1. Home Brother
  2. Cycling
  3. Brother Cycling Podcast
  4. 2024
  5. Episode 51: “Task Force Reflections”

Brother UK Cycling Podcast – Episode 51

Episode Description

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. 
The Brother UK Cycling Podcast

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

Episode 51: Task Force Reflections 

Episode contents

  • 00.02 - Introduction
  • 00.37 - Hello And Welcome
  • 13.00 - Part One: Inside the Task Force
  • 20.00 - Part Two: A Unique Mix
  • 29.30 - Part Three: In Scope
  • 36.55 - Part Four: Just One Word 
  • 47.32 - Part Five: Presentational Matters
  • 59.04 - Part Six: Stage Coaches
  • 64.15 - Part Seven: On Tours 
  • 76.15 - Part Eight: Outro



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 new edition of the Brother UK Cycling Podcast: our fifty-first, no less, and what better way to break the half-century than with an episode that finds us back at full-strength, on home ground and in the company of cycling royalty? 

“Joining me today is my co-host Phil Jones, the Managing Director of Brother UK, and triple Olympic champion Ed Clancy OBE, a man with three gold medals and six rainbow jerseys in

the trophy cabinet, but whose journey through cycling seems only to be gaining momentum. 

“Since last October, Phil and Ed have worked closely as members of the Elite Road Racing Task Force, which Ed chaired and which last month published 16 recommendations based on 40 action points. 

“And if that wasn’t enough, Brother UK has become the co-title sponsor of DAS-Hutchinson-Brother UK, a British-registered, UCI Continental women’s team with 19 riders, and will also serve as the prize fund sponsor of Cold Dark North’s cherished Proper Northern Road Race Series. 

“Who said the off-season was quiet? Phil, Ed, thanks very much indeed for joining me today. “

Ed Clancy

“Thanks, Tim. Thanks for having me.”

Timothy John 

“Well, our pleasure and privilege to have you with us, Ed. 

“I mentioned there that you’re on this new pathway through cycling. You’ve done the medal-winning bit. You’re now the South Yorkshire Active Travel Commissioner. You're the Elite Road Racing Task Force Chairman. You’re an ambassador for CAMS, the Cycling Accident Management Service.  

“Are there any more? Are there any I’ve missed there?”

Ed Clancy

“I think that’s about it. I still work with British Cycling on their Research and Innovation team, and I do a little bit with the commercial team as well. I do some consultancy work with British Triathlon, a bit of public speaking, and I think that’s it.

“A big jack of all trades these days, Tim.”

Timothy John 

“Does it feel like you’re busier than ever?”

Ed Clancy 

“Oh, absolutely, yeah. I look back quite fondly on how little I did other than ride a bike, back in the glory days! Of course, it’s not easy being a pro cyclist. It’s hard and every day you’re trying to overcome adversity in one way or another, but it is simple. It’s very one-dimensional, when you get to the real world. 

“Yeah, I am busier than ever, but every athlete struggles, I think it’s fair to say, in retirement, and that transition, you see it in military life, it’s well-publicised with Olympians and ex-footballers and whatever, and it was the same with me. It was a difficult transition, but I really feel like I’m getting there now. 

“I’m starting to understand more about what I enjoy, what I don’t enjoy and, of course, it’s always good to have a little help from your friends, Phil Jones included, so, yeah, it’s been


Timothy John

“Excellent. Phil, I mentioned at the top there, we’re back at full strength. It’s been few episodes now since both you and I were behind the mic. Great to have you back. 

“A couple of new sponsorships: we’re on board with a UCI Continental women’s team, and we’re a prize-fund sponsor for Cold Dark North’s Proper Northern Road Race Series.”

Phil Jones

“Yes, there’s obviously been a lot going on over the winter. I think the merger of the two teams into the new team that we’ve sponsored, in terms of it being run by Simon and Ian, that was one of the big things that happened over the winter in the sport, in women’s cycling particularly. We have quite a lot of UCI teams now in the UK - women’s team, I mean; far more than on the men’s side of the sport. 

“When the guys came to me, they just said, ‘Look. We’re initially thinking about a merger because we think it’s going to make us stronger. We’d be a far more formidable team, in terms

of gathering together our resources.' 

“When you look at it - I had a long chat with Ian about it, before the announcement was formally made. We were on the phone for probably nearly an hour while I was down in London, talking it through. 

“The reality is that Ian was running that team on his own. You’ve got Simon on the other side of it, successfully running his team, but if you look at it, it takes a lot to run a team. It does. It takes a huge amount to run a team, particularly a UCI team. 

“Ian wanted to run a UCI team, so combining resources actually gives that new team a stronger line-up of riders, but also a way, way greater amount of back office resources,

effectively, between the two teams. 

