1. Home Brother
  2. Cycling
  3. Brother Cycling Podcast
  4. 2024
  5. Episode 53: “2024 Women's CiCLE Classic”

Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 53

Episode Description

The 2024 Women’s CiCLE Classic, Rod Ellingworth’s appointment as Race Director of the Tours of Britain and Cold Dark North’s Proper Northern Road Race Series are just some of the topics covered in this new episode, presented by co-hosts Timothy John and Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK. 
 
 
 
 
The Brother UK Cycling Podcast

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

Episode 53: 2024 Women's CiCLE Classic Review 

Episode contents

  • 00.05 - Introduction
  • 00.37 - Hello And Welcome
  • 06.09 - Part One: News Round-Up
  • 14.48 - Part Two: 2024 Women's CiCLE Classic Review
  • 34.54 - Part Three: Meet The Parents
  • 52.35 - Part Four: Rod Ellingworth and the Tours of Britain
  • 1.01.35 - Part Five: 2024 Proper Northern Road Race Series

Transcript

Introduction

Timothy John

“Hello and welcome to this new edition of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, with me Timothy John, where today I’m joined by my co-host Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK. 

“Phil, good to see you.”

Phil Jones

“Hi Tim. Yeah, great to be here.”

Timothy John

"Tell me, Phil, how are your nerves after spending a day in the DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK team car at the women’s CiCLE Classic. Not for the faint-hearted!”

Phil Jones

“No, I don’t think you’d want to be a car owner on that course, Tim. The cars really do take a battering on that course. There were a few times when we had some body panels and skirting scraping the road as we either hit potholes or just drifted off of the main parcours onto the path and bounced our way back on again. I imagine there are quite a few cars needing a visit to the garage after that race.” 

Timothy John

“Well, I’m not surprised. We’re going to talk today in some detail about the Women’s CiCLE Classic in depth, but I’m sure everybody by now will have seen the pictures on VeloUK and elsewhere. The muddiest race you’ve ever been to Phil?”

Phil Jones

“I think so, yeah. It was brutal. Getting out of the car at the end of the race, I said to Ian, actually, and Dean Downing - Dean Downing was around supporting some of his coached riders - that you have really got to admire the bike handling skills of those riders who compete in that race. 

“Some of the parcours was so churned up and muddy and slippery and, at times, deep, that you’ve got to have amazing bike handling skills. You’ve not only got to be a really good bike rider and have all the attributes that we’d expect of somebody to read a race and have the underlying fitness and all those sorts of things, but on this one it’s a different level. 

“It brings a layer of bike handling that I think only the most confident of riders could end up winning that race.”

Timothy John

“Absolutely, and we’ll hear a bit later in the episode from Hope Inglis of Brother UK - Team OnForm. Hope has represented Great Britain, so no surprise to see that she was the highest-placed finisher for Brother UK-Team OnForm. All of those ‘cross skills coming in handy on that unbelievably muddy course.

“We’re also going to talk about a huge appointment: Rod Ellingworth, who can justifiably claim to have revolutionised the development of young British riders when he formed the road programmes for British Cycling’s Olympic Academy. 

“Now, Rod's had a glittering career in the UCI WorldTour, winning Grand Tours as a race coach at Team Sky and later serving as General Manager at Bahrain-McLaren and as Deputy

Team Principal at INEOS Grenadiers, well, he has been appointed Race Director of British Cycling’s Tours of Britain for men and women. 

“A bit of genuinely exciting news, Phil. I remember you and I swapping messages on the day this appointment was announced. It’s been rare, hasn’t it, in recent years to get a bit of news that really sets the adrenaline flowing, but this has to be one of the more exciting announcements, I’d suggest.” 

Phil Jones

“Yeah, it’s a big appointment. Clearly, Rod Ellingworth’s hugely experienced on the WorldTour. You look at that clinically and go, ‘Well, actually, does Rod have the absolute skills and competencies to be in role? Probably not, but as a name and as somebody who is capable and who could lean in to that role quickly, is he that? Yes, he is.

“Then you look at the wider network of people whom Rod Ellingworth knows, not just nationally but globally in the sport, and say, given the momentous challenge that British Cycling have ahead: I mean, let’s be honest about it, it’s a massive undertaking to get these two tours organised, particularly with the Women’s Tour so close, that you are going to need to pull on as many people and resources and favours as you possibly can. 

“So, if it were me, the first place I’d be looking is, who do I know who knows lots of people who can help in this particular set of circumstances? I think Rod Ellingworth really fits that

profile.”

Timothy John

“Well, Rod Ellingworth’s contacts book must be like no other, I'd imagine. He must know everybody at the sport’s highest level, and, as we know, he has the health of British riders and British road racing very much in his heart. 

"I'd thoroughly recommend having a read of Rod's Project Rainbow book to anybody out there who hasn't done so. It's been out a number of years now, but if you want to learn more about Rod's career, it's a great reference.

“The other major topic we’re going to tackle today Phil is the Proper Northern Road Race Series, organised by Cold Dark North. Brother UK will serve as prize fund sponsor, and that

gets underway this Sunday, March 31, with the Capernwray Road Race. I mean, this really is a cherished series.”

Phil Jones

“Absolutely. In fact, I’ve just had the race manual from Toby and Debs, which is lovely. and looks really professional, as you would expect. I think those guys always raise the game, set high standards for themselves and want to create a great race series.

“Very exciting. Let’s just hope the weather holds up. Here in the North West, we’re not known for our sunny conditions, let’s put it that way, and we’ve had an awful lot recently of rain and wind recently. It’s been quite a strange weekend just gone. We’ve gone from one day having 40mph gusts to the next day it being quite clear, so I’m genuinely hoping for all the riders that they have a clear day for the race on Sunday.”

INTERLUDE

Part One: News Round-Up

Timothy John

“Well, talk of weather conditions Phil gives us a perfect lead in to our news round-up and a summary of the Peaks 2 Day, a National B event held over both days of the weekend just gone, and if ever a race was affected by the weather, it was this one. 

“Now, the women’s race was supposed to open last Saturday morning with a time-trial, but that was cancelled for fear of snow. The following stages of the women’s race and all

three stages of the Open race went ahead, but sleet, hail, biting crosswinds and, yes, even sunshine, were all part of the mix.  

"Overall victory in the women’s race went to Imogen Woolf of Shibden-Apex RT, hot on the heels of her triumph in the junior Trofeo Binda. Second was Lucy Gadd of LeCol, who won the final road stage. And third overall was Morven Yeoman of DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK, who’d finished second on the opening stage.

“In the Open race, Tom Martin of Wheelbase-CabTech-Castelli took overall victory ahead of runner-up Damian Clayton of LeCol and third-placed Jacob Smith, another Wheelbase-

CabTech-Castelli rider.

“Phil, just how significant a signing is Morven Yeoman for DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK? You witnessed her in action at the CiCLE Classic, where she finished in an impressive seventh place.”

Phil Jones 

“Yes, I did, and I’m not going to say that everyone was surprised that she was in the top ten. When you look at her, and you look at her physique and riding style, she doesn’t look like your traditional rouleur; the sort of person who would win a Classic or be at the pointy end of a Classic. But clearly, she’s got the power, and she’s got the race awareness to know where to be and to position herself, and, as a result, here she is in the top ten. 

