got strong domestic TV coverage and we, as the Rugby League World Cup, saw the unbelievable benefits to that. Our audiences at times were reaching 3m people. 

“Some people told me that the first time they watched rugby league was the World Cup, and the wheelchair events: the first time ever [that they’d watched rugby league’] for a sport that’s 128 years old. Hopefully, through the cycling World Championships, we can do some of that. 

“People will see Tom Pidcock, an amazing athlete doing amazing things, but will also see the diversity of freestyle in BMX, BMX racing, mountain and all of those different things. I think

it’s really wonderful that the cycling community is going to come together and the spotlight of the world is going to be on Scotland for ten days. 

“I was talking to friends in [cycle] speedway. Speedway isn’t one of the 13 disciplines, but they, of their own volition, have organised an event in Dunfermline and said, ‘Right, we want to be part of this. Have a look at how great [cycle] speedway is.’ So, just a celebration, visibility, and definitely bold and brave.”

Part Six: Television Dreams

Phil Jones

“That sounds fantastic. I know it will be. There’ll be significant resources going in to make sure that it’s the event it’s meant to be. 

“Now you mentioned TV there, which be a bit of a contentious issues among the road community, Jon, because, of course, there wea a time when the A series was televised. Of course, for funding reasons, that was pulled, because you were paying a huge amount of money at the time to, Eurosport, I think it was, and with the number of viewers, it was becoming difficult to justify. 

“And you described earlier how things have moved on. We’ve seen people like GCN come on the scene, and other methods of digital streaming, so I wondered whether you could give any confidence to people who are passionate about the scene, whether that could be something on the consideration list again, and I’m not talking about another big TV deal; I’m just saying other ways to bring racing to the lounges of the country.” 

Jon Dutton

“Definitely on the consideration list because I think the sport continues to need visibility in a really busy environment. Again, will it replicate what’s happened before? Probably not. The simple economics of TV production, but you’re absolutely right, Phil, things can be done in a slightly different way in the streaming opportunity. 

“So definitely, definitely on the agenda. It might take some time to work through, until we’ve got a more sustainable business model. We’ve got some amazing things happening, like Tom Pidcock last weekend. On Friday, in the training ride, starting 40th out of 41 and winning the short course, backing up and winning the long course. There was TV coverage, but largely people across the UK didn’t see that, and that’s one amazing feat that one amazing athlete has done, and we just need to find a way [to reach audiences].

“Some of it is storytelling, some of it is our own content, some of it is hero-ing some of our amazing athletes as part of the Team GB programme. However cycling becomes more visible

is a good thing.

“On the agenda, happy come back and maybe talk about that in a few months’ time, but, there’s a theme here: no magic wand, no overnight solution.”


Part Seven: A Helping Hand

Phil Jones

“One of the struggles that I think some of the teams have, and also some of the organisers, is raising sponsorship dollars. You know, I’m a sponsor. I have sponsored up to six teams in one season, as well as races. We have a sponsorship deal with Sweetspot for the Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain. 

“The one thing that they do need is to sell exposure, and we’ve seen a narrowing of the exposure window, where we’ve gone from being televised, back to racing around villages with

20 people at the side of the road, and that is obviously not a compelling sponsorship sell to any brand.

“One thing I do know that many of the teams need and many of the race organisers need is a hand with raising sponsorship. You’ve got some really capable organisers out there, as far as I can see. You talked about Dudley a moment ago: Chris Lawrence, fantastic; Marc Etches. 

“You’ve got all of these people doing fantastic things, but I think there are other people organising National B races who I think could just do with a hand, frankly, and even if that means

just using some of your commercial team to help them raise sponsorship locally to either lift a race or make it more economically viable. Is that something that you would consider?

Jon Dutton

“I look at it through a slight different lens, and it goes back to my point earlier: if the cycling community, those who are the most passionate, come together in a unifying way, and if we can enhance the reputation of British Cycling as a whole, and increase the whole GDP of the sport domestically, and if we do that - however we do it - everyone can then take the benefit. 