“Now Ian can focus much more on DS-ing, the thing that he loves the best. Simon can focus on DS-ing, and, of course, in the background you’ve got Andy doing all of the paperwork and the commercials and all those sorts of things.

“Actually, in my opinion, it’s a much better resourced team now and will probably do some amazing things in 2024.

“We’re also pleased to renew with Mark’s team, so that will effectively be, I don’t know, three or four years of continuous sponsorship there, which is great. 

“And, yeah, I was contacted by Cold Dark North recently to say, look, can you help out. Toby and Debbie are doing great things up there. We need to encourage newer, younger race organisers, a point we’re going to get onto I’m sure, Ed. 

“It just sort of struck me that it wasn’t a great deal of money. What it does do is secure that three-race series and put some money on the table for the riders to incentivise people to participate in the series.”

Timothy John 

“Yeah, both sponsorships make an awful lot of sense. As you say, the UCI Continental women’s team market is becoming surprisingly crowded, and for Ian and Simon to join forces, that’s the ideal solution. 

“They’ve been busy in the transfer market. They’ve signed-up two-time Irish road race champion Alice Sharpe, Lincoln Grand Prix winner Robyn Clay, European U23 team pursuit and Madison champion Sophie Lewis; Sophie was on DAS-Handsling last year, and she’ll be riding in Brother colours this year, so it makes an awful lot of sense from the sporting side. 

“It’s hard to think a more cherished series than the Proper Northern Road Race Series, so chapeau for getting on board with that. 

“I think team management, Ed, is the only thing you haven’t done so far. Is that on the horizon?”

Ed Clancy 

“Well, funny you say that. I’m gong out to a cycling resort in Girona with a company called Palau Cycling, which I’m doing a bit of work with. I’m taking Giles Pidcock’s Fensham-Howes junior team out there for a week. 

“Giles is the boss. I’m definitely not going to be running and managing the team, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and sitting in the car and shouting, ‘Move up!’ out the

window, perhaps.”

Timothy John 

“Well that is some team, Ed. The amount of young riders who have gone up to WorldTour teams or WorldTour development teams is unbelievable. I spent a little bit of time with DSM in January, they’ve got a young lad called Jacob Bush, who, last year, was one of Giles’ lads. 

“I think you took another of them to the Portsdown Classic, didn’t you? Alex Beldon, who’s now on Trinity.”

Ed Clancy

“That’s right, yeah. I think Al’s been with Fensham Howes and Giles Pidcock for the last two years. He’s now moved up to Trinity, which is, I guess, the next logical step for those lads, unless they go straight to an U23 WorldTour development team. 

“It’s been a massively successful team. It’s been good, getting to know Giles a little bit over the last couple of months. He’s probably a little like Phil. He’s an incredibly busy man. He

doesn’t need to get involved in the sport, but it has a place in his heart, particularly youth development. 

“He gives up a lot of his free time and headspace to help these lads get on the ladder. He’s obviously got a relationship with agents. Obviously, Tom Pidcock’s got a big name in that world. He’s got a great relationship with U23 development teams and so on. 

“He’s really passionate, particularly about getting that first step on the pathway for these young lads to get started in the world of pro cycling.”

Timothy John 

“Phil, you had a long conversation with Giles at the Rayner Foundation dinner, I seem to remember.”

Phil Jones 

“Yes, I did. He’s a great guy and, as I described, incredibly passionate, but very, very well connected. Very, very commercially-minded too. 

“When you’re bridging straight across to someone like Trinity, and as we also know, Trinity is incredibly well connected straight into the WorldTour, based upon the dynasty that sits

behind Trinity. 

“As a result, I think these very, vey strong connections are excellent, and if Giles is there with a fantastic development team, people like Ed, resources, training camps, all of those sorts of things, it’s almost a guaranteed route into becoming a development rider on a WorldTour team. 

“That sounds pretty good for the future for young British riders wanting to enter cycling as a professional career.”

Timothy John 

“I mentioned in passing there, Ed, Alex Beldon and you taking him down to the Portsdown Classic, but you weren’t operating as a taxi service there. You were there to race. Do we call it a comeback?”

Ed Clancy 

“I don’t know about a comeback, but I absolutely loved everything about that weekend. I did the team launch with the junior lads on Saturday, and then I picked up Alex Beldon [on the Sunday]. 

“He’s a first-year U23, and on the way down, it was great chatting to him. We had a good five hours in the car on the travel down to Portsmouth, and it was good seeing him in the

race, in the bunch. 

“Those lads are a cut above where I am the days. He got seventh or eighth in the end. I think he won the bunch sprint, if you like, at the top of the last climb. 