“When the radio reports were coming through into the car, and we were hearing that Morven was right up there at the pointy end of the race, Ian, the team manager, wasn’t that surprised. He knows she’s a very, very capable rider, and I would say, watch out for Morven in the Proper Northern Road Race Series this Sunday because I think the hilliness of the route will really suit her.”

Timothy John

“Yeah. Well. let’s hear a little bit from Morven now. I caught up with her soon after the CiCLE Classic, in the week before the Peaks 2 Day. 

“She began her season in February, when DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK, who’d been training in Altea on the Costa Blanca, received an invitation to the Clasica de Almeria, a UCI 1.1

race with professional teams including Ceratizit-WNT and Human Powered Health.

“Let’s hear now from Morven.”

Morven Yeoman

“Yeah, so, as a kid, I got put into most sports. My dad used to do cycling, and then my brother who’s 27 and quite a bit older than me, took up cycling. I just thought: ‘My brother’s really cool. I need to do cycling as well.’ 

“Most family holidays, we went to the Tour, watched cycling, and I just thought, ‘Yeah. This is what I want to do.' I’ve been cycling from quite a young age; since six or seven. I’m in my second year of U23 now. I’m going to be 20 this year. 

“The team merged in December last year. Hutchinson-Brother UK and DAS-Handsling came together. I initially had joined Hutchinson-Brother UK last August. I liked the way that, from

the outside, it looked like it was run. I knew Simon from DAS-Handsling as well. I can’t think of a better place to be. 

“Having  other girls to ride with is really nice. Getting to know the team-mates before we go into races is really valuable. You know who you’re working for. You know the strengths and weaknesses of each rider. It just gives you a really good base to go into races feeling confident that we can work as a team, and we can execute a plan.

“We went straight down from the training camp. It was a bit of a shock because we weren’t meant. to be doing it. I think we’d done 25 hours the week before on training camp. All of us were a bit like, ‘Oh. We’ve got to race in a week’s time, but, honestly, I think it was great.  We didn’t have to think about it. We just went straight into it. 

“It was a UCI 1.1 race, so it was pretty high level. It’s not an easy way to start the season, but, yeah, I did feel pretty confident in my form, but at the same time, I had no idea how it was

going to go. Luckily, I found myself in the right position at the right time, and, yeah, I just managed to stay in the front group over the hill. 

“It gives you confidence for future races, knowing that if you can perform at a UCI 1.1 race fairly well then you can hopefully do it in other races and replicate that if not be better. I made mistakes in that race so who knows what could have been the outcome if I hadn’t, but I can take nineteenth very solidly and be very happy with that.”

Timothy John

“So wonderful to hear there from Morven, Phil. This is a young rider in a hurry and one with a very bright future ahead. 

“As I say, or, rather, as she said, a top-20 finish at the Clasica de Almeria is already among her early-season highlights. Now that is a professional race. She’s performing at the very

highest level.” 

Phil Jones

“She’s clearly showing maturity beyond her years when it comes to being an out and out racer. Sometimes, when somebody’s got that natural instinct as a racer to be in any race and know where to be and what move to follow and all those sorts of things, then that is just a fantastic skillset. It looks like she has a real talent for the future, so I’m really excited to see where her journey ends up.”

Timothy John 

“So how did your day at the CiCLE Classic pan out, Phil? Did you spend any time with our teams before the race? Did you get to watch them warm up and wish them good luck?”

Phil Jones

“No, not really, Tim, and I’ll give away a bit of a secret here. I did go to the race, and also I was at the race many hours before the race started, but one of the things I try to do as a sponsor is, basically, stay out of the way.

"I think that sometimes it can be awkward when a sponsor turns up. The riders are thinking, what do I need to do? Do I need to entertain them, do I need to be talking to them, and all these sorts of things. 

“Normally, when I turn up, I just let Ian and Andy know that I was there, and Mark. I walked into Melton Mowbray and found myself an independent coffee shop and had a lovely coffee shop. I watched the final of the junior CiCLE Classic come in and then I wandered back and put myself in the pits until about 20 minutes before the race began. 

“I think that gives the riders the space they need to prepare properly. There’s nothing worse than a sponsor trying to come in and take pictures or talk to you when you’re preparing for a

big race. I guess over all the years of sponsorship, I’ve began to really learn that. After a race, absolutely fine, but before the race is not the optimal period to be chatting. 

“It’s funny who you meet, isn’t it, when you’re hanging around? After I’d parked my car, I was just sat in it when I got back from Melton Mowbray with a coffee, and a car pulled up next to me, and it was Alex Dowsett.”

Timothy John 

“Oh, nice.”

Phil Jones 

“Yeah. He was there. I jumped out and had a quick word with him and asked what he was up to. He’d come with one of his cameras to create content for his YouTube channel, and he’d decided to hand out some bottles. He planted himself on the course and was handing out bottles. I thought that was absolutely brilliant. 

“You’ve got a WorldTour professional, a two-time Giro stage winner, ridden for five WorldTour teams, a glittering career, a former world Hour Record holder, and he’s driven up in his

boots to stand at the side of the race and hand out some bottles. I thought, ‘Good on you.’ I was so impressed. 

“He wandered round the pits and chatted to everybody and gave time to everybody. That, for me, is really giving back to the sport, so all credit to Alex Dowsett.”

INTERLUDE

Part Two: 2024 Women's CiCLE Classic Review

Timothy John 

“Let’s get into this CiCLE Classic review. It’s a race billed as Britain’s Belgian Classic, and, my goodness, it lived up to that billing at this eighth edition of the women’s race and tenth edition of the junior men’s race. 

“Previous winners include DSM-Firmenich-PostNL’s Josie Nelson, who was our guest in episode 50, and INEOS Grenadier Josh Tarling has a victory in the junior men’s race on his

palmares.

“This year’s women’s race served as the opening round of the 2024 National Road Series for women and the conditions were some of the muddiest seen in any edition of the CiCLE Classic. 

“The junior men’s race was won by Ahron Dick of Huub-BCC. Second was Milo MacIntosh of the Cycling Academy. Third; Hugo Bednareck of Fensham Howes - MAS Design, another of Giles Pidcock’s rising stars.

“The women’s race was won by Eluned King of LifePlus-Wahoo. Second was Eilidh Shaw of the Alba Development Team, and third was Alice McWilliam of Hess Cycling. And our own

Morven Yeoman was seventh for DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK, as we’ve said.

“Phil, you were right in the heart of it. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve all seen the pictures. What was it like on the road?”

Phil Jones

“What I love, and why it’s such a great privilege to be in a team car is you can see a race through a totally different lens. Pictures are one thing, but when you are clattering round at, sometimes, five miles an hour, and in the next breath, you’re doing 55mph, trying to pass a rider, it’s really exhilarating. 

“But you can also see how everything works. There were a number of things that I observed during the race, which I just thought were very, very interesting. 

“Number one was when Ian came to the pits after he’d been in the manager’s briefing with the race director. My first question to him was what’s our position in the convoy, because, for

me, convoy positioning, given the narrowness of the roads, was going to be crucial, He said, ‘We’ve got position four,’ which is not too bad. We’re forth back in the convoy, effectively. 

“So why is that important? Well, of course, the closer you are to the front, the more likely you are going to be able to service your rider if they have an issue, and, particularly, given the parcours, which was really, really horrible.- rutted roads, potholes, muddy banks, mud build up, puddles.