“Specific to sponsorship, it’s hard. I’ve just run a tournament where we had 15 brand new partners, including some blue chip names, and it was hard yards. It took a number of years to

get to that position. It was only done because of our purpose, because of our values, because of our vision and our storytelling. That’s the bit about the hard yards. 

"Now, there almost needs to be a reset and some positivity and then more brands will be attracted in whatever way. It might be to a race, it might be to an organisation, but that GDP level, once that starts to increase….

“We’re not on our own, and this is absolutely not an excuse in any shape or form, but if you look at what’s happening in athletics at the moment. I have friends in UK Athletics who are suffering at the moment because of some decisions that have been made around broadcast that have reduced the level of income in the organisation, that have impacted sponsorship, that have created a real challenge, and some might even describe it as a crisis. That’s happening in the world. That’s not just endemic to cycling or British Cycling. 

“It’s a tough nut to crack. It goes back to: let’s put our best foot forwards, be unified, be positive. You’ve got more of a chance by being postive than you have with negativity, cynicism, criticism. We need to be counted, but for those who love the sport most, this is the time to play their part as well.”

Part Eight: Start-Stop-Continue

Phil Jones

“Absolutely, Jon, and I think what we’ve always felt about this podcast is just being a critical friend: raising the issues, but not being cynical about them, not being hyper-critical. We’ve been talking up the B scene; not being negative about it, but saying, ‘What do we have that we can be proud of, and what can we build from?'

“Your arrival is nice timing, because, of course, you can do your strategic reviews, and you’ve got documents in place already, The Road Ahead, and all these sorts of things, but I guess you’re going to be reviewing all that stuff anyway in your new role, because the board will have signed all those things off - ‘We think that’s the right way’ - but you’ve arrived now and no doubt will want to be reviewing averting and writing a report  to the board about what you think you’ve found.” 

Jon Dutton

“Yeah, and based on simplicity, so let’s create the most simplistic route map to success. That doesn’t need to be pages and pages. No one wants to hear about strategy. People want to hear about action and direction, and simplicity has a really key part to play in that. 

“The board has a key part to play, the exercise has a part to play, the community have a part to play, but that’s what excites me, Phil, and that’s why I’m here. I’m here for the challenge with 28 years of experience and everything I’ve done. My favourite quote is, ‘Without challenge, there is no achievement,’ and that absolutely sums it up. I do like challenge because I think it leads to achievement. 

“Sometimes, with less, you have the ability to do more because it focuses the mind, it makes you more disciplined, and I recognise some of that in the early days here.”

Phil Jones

“Start-stop-continue is something that we’re thinking about all the time, and every organisation has to. You simply cannot carryon with the way you did things, particularly in this very fast moving external environment that we have, as you described. Geo-political events are changing, governments are changing, government strategies are changing, funding is changing. 

“All of these things are changing quite dynamically, and I don’t think we can rely on anything. Certainly, at Brother we don’t. We just assume that we’ve got to be hungry all the time, and we have to cut our cloth accordingly all the time, and act like a start-up. That’s the way we try to run our business, even though we’re a huge enterprise, we try and be agile, innovative

and never, ever think that lunch is coming.”

Jon Dutton

“It’s an absolutely brilliant approach, and to follow on from the lunch theme: it really struck me last week, listening to Radio Four, and there was an item last week about our shopping baskets, and how shopping has got more expensive, and it focussed on a cheese sandwich. 

“There are three component parts to a cheese sandwich: there’s the bread, the spread and the cheese. It’s a third more expensive to make a simple cheese sandwich than it was 12 months ago, and I think if you use that metric and start to think about some of the bigger stuff, whether it’s the cost of bikes, of closing down town centres to stage races, whatever the metric is, measure it on that cheese sandwich, I think that tells us the size of the challenge. But it doesn’t mean to say we stop doing things. We probably just need to do things in a different way.“

Part Nine: Career Progression

Phil Jones

“Just looping back to road cycling. A moment ago, you mentioned some of these incredible Grand Tour riders that we see: Tao Geoghan-Hart, Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe, you know, all of these folks who have made the transition up to the WorldTour, and I guess during that time they’ve been through the stepping stones, and I think one of the frustrations or observations that people have made is that with the road scene as it is, those stepping stones aren’t quite so obvious. 