“I really enjoyed the weekend: meeting Alex and seeing how he’s doing with his career and trying to impart a little bit of wisdom. I wouldn’t expect much more of a comeback than 45th


Phil Jones

“Ed, did you notice any difference in the racing style from when you were on JLT and Vitus? Here you are again, suddenly with your leg over a bike, which I thought was absolutely brilliant. What difference did you notice in the racing style since you were last out there?”

Ed Clancy 

“Good question. I think for me, personally, it was the first time I’d ridden in a British race and not been part of a big British team. Straight away, there was no impetus for me to get on the front and chase things back and bring breaks back, and I think that was a running theme of the race. 

“We had Saint Piran there, which was very much the dominant team, and we had other teams there. I don’t think this is ‘new news’, but there was nobody who could coordinate a solid chase or who had the impetus to coordinate a solid chase to do anything about it. 

“It was very much a case of, a break’s gone, and there’s a few Saint Piran lads in it who feel confident. Of course, it yo-yos, but it was never coming back. I guess in an ideal world you

have multiple teams who are capable of winning, but, right now, and it’s been the case for a couple of years, Saint Piran are a dominant force, and they sometimes make it look easy.”

Timothy John 

“Let’s give our listeners a little bit of background on this race that we’re now discussing in some detail. It’s now called the Portsdown Classic but long-term listeners might recognise it as the Perfs Pedal Race. It’s been revived, saved, by a race organiser called Seb Ottley. 

“It’s a short, hard, 45-mile Nat B race near Portsmouth. It was held on February 11, and won by Sam Culverwell of Saint Piran. Second was  Jamie Whitcher of Bournemouth

Cycleworks-Vitec Fire, and third was Rowan Barker, another Saint Piran rider.”


Part One: Inside the Task Force

Timothy John

“That mention there of Seb Ottley, a race organiser, gives us a very nice lead, doesn’t it, into the main business of the day. Let’s talk now in some detail about the Elite Road Racing Task Force. This is a major initiative which both of you have been involved with for some time. 

“Again, let’s bring people back up to speed. It was commissioned last August by British Cycling’s CEO Jon Dutton and was given a remit to consider the elite road racing calendar (that’s

the National Road Series and National Circuit Series), the challenges facing domestic teams and opportunities to grow the reach and profile of the sport. 

“There were eight people on this panel including Ed, of course, who chaired it, and Phil, who, as we’ve already mentioned, worked very closely with Ed. It also included team manager John Herety, race organiser Chris Lawrence, marketing experts Jess Morgan and Steve Fry and riders Jo Tindley and Monica Greenwood. 

“Now the panel followed a five-step, problem-solving mechanism - diagnosis, discovery, debrief, decisions and direction - and they published an Initial Analysis based on the discovery 

phase last October. 

“Two weeks ago however, the panel published 16 recommendations based on 40 action points, which British Cycling has pledged to take forwards. 

“So how do you reflect now, both of you, both Phil and Ed, on this long and detailed process behind the report? It’s a big chunk of work, isn’t it, to which both of you have given a

significant amount of time. 

“Ed, how was it for you? Your first experience in chairing a panel, I’d imagine.”

Ed Clancy 

“It was, yeah. I met Jon Dutton for the first time probably about a year-and-a-half ago now at an event not long after I’d retired in Tokyo. It sounds glamorous, but it wasn’t. I met him, I had a meal with him and exchanged pleasantries and said our goodbyes. That was the last I heard of him until six to nine months later when he was the new CEO of British Cycling. 

“At that point, I dropped him a message, said hello, congratulated him on the new job and just offered a hand and said, ‘If you ever need anything, let me know.’ He took my up on the

offer. We had a little meeting. Again, we went our separate ways. 

“A couple of months later, he came back and said, ‘Ed, I’m really happy with where grassroots is, participation in the sport and so on.’ He’s very happy with the top end of the sport, how the Olympic team is getting on under the watchful eye of Performance Director Stephen Park. 

“But there was this complicated middle ground, which, as we all know, experienced this wonderful boom period between 2008 and perhaps 2018: a great decade of exciting racing. We had a proper domestic scene in itself and really that’s been struggling, as we all know. He wanted to commission a little task force that include Phil and I and everybody else you just mentioned to put some recommendations to him. 

“I guess we’ve got to say, first things first, hats off to Jon. He could have quite easily said, ‘Let’s go where the energy is going,’ wherever it is: sportives, gravel rides, but, no, he really

wants this to work. 

“But in terms of answering your question, I think it was very much a worthwhile process and absolutely a necessary first step just to have a pragmatic road map that British Cycling can hopefully choose to follow to turn this oil tanker around.” 

Timothy John 

“Well, Phil, far from your first experience in what I guess is a version of corporate life. This is bringing together people with different skillsets to solve a very complex issue. You must have been in your element.” 