"It screamed that there were going to be technical issues of one type or another: things bouncing back up into your groupset or stopping you shifting. Punctures. Things hitting your wheel or breaking spokes. There are all sorts of things that can happen, so the closer you are to the front, it’s more likely that you will be able to service your rider if they are competing to be in the top ten. 

“What you realise is that those convoy positions are almost irrelevant until about the last 8km or 9km of the race because very early on, and probably in the first 3km to 5km, riders are already getting dropped, and I said to Ian as we went out, ’This is a hard start,’ because there were quite a few drags. Riders were literally getting dropped on those first few drags. Literally, that was already beginning to split the field. 

“When those riders are dropped, the whole convoy has to sit behind that one dropped rider. The bunch goes riding off, and the whole convoy is behind a single rider. Because of the

narrowness of the lanes and what had happened with the heavy rainfall, it was very, very narrow, and it means that your ability to pass is very, very restricted. Very restricted. 

“Rider safety is so key in a race like the CiCLE Classic. The team managers have to be so careful and very, very measured about when and where they pass. Then you’ve got the race commissaires, the moto commissaires, holding you back until they’re confident there’s a place to pass. 

“The convoy is behind all the action for a lot of the race, and your ability to get up to your riders is quite difficult because once riders start coming backwards; thankfully, they’re coming back in twos and threes and you’re just waiting for a time to pass them. But when you’ve got twelve or fifteen cars, you’re being called forwards two cars at a time, for example, to come into a gap. 

“You can see the team managers get frustrated. In their heads, they’re miles away. They don’t know potentially how far away their group is because there’s no rider and manager radios.

You’re relying on race radio then to give you race reports  and given the conditions, the frequency of those updates might not have been as frequent perhaps as other races I’ve been in.

“For a lot of the race, we weren’t a hundred per cent sure who was where until we got an update from race radio: ‘There’s seven riders in a break, and, oh, hang on, good news here, we’ve got a rider in the break That’s really good.’ 

“That’s the really big insight: if you have a rider who was a mechanical, and we did: Sanna had a mechanical. Of course, everyone flew past us in the race convoy and suddenly we were at the back of the race convoy. The next thing is, how do you work your way back up the convoy? It’s not like a normal road race, where you have two lanes of a tarmacked road. You are firing down a cobbled road, which is muddy and dirty and wet and has got grass either side of it and, somehow, you have to try and work your way back up that convoy. It takes a lot of patience.”

Timothy John

“And cannot take any chances, Phil. Rider safety has got to be paramount.”

Phil Jones

“A hundred percent. I was really observing Ian. Ian is a very experienced convoy driver. What you realise on that race is that space to pass a rider will appear in an instant. You have to have the confidence to know when to go and when not to go, and you need to make an immediate decision about the safety of the rider in front of you and your ability to pass. 

“There were many times in the race when you would look at it and go, ‘You could probably fit a car through there, but Ian wouldn’t, because he knew two of his wheels would be on

mushy grass and two would be on the cobbled parcours which does not mean he is in control of that vehicle. That vehicle could make some sort of sudden movement. 

“So, there are times when that experience says, ‘Definitely not. We’ll just be patient and sit here for the good of that rider.’ There are other times when you’d come off of that horrible, horrible road onto a main road, and that main road might only be for half-a-kilometre, and that is exactly the point when you need to go, when you go, ‘There’s a space.’ 

“You can see the difference between perhaps really experienced drivers and perhaps those building experience. There were times when perhaps a more experienced driver might have shot past a group and a less experienced driver did not, and, as a result, it meant all of the convoy might have been held up. These are the small differences, these are the nuances that you get to see when you are in a race, and I think it’s really, really interesting when you see that. 

“The way these drivers are qualified and trained is really important for rider safety. It really is so important. You’ve only got to look at the number of marshals who are on the course, the

amount of safety measures that Colin had put in: the barriers, the bubble, everything. It’s so well organised.

“Literally, unless somebody was directing you, I would have no idea about the course direction. Literally, we would turn left, go down a lane, turn back, and then we’d be coming back the same lane the other way. It was like, ‘Wow!’ How he designs that course is incredible.”

Timothy John

“Almost a standing joke, isn’t it, among Colin and his volunteers that only a handful of them know the parcours at the start of any edition of the CiCLE Classic. 

“Another area, Phil, in which you’re able to provide a lot of insight is neutral service. Of course, we sponsored neutral service for over a decade, and the chap who used to manage that

on behalf of Brother UK, Tony Barry, is still running things. 

“Did you manage to get a word with Tony? How was the race from a neutral service perspective?”

Phil Jones 

“Yeah, I saw Tony very briefly between the end of the junior and the beginning of the women’s [race]. I wound the window down and said, ‘Tony! How are you getting on? Have you been busy?’ He said, ‘Yeah. I’ve changed about six wheels on course in the junior race.’

“And, actually, a really interesting insights for me, Tim, was the number of bikes with rim brakes in the junior CiCLE Classic. It just goes to show that you don’t need a top of the range,

fully carbon, disc brake bike to race competitively. There were as many rim brake bikes as they were disc brake bikes in the junior CiCLE Classic. 

“That was the discussion that Tony and I would be having all the time was, what is the optimal combination of wheels that you need to carry on the roof? And for an event like that, it’s everything. It’s rim Shimano, rim Campag, rim SRAM; as well as. disc versions of all of the above, which I thought was fascinating and, obviously, creates a massive challenge for neutral service on the day.” 

Timothy John 

“Yeah, it’s good to hear that the youngsters are being held back by budget or anything like that. They’re just getting out there and racing, regardless of machinery, and that, of course, is what it’s all about. 

“Did you get to see many of the DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK riders, many of the Brother UK-OnForm riders, Phil, or, once you’re in the race, is it a constantly shifting picture?”

Phil Jones 

“Honest answer is I think we saw one or two of our riders who were dropped, and we shot past them on our way trying to get back up to the front. Again, it’s the nature of the race that, effectively, it’s so unique. There are no radios, there’s no way to communicate with them. You come down to a lane, and if it’s one of your riders, you see someone at the side of the road, and you go, ‘Oh, it’s one of ours! Quick! What do we do?

“That’s just how it is because the race gets split up so quickly, and it splinters so much. There are riders everywhere. Ian kept making me laugh by saying, ‘It’s carnage! It’s carnage!’ But it’s carnage quickly, It’s not like it rolls out in a procession, and it does 50km, and then it becomes carnage. It’s like carnage after about 5km, It’s unbelievable. It really does split up. You

know that by the way you’re passing riders in little groups of two or three all the time, just getting dropped out and dropped out and dropped out. 

“You’re riding in the car through places like the Somerberg. All the crowds are there, and the bells are going, and it’s absolutely brilliant, but you then to see where the gaps are appearing in the race.”

Timothy John 

“Well, I was going to ask about the atmosphere around the course. That’s at least 50 per cent of this claim to being Britain’s Belgian Classic. It’s not just about the racing. It’s about the atmosphere, about how it inspires people just to come out and just enjoy bike racing. It sounds like you saw plenty of that on the Somerberg and, presumably, in Melton town centre as well.”

Phil Jones 

“Yes, I walked into Melton Mowbray as I mentioned earlier, and, yes, there were plenty of people about to support the race, which I thought was absolutely brilliant and maybe that’s a by-product of it being run for so many years, which is absolutely great. My biggest disappointment was I could not find an open pork pie shop in order to bring back my own Melton Mowbray pork pie."