“If you were a young cyclist now, thinking, ‘How do I make a carer of this,’ you’d probably have a bunch of people saying, ‘unless you’re on the talent programme at BC, it’s probably going to be quite difficult for you to make a career out of this,’ where, probably, in the halcyon days, go back 10 or 15 years, when we had some amazing Conti teams in the UK, riders earning good salaries, earning a living out of cycling. 

“If we contrast that with today. We’ve shrunk our Conti teams down to two: Trinity and St Piran. What would your advice be if you were a 16-year-old, budding professional road cyclist in the UK? Would it be just to move abroad?“

Jon Dutton

“Oh, look, I’m not sure I understand that properly enough to give an informed view, but I go back to participation for inspiration, which I think is absolutely critical, whether it’s the road or the track or the next Kai White or whatever that is, and we need visibility to be able to do that. 

“Also, I go to back to the point that if we have 50 men and women that are more than earning a living on the WorldTour and being incredibly successful, we have done something right, and it’s just to understand that maybe the steps need to be slightly different. 

“The UK domestic road scene will always be important. It’s maybe playing a slightly different role than it was five or 10 years ago. I don’t understand the intricacies of that, and that’s

why active listening, education, outreach, going to talk to as many people as possible. 

“I had a wonderful hour last week with Ed Clancy. Ed is just a ball of energy, and wears multiple hats: Active Travel Commissioner for South Yorkshire, with a real interest in e-bikes. It was really interesting listening to him split and navigate between active travel, lifestyle and recreation, and sport. 

“My question is that If you had a golden pound, what would you put on each bit? I think that’s quite an interesting philosophical challenge for us all. Maybe brands, maybe the

government are thinking in that way. 

“Protect the things that are important and maybe take that less interventionist approach and almost let things sort themselves out. If we didn’t have 50 GB riders on the WordlTour, and we weren’t winning on the track, on the field of play, then we definitely have a problem. It is perhaps surpassing expectations at that top end.” 

Phil Jones

“I have to say that I think it’s absolutely fantastic that our former Olympians and Paralympians are stepping into these roles as Active Travel Commissioners. Who better as an inspiration or as someone who really understands what it means to train on the roads, or to understand what health and fitness can do for a population than somebody like Ed Clancy or Dame Sarah Storey? Absolute kudos to them for doing. It.”

Jon Dutton

“I went away from that hour with Ed absolutely exhausted because he’s an absolute ball of energy, and you couldn’t get anyone who’s more passionate, but he’s been there. He has been there and is hugely respected, and I think, as agents of change, it’s brilliant that our athletes at the end of their careers are transitioning into that advocacy role and we’d love to help support them however we can do that.”

Phil Jones

“Absolutely. One of the other things that was on my mind, pre-Covid, you had someone here, Erick Rowsell, who was in post to babysit the road scene, effectively; to be that vocal person, that person internally at BC who would champion, effectively, that middle bit: ‘Hey, what about road racing?’ 

“Now, Erick, obviously isn’t here anymore. We think of life now, don’t we, as pre-Covid and after Covid, so I’m definitely thinking pre-Covid with this one. So do you think at any point that you might consider, Jon, to re-appoint someone to be that guardian of the road scene?”

Jon Dutton

“Yeah. We replaced Erick with Kathryn McClelland, directly, and Catherine is supported by Jonathan Day. Jonathan has been in the organisation for about 10 years, leading our sport and participation element. Neither of them were professional cyclists in the way that Erick was, but are here to make a difference and to work out the calendar that we talked about, to support our series events and make sure that proportionately we do what we set out to do and provide those opportunities. 

“It just goes back, Phil, to the complex environment in which we operate. We have some brilliantly talented people who are passionate about cycling and to understand those challenges and then put our best foot forwards.” 

Part Ten: On Tour

Phil Jones

“Jon, I’m conscious of time today, and you’ve been super generous in giving me an hour of your time, practically in your first month, so I’m just going to start wrapping up. It would be great if you can come back and perhaps we can keep our conversation going. 