Timothy John 

“Well, I was going to ask about the atmosphere around the course. That’s at least 50 per cent of this claim to being Britain’s Belgian Classic. It’s not just about the racing. It’s about the atmosphere, about how it inspires people just to come out and just enjoy bike racing. It sounds like you saw plenty of that on the Somerberg and, presumably, in Melton town centre as well.”

Mark Botteley

“The thing is that those off-road sectors, for me, they’re not the defining part of the course, The defining part of the course is just generally the up and down. 

“That five-mile loop around Borough on the Hill, there’s no flat on it. It’s just up and down. The roads were in particularly poor condition this year so there were a few punctures. I didn’t

see anybody crash, but I would be amazed if nobody hadn’t. 

“Basically, the race is still together after about 12 miles, and then, about five miles later, after they’ve gone round that loop, it’s all over the countryside. 

“People focus on these off-road sectors because they’re ridiculously muddy, and everybody’s there with their cameras. You might get somebody who’s dropped, but, generally, wherever you are at the start of the sector, that’s where you are at the end of the sector. The Somerberg is slightly different becuse it’s a bit longer, but it’s that attritional five-mile sector on a really

poor road surface, and it’s just up and down, and, to me, that’s what this race is all about. That’s the hard part of the race. 

“Yes, if you are like Hope, and you’ve got excellent bike riding skills, then you are going to have an advantage, there’s no doubt about that, especially on the Somerberg, but if you’re not at that level that you can keep up there on that five-mile sector, it does’ matter how good your cyclo-cross skills are because you’re going to be out of the race. 

“The first year they did that race, I can remember going to watch it, and there were, basically, 60 riders, all together as they went out to Borough on the Hill: out of Owston, on that five-mile circuit. And five miles later, some people were four or five miles behind. it was completely shredded. So, to me, that five-mile sector, which they do three times throughout the race, I think is by far the hardest part.

“But, yes, the eye-catching thing is, obviously, the sectors and they were particularly muddy, I must admit.”

Timothy John

“So wonderful to hear there from Mark, and a very interesting perspective, Phil, that for all the talk about the gravel sectors and the mud, it’s the tarmac areas of the course that can be the most decisive.” 

Phil Jones 

“Yes, what surprised me is that the course is very rolling when it gets onto the tarmac. You think it’s just going to be pan flat, rolling around the lanes, but, actually, there are some good drags in there which will allow somebody who is a punchy climber to really put some time into people, so it isn’t just about bike handling in the lanes that will determine the outcome of this race. It’s your overall ability as a bike rider, of course it is, plus amazing bike handling skills on the day. 

“The other question I was asking just before we rolled out, was tyre pressures. What’s everyone doing? What tyre widths are you using? What pressures are you using? And, obviously, everyone was going quite low on the tyre pressures, and many are running 28mm or 30mm tyres, so they don’t get caught in any of the gaps between some of the cobbles which are in some of the lanes.”

Timothy John 

“Did any of the riders give an insight into the type of tyres they’re using? Tubeless now, I guess, is the default selection for this race.”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, most people were using tubeless that I could see. All of the riders who I spoke to said, ‘Yeah. We’re all on tubeless.’ For a race like that and because of this issue about getting support, de-risking is probably the best option that you’re going to take on the day.”

Timothy John 

“Well, let’s conclude this review of the Women’s CiCLE Classic by hearing again from Morven Yeoman, the highest-placed finisher from Brother UK’s sponsored teams: not bad for a rider who, as we’ll hear, is looking forward to hillier races.”

Morven Yeoman

“Yeah, it was an interesting day out. Very brutal, not necessarily because the pace was super high all the time but because of the sectors and the mud, your brain is constantly going. You're using so much energy thinking about the race and what’s to come. Being in position all the time takes so much energy out of you. 

“But, yeah, it was a grippy day out, and I managed to make the front bunch. I think it was of about 15 going into the last lap, and then a few dropped down. To be honest, I didn’t have much left for the sprint, but I gave it my all. 

“I kind of knew that it was going to split, just purely because of how hard the sectors were; how muddy they were, how many potholes there were, so I knew I needed to be positioned well all the time in the race because it could have gone at 10km, it could have gone at 80km, but I think it just naturally split. Hess had quite a few riders in the front group, and they

were just drilling it and keeping the pace high, so then I just knew, yeah, I’m in the right place here, and I think it’s going to be difficult for people behind to get back on. 

“I was really happy. It’s my best national series finish ever, to date. I couldn’t be happier, but, obviously, as an athlete, I’m fighting for the win. It would have been cool to be there or to be on the podium, but you can’t do everything all at once. I definitely think I can hold my head high. it’s a good start in the national series on a course that isn’t particularly my kind of course. I prefer hillier terrain, so I think it can only, hopefully, go up from here. 

“East Cleveland is coming up; East Cleveland Classic. And then, yeah, Ryedale and Lancaster are definitely two that I’ll be looking forward to. And I think we’re doing the Tour de Feminin in May, so that would hopefully be a good race for me as well. Yeah, just harder and hillier races are what I like.’

INTERLUDE

Part Three: Meet The Parents

Timothy John

“Now one rider who doesn’t lack bike handling skills is Hope Inglis, whom we mentioned earlier. She’s a Team GB cyclo-cross rider. She’s ridden in rounds of the UCI World Cup, but that’s only part of Hope’s story. She’s a computer science student at Birmingham University. She’s a degree apprentice with Price Waterhouse Cooper. She’s the youngest member, and I think the youngest ever member, of British Cycling’s Road Commission. who once held a face-to-face meeting with British Cycling’s last CEO, Brian Facer, to argue for more resources for women’s cycling, so Hope is a force on and off the bike. Let’s have a listen now to Hope.” 

Hope Inglis

“This year, I started at the University of Birmingham to study Computer Science, so that’s been pretty busy because it’s been colliding with the ‘cross season quite a bit. I’m definitely enjoying it so far. It’s definitely tough balancing the uni with the cycling. 

“Basically, I’m doing a degree apprenticeship with PWC, so I’ll be working for them in the summer and in my third year on a placement. I think cycling definitely helped me get the job because I have a lot on my CV about cycling. It definitely has taught me a lot, especially time management. Before I was balancing school with training, so I definitely think it has

helped me overall. 

“I’ve always taken an interest in campaigning for gender equality in cycling. That started as an under-12 when I noticed that my local league race on the circuit racing wasn’t very equal between the girls and the boys, and the boys had a lot more opportunities than the girls did and the style of racing that they were experiencing was very different to the girls, mostly due to there not being many other girls nearby going to the races. 

“My GoRide club coach at the time suggested that instead of complaining to her, I write to the CEO of BC. I think she was joking, but I definitely didn’t take it as a joke, and so I did, and since then I’ve just carried on. Growing up, I’d always notice. At the National Circuit Series, the girls’ races would often be less long than the boys, or they would get less prize money for the same race, and that always annoyed me, so I would always try and talk to the race organisers about that. 

“Then I realised that that would keep happening, so I talked to a lot of people at British Cycling, and, since I’ve moved into the women’s, I’ve noticed more and more problems and tried

to think of ways that they can be changed. Joining the Road Commission has been part of that because I really want to bring the rider voice to the table and help make those decisions. 

“I think a lot of things are moving in the right direction, but it’s by no means easy, and there’s still a long way to go. Other things, I think, are moving in the wrong direction. For example, the junior national series that used to just be for juniors is now for under-23s as well, which I think is a shame and indicative of the fact that we still do need to make sure that we’re fighting to improve the racing scene in the UK for women, and I think until it’s at least equal to the men in the number we’ve got then we’ve still got more to go and more riders we can encourage to race and ride.”

Timothy John

“So wonderful to hear there from Hope Inglis, Phil, as we say, not just a rider but a member of British Cycling’s Road Commission. She’s going great guns at university. She’s a pretty keen example, I would have thought, of everything Brother UK is trying to achieve with its sponsorship of grassroots cycle sport.”

Phil Jones

“A hundred percent. It’s part of the reason we do this. We’ve talked before: it’s not just about the logo on jerseys, it’s about creating platforms for people’s potential. 

“Many of the people who race domestically, and we know this from the work we did with the Elite Task Force, addressing some of the issues in the road racing scene, was that in the survey that we did, we know that about half the riders who ride domestically are not riding to become professionals. They’re riding because it’s their hobby, I guess. It’s what they

like to do outside of work in their spare time. 

“I guess for somebody like Hope, who you just described there, she’s a career professional. Clearly, very intelligent: a computer science student. She’s in PWC, so she has what looks like a glittering professional services career ahead of her, and, at the same time, she wants to competitively race, and is also looking to make sure that the environment that not only she but others race within is the best it can be. 

“I think that’s great, and that’s the sort of individual that we hope ends up in some of the teams that we sponsor because it just gives them a platform to do that sort of stuff, and to race competitively, and to have the right kit and bike and contribution towards race fees and all those sorts of things. That’s what financial sponsorships help towards. 

“A hundred percent: I’m really encouraged by what Hope is doing.”

Timothy John

“Yeah, absolutely, the kind of young person that any major business would be looking to take on, I’d imagine; somebody with that skill set. 

“We talk a lot, don’t we, when we’re discussing the Rayner Foundation, that they’re not trying to produce professional cyclists so much as very grounded, very resilient, very resourceful

young people, and I guess Brother UK is doing something similar with its team sponsorships.”

Phil Jones

“As an employer, when sometimes we have people coming for interviews, and we look at their CVs and career history, we’re also interested in who they are outside of work. What is their identity outside of their chosen professional subject matter? And when somebody competes in sport at this sort of level, you already know that they have got discipline, a work ethic, that they are more often than not are a team player. They are used to rules and regulations, of which, in corporate life, we have an awful lot, so they tend to fit very, very well into a corporate environment,

“So, back to your point, yes, when we have individuals like Hope in any company, anywhere where somebody is competing at a very, very high level in their spare time, it generally brings a very, very strong candidate to your door.”

Timothy John

“Yeah, that’s an extremely good point, and to bring the conversation full circle, let’s hear now from Hope’s mum, Claire Inglis.

“Now Claire has two daughters who ride for Team Brother UK–OnForm. The other is Hope’s elder sister Ellen, who is a student at Loughborough University, and Claire believes that cycling has played a significant role in her daughters’ achievements off the bike. Let’s have a listen now to Claire.”

Claire Inglis

“I think the most important thing is to make sure they’re having fun, and they feel able to go off and enjoy it, taking all the hassles away, so making sure kit is ready and cleaned and waiting for them. Making sure that food and drink is there when they need it, and it’s what they want to eat, and getting them to the start line happy. Ready and happy: that’s all we ask for. 

“We’ve just had to learn as we go along, all the way. As the girls have become more passionate about the sport, we’ve had to work it out and ask for advice and get help, and, luckily, cycling people are really friendly, and they do help you. People are usually generous with their time and their experience, and we’ve taken advantage of that a lot in getting advice and

help.

“We hadn’t got any idea about cyclo-cross until Hope’s GoRide coach suggested she might like it. We started off going along to a couple of training sessions, then she tried a local race and one thing and another, and it’s the help and the welcome from that community that has really kept us going. We’ve made friends along the way. You see the same people at races, week in, week out. It’s a community, and it’s fun to be part of it.

“A little bit less now Hope’s at university. We don’t take her to the local league races, but it used to be every weekend through the winter for one thing or another, and then, well, yeah, pretty much every weekend, I think is what I’m trying to say. 

“I think sport has brought them an awful lot of opportunities that at the beginning I would not have anticipated. I think it’s made them more confident people, more resilient. I think they have had better success at school because they have had to manage their time better. They’re much more disciplined young people. They’re so passionate and focussed that they’re

able to get the job done when they need to so they can get on with their training and their cycling. 

“I think it’s brought them all sorts of opportunities to meet different people, to travel to different places. We’ve been all round the country, and I don’t imagine we would have done that without cycling, and now we’re starting to venture that bit further afield as well, and we wouldn’t have done those things, and they wouldn’t have done those things without sport. 

“It does add up. The kit and the gear, that’s not cheap. Race weekends: there’s a lot of extra bits and bobs. Yeah, it adds up. I don’t want to think about how much it adds up to. The

team support, race entry being paid, things like that, it really helps. Every little bit helps. 

“Hope’s had some help - an award from the Pedal Club - in the last year. People have helped her with bits and bobs; more than bits and bobs, maybe. Someone from the Pedal Club gave her a frame, and she bought some other bits for the bike, and basically taught her to build a bike in the summer. Again, that’s a marvellous experience. She finished her exams and then went to meet someone and built and bike for herself to race on, and she raced on it in the circuit series. 

“That goes back to the opportunities and the learning and the experiences that they’ve had and also people’s generosity to help in their time and resources. It helps. It makes a difference. It keeps us on the road. 

“I used to look at people going to races. I mean, they started when they were really young. Hope started circuit racing at under eights. I used to look at the teenagers and think that they were all crazy, with all the gear and the warming up on the rollers, but we’re them and more now, and I never imagined my life would change like that and go in that direction, but it’s

been an absolute joy to go through that. 

“So enjoy it, I suppose, is the most important thing because it is really good fun. Its sometimes little bit mad and scary, but it’s fun overall. Just go with the flow, really, and see where it takes you.”

Timothy John

“Great to hear there from Claire Inglis, Phil. She readily admits that she and her husband Malcom didn’t know a lot about cycling until their daughters took it up, but they’ve found it a very supportive and very generous community.”

Phil Jones 

“Yes, it was interesting, Tim, because while I was sat in the car park just observing what was happening in the pits. I was there early, maybe two or three hours before the race, and, as a result, you began to see an empty car park begin to fill. I thought then how good cycling was for the wider economy. I looked at the number of VW Transporter vans that were turning up. Loads of vans. Loads of cars with bike racks, and everybody was wandering around in long coats. I thought: ‘This is just great. This shows you what this sport does for the wider economy.’

“But then I began to see people greet each other. A car would turn up and somebody would say ‘hello’ and people would connect and have a hug and ‘how are you?’ You could see the community, a cycling community, built of people like Claire and her husband and other parents who are really genuinely supporting the sport. They are part of the fabric of the entire

sport.

“We talked a lot in the Task Force about the importance of volunteers, the importance of the commissaires, the importance of the organisers, but as important are these parents and partners who are supporting their children or siblings or boyfriends or girlfriends to race. They’re all-important because it costs money. It costs money to get to places: petrol, and sometimes there’s overnight stays and all these sorts of things. It’s not easy, and you do need a support structure around you in order that you can race, and without that support structure, I think it’s really difficult.” 

Timothy John

“Yeah, absolutely. Mark Botteley, Phil, gave a very clear indication to me about the value to Brother UK- Team OnForm of parental support. Let’s have a very quick listen now to Mark.” 