“I know sometimes when you’re doing interview with media who have a specific agenda or they want to position something in a certain way: we don’t have any agenda, really, other than to see domestic road racing thrive and be an important pillar of cycling in the country, honestly speaking, so it’s great to have this direct dialogue with you, to get inside your head and to

understand what you’re thinking, so thank-you for your time today. 

“Now, before I go, I wanted to ask you something. You said you were a cyclist, and that’s always a big tick in the box for the cycling community - ‘Isn’t that CEO a cyclist?’ - so you obviously are a cyclist. So what bike do you ride, Jon? Come on!”

Jon Dutton

“I’ve got a mountain bike. I would describe myself as a leisure/recreational cyclist. I run a lot. I ran the Manchester Marathon recently. I should have run the Leeds Marathon on Sunday but instead went to Lincoln. 

“I ride a mountain bike. My favourite red mountain bike shoes broke last week. Red is my colour, so I was devastated to have to change those. I love getting out, more from a mental

well-being perspective. 

“I remember growing up, probably between the ages of 14 and 21, I had a road bike, and every day of every holiday, I’d be out on my bike, cycling the roads that probably are slightly safer than they are in the modern day. 

“I’m a Tour de France super fan. I’ve been to the Tour so many times. I was there in ’89 for that duel between Fignon and LeMond on the Champs-Élysées. That will be live with me forever. Absolutely incredible. 

“I grew up watching Stephen Roche, Sean Kelly. Just growing up watching those and then transitioning through. As with many people my age, Lance Armstrong was a hero, an absolute

hero. When that unfolded, that was pretty devastating and made me question everything about sport and some things about life. 

“I fell back in love with the Tour, and I think the Tour de France is just such an amazing event, and, obviously, a pleasure to work on it in 2014.”

Phil Jones

“I was going to ask you about that because that’s just your dream event, surely? For someone who’s so passionate about the Tour de France to suddenly be involved with delivery, the man involved with delivery, so just talk to us about your highlights of those three days.” 

Jon Dutton

“It was, how can I best describe it? Externally facing. Just amazing. I am good friends with Simon Wilkinson, cycling photographer, and Simon’s iconic images just sum it up. 

“I came in quite late. I was only in the role for four months. We only had 10 months to deliver it, from the ASO handing over the keys to the organisers and closing some of the rural

roads in North Yorkshire. There were some tough moments, like the guys in Scotland are going through.

“And then the sun came out, the crowds came out, and more, and more, and more, with the colour. You can still cycle around Yorkshire and see all of those yellow bikes that were there in 2014. 

“It was an amazing opportunity. I was also involved in the transfer of the riders. We could only take them to Peterborough before they started in Cambridge, part of the regulation into

London and then transfer out of the country. Amazing moments. 

“I think the reflection of the organisers and the UK government is, ‘Bring things here to the UK. We’re not only a safe pair of hands, but people will get behind the sport.’ I go back to those iconic images. Utterly amazing.” 

Phil Jones

“Great shout out for Simon Wilkinson. @swpix, if you’re not already following him. One of our great photographers in the UK. 

“It’s hard to believe that it’s only ten years on, isn’t it? It’s hard to believe it was 10 years ago. Where has that time gone?”

Jon Dutton

“Where has that time gone? What happened in London in 2012, and then 2014. That success that we’ve had, which started with Chris Boardman, that occasion in yellow, and then Brad

Wiggins winning, and then Froome’s domination, and Thomas, and Pidcock’s stage win last year. 

“When I was growing up, my early memories of following Stephen Roche as the Irish rider. You could count on the fingers of one hand the number of cyclists in the Tour with GB colours. 

“Now, to fast forward to what we have now, we have lots of talent, lots to celebrate. Hopefully, the Tour will come back in the not too distant future. That would be an amazing thing for us

all to aim for. Those stepping stones of August, of Paris - we’ve got so much to look forward to on road, track and para in Paris - who knows. 