Mark Botteley

“They’re just so supportive all the time. I think they’re so grateful that they see our team as the right place for their children to be in: a completely supportive network. 

“You’ve got to bear in mind that they’ve come from club teams, youth club teams, and they’re into this scary world of racing with senior women, and not only are they bigger people, but they are very, very strong, They’ve been going to these races where they’re in the gazebo with all these other youths, and it’s like racing with mates; then, all of a sudden, it gets a bit

more serious, but when you’ve got a team like ours which is just so supportive…

“You’ve got Tofauti, and you’ve got Liv, and you’ve got Shibden, but they are basically junior teams, where we have under-23s and seniors. 

“Maddie Gammons is a classic example of somebody who has joined the team this year. She didn’t race at the weekend due to personal reasons, and that’s absolutely fine, but she was

more than happy to come along on the Saturday and do the recce with the girls and pass that wisdom onto the girls. 

“This is what’s so great about the team, because the juniors are going to learn from the older, more experienced riders. I don’t think any of the seniors or under-23s are put out by having juniors in there because they’re happy to pass things on, and, actually, having the juniors there racing, they’re probably looking over their shoulders thinking, ‘Look at these juniors coming up. They are really seriously good.’ It keeps everybody on their toes. 

“I just think it’s great for the juniors, because they’ve got these people who have done these races, like Hope, for example. She can pass on a bit of wisdom. 

“One of the things I said to the riders in the briefing was, ‘You have to be on it the whole time.’ I said: ‘The sooner you’re near the front of the race, the better.’ And they literally followed Hope onto the start line, and we had about four riders on the front row because that’s what Hope does, and Hope just took them with her. It’s that kind of willingness to learn and be all

in it together. 

“it is a team effort. It really is. I think what’s great about our team.- I can talk about our team, but I would say most teams are exactly the same - all the parents, they’re not just looking out for their girls. They’re looking out for everybody. That’s what’s so great about the team.”

Timothy John

“So, a really valuable insight there from Mark, Phil, about this community aspect: that no one there is focussed on their own riders. They’re interested in making sure that everybody has a good day.”

Phil Jones

“It was very interesting to me when I was in the car with Ian that he could name almost every rider on the road. As we were going round, he would know almost every rider on the road. If a rider looked like they were having any difficulty or might need a technical, he was prepared to help. I thought that was very admirable and really, really good because that signals, ‘We don’t want to see any rider suffer as a result of perhaps not having a support car, for example, like ourselves, or if their car is miles back.’ 

“I think if you said to Ian, that rider was genuinely in the race and needed a wheel, and their car was miles back, would he have given a wheel, I think he would. I don’t think he would drive past a rider and leave them there if he felt they could be competitive. 

“I felt that, genuinely, that was a really big difference perhaps between sport at this national level and perhaps sport at WorldTour might be. At WorldTour, you’d just say, ‘Leave them,’

but at this level, I think every manager knows that probably at some point in somebody’s future, that rider might be on your team. 

“People remember those things, don’t they? People remember sometimes the small things. We say at our place: ‘The small things are the big things. The small moments end up being the big moments, so pay attention to those.’

“While, of course, racing is about competitiveness, of course it is, it’s also about, I think, participation and community, and you get a great sense of that if you go to the pits at any of these races.” 

INTERLUDE

Part Four: Rod Ellingworth and the Tours of Britain

Timothy John

“Someone else who will perhaps have to rely on the support of an entire cycling community is Rod Ellingworth who, as we mentioned at the top of the episode, has been appointed Race Director for the Tours of Britain.

“Now whether this is a golden opportunity or a poisoned chalice, only time will tell, but the facts are that the four-stage Tour of Britain Women begins on June 6, just over 10 weeks’ time,

and the eight-stage Tour of Britain starts on September 1, so about five months’ time. These races are coming up fast. 

“Rod, as we mentioned earlier, has enjoyed a glittering career as a coach and team manager, but these will be his first engagements as a race director, and I discussed the challenges Phil with Peter Harrison, who has been organising bike races for nearly half-a-century.

"He's the race director of the Beaumont Trophy, of the Curlew Cup. He’s the man behind the Cyclone Festival of Cycling, a multi-day event with sportives for amateurs, as well as professional races. He’s organised national championships. You name it, he’s done it. Let’s have a listen to Peter.”

Peter Harrison

“I’ve been putting on races - I’ve probably put on over 400 over a 48-year period - and I’m still learning. It is a very complex situation and a very complex thing to do.

“Initially, I thought, ‘Yeah, a good appointment.’ Having said that, I don’t think Rod - and I’ve known Rod a long period of time - I don’t think he’s ever put on any event; certainly any

major event. 

“I think he’s definitely got a big challenge ahead of him, which I’m sure he’s up to, with the job that he’s had previously with teams, but I do think he’s got a challenge. 

“I’m sure British Cycling has put an experienced team behind him. I know that Jono, Jonathan Day, and the likes of Andy Hawes are in there already, but there are definite challenges for him. 

“I mean looking at the timescale, particularly for the Women’s Tour. We’re talking about local elections in May; not talking about, they are going to be in May, and whether councils change….We’re looking at the opinion polls at the moment, and we know that some councils that have been Conservative held are going to fall by the wayside. Whether new councils

will then decide a change in direction with regards budgets etc, particularly with cutbacks in social services and everything else. 

“I’m sure discussions have been going on, but we are talking about a relatively, well, not relatively, a very short timescale to pull something like this off to get those councils and to get those venues in place. 

“Accommodation is one of those things that you’ve got to look at. Let’s take the Women’s Tour to begin with. Maybe 100 riders or thereabouts, With support staff and everyone else, you’re looking at certainly well over 200 rooms per night. 

“If we look at things such as, and I know it can be turned around fairly quickly, but signage, getting the infrastructure: you’re talking about everything from gantries to communications. 

“Getting the police involved. I’ve no doubt that Duncan Street will be using the Central Escort Group, but police normally need to be booked up months and months in advance because of their shifts and their rotas etc. I would estimate that even at the Women’s Tour, a four-day tour, you’re going to be looking at least 24 police motorbikes, apart from Accredited Marshalls and, of course, all the volunteers. 

“We’re now talking about a General Election, from what they’re talking about, in October, so that’s just after what would be the men’s tour. Councils could well be focussing on other things at the time. It is a big ask, to be quite frank. 

“I wouldn’t like to be in Rod’s shoes, in some ways. Of course, I’d love the challenge. I always love a challenge, but I wouldn’t want, with such a short period of time, to be in his shoes,

unless he’s got that back up that we don’t know behind him.”

Timothy John

“So, there was Peter Harrison, Phil, and who knows more about organising bike races than he does? He outlined a whole series of challenges, and the one that really stuck out for me was local elections. 

“Now councils play a key role in elections, don’t they, and organising a public ballot will be just one of the things that they have to think about in May, only a few weeks before the

Women’s Tour of Britain.”

Phil Jones

“Yes, it’s one of those things that most people don’t think about. You just think, ‘Oh, we want to get the Women’s Tour of Britain on, we want the Tour of Britain on. Surely it should just be easy, shouldn’t it? You just go and run the race.’ And it’s like, ‘There are so many financial, operational and political hurdles to overcome.’

“One of the key stakeholders in all of this are councils, because of road closures, because of all the various permissions that you need to roll a race across county after county after

county.