“And then everything else: the Tour of Britain. There’s obviously some work to be done on the Tour Series and on the Women’s Tour and on our National Series, but my reflections on spending Sunday in Lincoln are just amazing. Just absolutely fantastic. Every single bit of it, from the organisation to the backdrop, the cathedral. I was thinking: ‘The Magna Carter is just in that building over there.’ 

“The crowds. The weather. The routes. Michaelgate. Seeing all the riders riding in the gutter and getting off the cobbles. Every single component part. Getting out in the car and seeing the course. Yeah, I’m not sure if my timing was strategic, but that’s a pretty great thing to aim for going forwards.”

Part Eleven: Legacy Planning

Phil Jones

“The bar has certainly been set very high there, Jon. Now, before we leave, when I was stalking you on your LinkedIn, I read a post that you’d written where you’d given four things that you’d thought about when you’re leading a business: consider your legacy, look after your people, learn from others and know what you stand for. 

“I just want to zoom forwards now. Let’s call it ten years from now, Jon. Let’s say that you’re retiring, way before your time, of course, and you’re judging yourself against the legacy that

you feel that you’ve left. 

“What is it that you’d like to have left, once you’ve served your tenure here?”

Jon Dutton

“I don’t see myself retiring at 60, Phil. Although it’s a great aspiration, I have too much energy. I think it’s really simple: make a difference. In any organisation, come in and make a difference. I can proudly reflect on what I’ve seen with the Rugby League World Cup. We have made a difference. We’ve made a difference to people’s lives. Some of the people we reached out to and impacted upon said: ‘You have changed my life,’ and I think that’s incredibly powerful. 

“I think if we can do some of that here, with BC, which we’re more than capable of doing, I would love that to be a legacy. And it’s not just about me. I am one vulnerable human being,

leading an organisation full of incredibly talented people with a community that’s very passionate and will, I’m sure, at times, like any other community, have something to say.

“I’m sure if we do all those things that you’ve listed: if we listen, if we learn - actions, most definitely speak louder than words - and then measure me on, ‘Has Jon made a difference to the organisation? Are they in a better place than they were before?’ Or whatever that metric is. 

“I’ll be very pleased with that, and I’m up for that. I’m here to be accountable and just so privileged to be in an organisation that I think has so much more growth in a sport that I think is absolutely, utterly wonderful.” 

Phil Jones

“And there you have it folks, from the man himself: Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of British Cycling, thanks for your time today. 

Jon Dutton

“Thanks for the opportunity, Phil.”

Part Twelve: Reflections

Timothy John 

“So, wonderful to hear there, Phil, from British Cycling’s new Chief Executive, Jon Dutton. Excellent job with the interview. I think you got the major points, the major questions in, for fans of domestic road racing. 

“One thing that struck home with me is a phrase that Jon used again and again: ‘Make a difference.’ He’s keen to get into British Cycling and make change where change is required.

Did that resonate with you?” 

Phil Jones

“Without a doubt. Obviously, I do a lot in the leadership space, effectively looking at what effective leadership looks like; what good leadership looks like. I saw within Jon somebody who’s a very, very purpose-driven and very values-driven leader. I think you’ve only got to look back at his 12 years at Rugby League to really see what sort of an individual he is. 

“I found him very straight talking, and very open. There weren’t any questions that he was ducking. I think when he can’t answer things or feels he still needs more information, he kind

of says that. I think he was very honest and owned the idea of accountability and accepting what’s gone and trying to move on.

“My overall impression was he’s very future focussed. He really wants to see a slightly different picture for the future than exists today. He recognises that there’s going to be some change. He recognises that he’s going to have to do that with limited resources; perhaps limited financial resources. The environment that we’re all in now, around sponsorship and income streams, is very, very different. 

“I think he’s a very pragmatic individual. I definitely walked away thinking, ‘I think they’ve got a really, really good candidate there who could be someone to drive change within British Cycling over the coming decade.’”

Timothy John

“Absolutely. He described himself at one point in the interview, Phil, as a realist. No magic wand. No silver bullet. No overnight fixes. But at the same time, very positive: let’s maximise the resources that we do have, let’s do things in a different way, if that’s more efficient. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to stop doing things. I thought that was a reassuring message. 