“This is where having a team around you is going to matter a lot. For example, we’ve got Andy Hawes there. Who doesn’t know about overcoming those issues? Andy Hawes is the right man for the job. He was the existing Route Director for the Tour of Britain. He’s very, very accomplished in doing those things and getting those things over the line. 

“However, timing is everything, and there’s nothing that councils are more interested in than getting re-elected. You are so far down the priority list when it comes to anything. They go through a period called purdah, as well, where they can’t do stuff or talk about things, and, of course, you don’t even know whether the leaders of the council are going to be the same leaders in the future, and you could have a change of leadership which might mean somebody less supportive of the agenda for walking and cycling and all this stuff, so it’s really

crucial. 

“I think what we might well see here is that there will be favoured councils and relationships which might be safe seats that have been known to have hosted stages in the past, which are going to be likely bankers for routes in the future.

“What might this mean? It might mean, stages are all over the place. It might mean that. It might mean that the transfers are massive. It might mean that, because they are going to have to go to places where they know they’re going to get support. 

“Or it could mean that the Tour of Britain could be very tight i.e. focussed in just one area of the country where they’ve got a number of clustered councils where they know they can get agreement. Perhaps a good example could be the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is the overarching authority for ten local councils. So, if you knock on their door, you’ve got one voice to speak to for ten councils, which is going to be a lot easier than speaking to all the other councils. I’m not saying that’s the answer, by the way, I’m just trying to give this as

an example. 

“My view would be is for us as the racing fans to just probably give BC the benefit of the doubt for 2024. We just need to give them some breathing space, and they’ll put on whatever they can put on, given the timescales that they have. And it might not be what we’ve been used to. It might not be, and I think we’ve just got to accept that. 

“I think we’ve got a little bit more time for the Tour of Britain, but for the Women’s Tour, that is under a huge amount of pressure; so much to organise. 

“I would say, don’t be surprised if we see a repeat of stages that have already been run in the past, literally from kilometre to kilometre, from Point A to Point B. That they just go back to what’s been done in the past, and Andy doesn’t drive all over the country, but says, ‘There to there. There’s the route. We’ve done all the planning. All we’ve got to do is pull out all the detail from when we last did it, have a word with the council, and if they’re prepared to do it, it’s an easy win.’ You’re not having to build it from the ground up. 

“My own view would be probably a repeat of past stages from previous editions, and it might be either everywhere or highly concentrated in one part of the country, even though it might

be called the Tour of Britain, and we’re just going to have to put up with that for 2024.”

INTERLUDE

Part Five: Proper Northern Road Race Series

Timothy John 

“Let’s move on now to races that are definitely going ahead in a form that we know and love and those are the races of the Proper Northern Road Race Series, organised by Cold Dark North.

“This is a three-race series in the North West. It begins this Sunday, March 31, with the Capernwray Road Race, followed by the Aughton Road Race on April 21, and concluding with

the Oakenclough Road Race on May 26. 

“Previous round winners include Jack Rootkin-Gray, now a neo-pro with EF Education-EasyPost, who won Aughton in 2022, and Cat Ferguson, who was the young British star last season and will join Movistar Team in August, she won both Capernwray and Aughton in 2023. 

“Brother UK will serve this year’s Proper Northern Road Race Series as prize fund sponsor, and when I spoke to Cold Dark North co-founder Toby Cummins, he said that could make all the difference in attracting entrants to the series.” 

Toby Cummins

“I think it’s hugely important. Because we’re not a business that’s trying to make financial returns on the races that we run and the events that we put on, the sponsors are really important because they help us to make the events and the races appealing to the most important people involved, who are the racers. 

“Aside from Brother, we also have financial sponsorship from Wheelbase, and then we have prize sponsors: a brewery called Fell Brewery who are based in the North West, and a local coffee company called Carringtons. Those guys are brilliant because they give us physical assets, they give us product to be able to give to the racers. 

“I couldn’t tell you: you’d have to ask an elite racer whether or not the difference between first place being several hundred pounds and a thousand pounds is realistically going to sway

whether or not the calendar takes them to Capernwray or Belgium. I don’t know the answer to that question. 

“But I do know that if we didn’t have any prize money, we would lose quite a lot of riders, and I certainly know that if we didn’t have some prize money and some really cool prizes that we can give out….We still give a combativity prize, even though these are one-day races, we still have a king of the mountains and queen of the mountains category, and the prizes we get from Carrington and from Fell and then the financial prizes we get from other sponsors make a huge difference, I think. 

“It’s really nice to be able to send people away with a nice envelope with some cash in it, but also some other bits and bobs which make them feel like they’ve had a day out. It sounds horribly patronising. I don’t mean it to sound like that, but I think it does make a difference.

“And actually, sorry Tim, the other thing is that because we’ve brought the three races that we’re running under one umbrella, we can do a team prize, and we can do a series prize, and

so the scope of prizes that we’re able to give is massively enhanced by having cash sponsors and prize sponsors.

“We can make a team prize really worth winning. Our entries for Capernwray close in 24 hours’ time, so I’m at the stage where I’m chasing as many director sportifs as I can to say, ‘You’ve only got two riders in. Why not put a third rider in because there’s a team prize?’ That conversation is a lot easier when you’ve got prizes that are worth winning.”

Timothy John 

“So, there was Toby Cummins of Cold Dark North, an organisation with an already well-established reputation for putting on high-quality races, and Tobes, I should say, was very keen to make the point that it’s Deb who leads on Cold Dark North’s racing activities. 

“This Proper Northern Road Race Series, Phil: it really has gained a cherished status in a comparatively short period of time. You’re up in the North West. What’s its reputation up there? How valuable, how important is it to the health of domestic road racing in the North West?”

Phil Jones

“Yeah, it’s really key, and anybody who has met either Toby or Debs, you just know they’re really lovely, honest people that love riding their bikes. They just said, ‘We need some races? Ok, we’ll organise some races,’ and off they went, and here we are now with a three-race series, with prize money and an awful lot of fun. 

“They really, really do think about a lot of the small details, and that’s why I put a little bit of money in, because it’s just run really, really well. They’re passionate. They’re doing it for all the right reasons and what they want to do is have a really, really good mini series that people can get excited about and put some prize money on the table. 

“A little bit of prize money changes the game a bit, doesn’t it? It’s like, ‘Oh! Prize money!’ It makes it a little bit more competitive when people know there’s a little bit of money on the

table, so all credit to them both. I think it’s a terrific series which is why we’re supporting it. 

“Again, just a public health warning: if you ever get invited to ride a bike with Deborah John, don’t go. She is a machine. Never, ever try and keep up with her on a climb, because you will be dropped.”

Timothy John 

“You have been warned, listeners: if you receive an invitation to hit the road with Deb then turn it down, unless you are a formidable climber. 

“Just while we’re talking about, Deb, Phil, she raised a couple of really important issues, and I wondered if they had come onto your radar while you were working with British Cycling’s

Elite Road Racing Task Force. 

“The first is a change to payment of race entry fees. It stems from regulatory changes that British Cycling, like many organisations, has had to adopt, but which has changed the point at which money is taken from the bank accounts of riders. 

“Let’s get more detail from Deb.” 

Deborah John

“Money is taken from the riders’ accounts at the point of entry, not at the point of acceptance, which is how it used to be. People could enter the race, early, and money would only go out of their account if they were accepted, otherwise no money was taken, and it’s changed to now: money goes out of the account when they enter, and it’s only refunded if they’re not accepted. 