“Everything’s on the table, up to and including restoring coverage to the National Road Series. It might not be broadcast television, it might be a different solution, but it’s certainly up for discussion. 

“There was a lot of positivity there; a lot of willingness to get out and get involved. And what clearer sign than he sat down and spoke to you for an hour, four weeks into the job?”

Phil Jones

“Yes, that was. And one of the things that we talked about in the last podcast was that first 100 days, if you recall. We generalise, when a new CEO comes in to seat, they’ve got this first 100 days, a listening phase, a strategic sensing phase, and Jon was clearly deep within that.

“He said he’d already had a couple of town halls with all the members and colleagues at British Cycling. He’s already been to Lincoln, so he’s out there, right at the coalface, really beginning to see how things work.

“I think once you get this concept of how the work works. We talk about that a lot at our place. How does the work work? You talk to the people who are doing that work day-on-day, about their frustrations, how things can be done better. Then you zoom the helicopter back out again and say, ‘Ok, I’ve done all that, these are things that I think we can begin to change.'

“I think at the minute Jon is inhaling the entire sport, and that’s one heck of a thing to do because, of course, it’s not just road racing. It’s mountain bike, it’s speedway, it’s BMX. Oh, and looming on the horizon, you have the worlds in Glasgow, which will probably dominate a lot of the strategic planning, time, attention, operational things, and, of course, the experience that he had in delivering the Tour de France Grand Départ back in 2014. Will stand him and British Cycling in really good stead. "

Timothy John 

“Yeah, absolutely, Phil, and wonderful that he did go to the Lincoln Grand Prix. What an event at which to start your stewardship of British Cycling: a blue riband, Monument of the domestic calendar. Let’s hope that sparks a love affair with the National Road Series. 

“Something else that jumped out of the recording at me, Phil: he said, ‘Hopefully, the Tour will come back to us in the not too distant future. That would be an amazing things for us all to

aim for.’

“Now, wouldn’t that be something, if we could get the Tour de France back for a second Grand Départ?”

Phil Jones

“Absolutely. Clearly, on Jon’s agenda, what he first wants to do is make the Worlds a success for all the different cycling disciplines that are going to turn up while the world’s eye is on Glasgow and the surrounding areas. For me, that is the launch pad for that. 

“For me, let’s make the Worlds a huge success. Let us in the UK, all the people who love cycling, let’s give that the support it needs, and let’s then hope that it becomes a launchpad for

another Tour de France Grand Départ some time time in our future.”

Timothy John

“Absolutely. Well, chapeau, Phil. Wonderful interview. Brilliant scoop. Excellent to have the new Chief Executive of British Cycling on the Brother UK Cycling Podcast.”


Timothy John

“Now, if people want to follow Cold Dark North on social media, how do they go about it?”

Deb John

“Our website is just colddarknorth.co.uk. I think it comes up first on any search. It’s a great site. Well done, Toby, for putting it together. It’s well worth looking at. If you want to know about any of the riding around here, the hills, you can just look at all the interviews with racers, non-racers, people who’ve done the Fred Whitton seven times and can really tell you about it; women who’ve done the Fred [Whitton] seven times, who can tell you about all the hills. 

“It’s a great website to look at, and the Instagram account and the Stories are really well done, so you can check that out about Capernwray.”

Timothy John

“Brilliant. And your social media address is @colddarknorth, I think. 

“Don’t forget everybody, this Sunday sees the second round of the Proper Northern Road Race Series at Oakenclough in Lancashire, close to the Forest of Bowland. The men will

compete over six laps and the women will race for five laps. Each lap is 17.5km and contains 270m of climbing, so far from flat.

“If you want live updates, race photography, video interviews then follow Brother UK-sponsored VeloUK on Twitter @velouk and @aussielarry. Of course, you can follow Brother Cycling, too. We’re @brothercycling on all three channels.

“Deb, thank-you very much indeed for joining me today, and thank-you to everybody out there for listening.”

Phil Jones

“If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe.”