“That’s had a bit of a knock-on effect to entries, as you could understand at this time when money is quite tight. It’s difficult for people to enter a lot of events or even three or four and

the money be taken out of your account before you’re even accepted into that. 

“Apparently, it’s because there’s some regulatory necessity for it. I don’t know. I don't know about those kinds of things, but I do think it has had a knock-on effect, and it hasn’t been particularly well communicated to organisers. 

“People do ask about money: ‘Can I have a refund?’ And I’ve always said: ‘Oh, it’s not taken out until this time.’ so I would at least like to be able to tell people what’s happening. That was quite a big one, and one that I think will have a knock-on effect, not necessarily for big teams - National As, because the money doesn’t necessarily come out of their account - but definitely for National Bs and down it will.”

Timothy John

“So good to hear from Deb there, Phil, on a really important issue, and not just for race organisers. Riders, particularly privateers, who don’t enjoy the support of a team and are responsible for their own entries, can face a significant dent in their monthly finances if they’re suddenly having to pay for multiple race entries at one go. 

“Now, British Cycling tell us this is the result of what is effectively, a change to banking regulations, something called the Strong Customer Authentication protocol, which was

introduced in September 2022, and BC briefed all race licence holders at the time it was introduced.” 

Phil Jones

“Yes, it was. It was raised a number of times, actually, not only by race organisers, but by riders, too. What you’re looking at here is this difficulty: 

“Race organisers need race entries. They need people to be declaring interest, quite a long way out before they start organising a race. No one wants to be in a position where they’re a

week out, and they haven’t got enough entries to run the race. 

“What they were saying is not everybody has got loads of spare cash. A lot of people who are racing at the weekends are living from week to week and working out whether they can race next weekend or not. If suddenly, you want to plan your schedule, and you’ve got eight, nine, ten races to enter, it’s a lot of money. You could be looking at £300 or £400. 

“We did discuss this, and it’s certainly been put down as a recommendation: ‘You’ve got to go away and look at that,' because I think it can be an issue, and it might be stopping people entering when they might have the intention but they just can’t afford to enter it a little bit further out, which then means the organiser’s not getting the heads-up that they’re intending to come, and all the walls start pressurising in, don't they? The organisers panics and says, ‘Well, hang on. I haven’t got enough entries,’ and everyone says, ‘I’m coming! I’m coming!’ We

need somehow to work that out better, I think” 

Timothy John 

“Now, the other big issue Deb raised, Phil, is the challenge of date setting. Like most things in bike racing, the date on which a race is held has a whole host of interdependencies, from booking village halls as race HQs to booking trained medics. Let's hear again now from Deb."

Deborah John 

“I just wanted to make a plea. Date setting meetings. It’s virtually impossible. We have such a blah, blah, blah system. It would be so great if the National As, everybody, could choose their dates by November - a proper date and a standby date - so we had some kind of paper to work off as National As, National Bs, etc, etc, because at the moment the information just comes in such a bitty way. 

“I’ve had to change my dates three times this year because other dates have come in for races in the National A series etc. that have just required them to change, and these are under-23s and various things, so date setting is really something that needs to be gotten right.”

Timothy John 

“So, another very interesting point from Deb, this time about the system for getting dates on the calendar. 

“I think from Deb’s perspective, Phil, as an organiser of National B races, she’s hanging on the National As. Once they’ve got their preferred dates, that’s when she gets her chance to consolidate dates for her National B events. Again, was that something that was discussed by the Task Force?”

Phil Jones 

“It was. The planning of the entire season was one of the big discussion points that kept coming up time and time again, but the sooner you set out the National A season, the sooner everyone can begin to plan around that. The teams can begin to plan. Conti teams need to look at international race programmes. You need, to some degree, plan the A series around what’s happening on the Continent, wherever you can.

"Of course, it’s a very difficult job to do, Tim. It’s almost impossible at times. A course opens up only on a particular date because of road closures, whatever it might be, so you have no option but to run the National A race then, and it might conflict with a Conti team wanting to travel abroad to a UCI race, for example, so you’ve got to try and work that out.

“And then you’ve got all the National B organisers sitting beneath that, going, ‘Ok, well we want to sort out our races, too.’ It’s like a big Jenga puzzle that needs to somehow get set. It’s

not easy. 

“One of the things that we’ve come back to time and time and time again on this podcast is we’re trying to plan in a period when everything is uncertain. The economy is uncertain. We’ve got the general election, which makes everything uncertain for the councils. We’ve got the council elections, as we’ve talked about. We’ve got the economy not growing. We’ve got business start-ups fading. There’s a lot going on, which makes it incredibly difficult to predict what’s going to happen. 

“And all of these things have trickle down effects to things like race planning. You’re relying, as we talked about for the Women’s Tour of Britain and the Tour of Britain, certain councils giving you the heads up, many, many months out, that they’re in, but those same councils are facing that same uncertainty. They don’t know whether they’re even going to be in seat

any more, and then they don’t know what the funding envelope is going to be from the new government, if there is one. 

“All of these factors make planning very difficult, and I really understand Deb’s point. I really do. I really feel for her and all those organisers sitting and waiting, but it’s unfortunately the complicated nature of the entire process which is causing this effect for organisers in the National Bs.”

Timothy John 

“Almost a perfect storm at the moment, isn’t it, Phil? We’ve got a depressed economy, elections looming, both locally and nationally. It’s a very difficult time for anyone to plan effectively, let alone for bike race organisers, but if you had to put your money on anybody, it would be Deb and Tobes, who do a wonderful job with Cold Dark North. 

“And they’re not alone. We’ve got a couple of cracking races coming up. Seb Ottley, who dived in earlier this year to save the Perfs Pedal Race, renamed it the Portsdown Classic - you might remember Ed Clancy raced there earlier this year - well, Seb’s Fat Creations Road Race takes place in Goodwood this Saturday, March 30, with races for men and women, and

the women’s race will serve as the opening round of this year’s British Women’s Team Cup. 

“The National Road Series resumes, or starts, depending on whether you’re competing in the women’s or the Open class, on Sunday April 14 with the return of the East Cleveland Classic. 

“Spring is finally with us, Phil, winter is dying away, and the races are coming thick and fast. Thank-you very much again for joining me today and thank-you to everybody out there for listening.”

MUSIC

OUTRO

Phil Jones

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

Latest episodes

  • 30 Mar 2024

    Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 53

    The 2024 Women’s CiCLE Classic, Rod Ellingworth’s appointment as Race Director of the Tours of Britain and Cold Dark North’s Proper Northern Road Race Series are just some of the topics covered in this new episode, presented by co-hosts Timothy John and Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK.

  • 08 Mar 2024

    Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 52

    As a member of British Cycling’s Elite Road Racing Task Force, race organiser Chris Lawrence was able to provide valuable insights on the operational realities of bike racing to panellists including Phil Jones, Brother UK’s Managing Director. Enjoy this extended interview with Chris, whose organisational palmares includes National Circuit Series events, the Newark Town Centre Races and the Dudley Grand Prix.

  • 27 Feb 2024

    Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 51

    Co-hosts Timothy John and Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, are joined by special guest Ed Clancy OBE, a triple Olympic champion, to discuss the recommendations of the Elite Road Racing Task Force and British Cycling’s new vision for major cycling events, including the tours of Britain for men and women.