Phil Jones

“Yes, this is the sort of bread and butter stuff that we do all the time in corporate life, which is to create strategic plans, strategic road maps, try and diagnose problems, try and look at how you break problems down, how you bring different qualities to the problem-solving process.

“So, it was very sort of familiar ground to me, but I just want to make the point as Ed has described there: it was a courageous decision by Jon to say, ‘Ok, we’re going to get this going,’ because, of course, BC don’t just look after elite road cycling. They have a whole portfolio of different cycling sports that they are responsible for, and of course, quite rightly, if you start a task force for this, every other part of the sport is going to say, ‘Well, when are we having our task force?’ because everybody wants to have more funding, better organisation, and all these sorts of things, but you have to start somewhere, don’t you?

“If you were listening to the negative voices in cycling, there was a huge amount of negative voices around the state of the sport, one would guess, and a lot of those negative voices

were just pointing at British Cycling, saying, ‘Your dysfunctional. Your failing. It’s your fault.’ 

“Bu our job was to come in as a combined group of brains and say, “Why have we got to where we’ve got to? What’s happened? What happened in the past? What’s the journey been? Why are we here?’ 

“And then to say, ‘Ok, well if that’s the current state,' what we call the current state, what we then look at is what we want to be the ‘to be’ state.’ If that’s where we are, what do we want

to be, and how on earth do we get there, I guess is the very simple way that you would describe it.

“When Jon got hold of me and said, ’Look, will you jump on and help?’ I said, ‘Well, I would.’ It’s very easy to stand on the sidelines sometimes, isn’t it? It’s very, very easy. There are a lot of people standing on the sidelines, there are, who are critical of the sport and are very quick to jump on and be negative. It’s like, ‘Ok, well what are you going to do to try and help it, other than just be noisy?’

“I think sometimes you’ve got to maybe just step up and say, ‘Ok, let’s see what we can do.’ For all of us involved, that’s Ed, me and the six other members, yeah we have contributed a lot of our personal time, given up our evenings, given up day times to help to solve this because, otherwise, who else is going to do it?

"BC would probably have needed to bring in a set of management consultations to do this at great cost. But would they really have the knowledge? Would they be able to fast-track this outcome? I believe, although it’s taken some months to get to where we’ve got to, we’ve managed to achieve in some months what it would have taken a set of management consultants a lot longer to achieve; at least this first set of recommendations that we pushed back to BC.”


Part Two: A Unique Mix  

Timothy John 

“It struck me, guys fairly early on, that there was a pretty unique mix of skill sets here. In John Herety, you’ve probably got the most respected manager in the history of domestic road racing. In Jo Tindley, you’ve got a former national circuit race champion. Ed, of course, your riding career speaks for itself.

"Chris Lawrence organises the Newark Town Centre Races, he organises the Dudley Grand Prix. He was involved with the Barnsley Town Centre Races, but you also had people on the panel with commercial acumen, people who understand the marketing game.

“How did that all come together? Did they prove to be complementary skills? Was there any friction to overcome? Did you pretty soon establish a working method? Ed, you were trying to keep all these people in line."

Ed Clancy 

“I guess it was my job to be inquisitive by nature, which is easily done for me. At this point, like Phil said, this process is bread and butter for him, and I leant on Phil heavily for that five-stage structure, which I think Phil gave to me after that very first session and said, ‘Ed, let’s have a look at working with a framework there.’

"I remember we shared a few WhatsApps backwards and forwards and quite quickly got to this idea that we needed to create ‘problem buckets’ and ‘opportunity buckets’ and then we had ‘sporting buckets’, so we were talking about the task force members.

"Fortunately, we had Jo and Monica, who are very much here and present in terms of the latest sporting problems. In terms of commercial problems, we had the wonderful Phil Jones, and in terms of PR, media, we had Jess and Steve Fry. 

“I think we had all the component parts. We had a great team. There was no bickering. There was no falling out. I think we had every angle covered. I haven’t mentioned Chris Lawrence yet, but he’s really well connected, in the cycling world in general and particularly with the organisers, in and out of British Cycling, and incredibly passionate as well. I think

between us, we had all aspects covered. 

“We went on this discovery phase, which we might go into a little bit, and we had hundreds of people coming back to us. We had face-to-face interview within British Cycling, completed surveys, and that’s the empirical evidence. Anecdotally, we probably had tens of thousands of voices being fed into me, into Chris Lawrence, into Phil, both present and from over the years. 

"Yeah, we had a great team."

Timothy John 

“Phil, how was it for you? I guess you’re used to siting down with a sales director or a chief marketing officer or a chief technical officer and maybe not John Herety, or an Olympic champion, or a British circuit race champion. 

“How different was the atmosphere, how different was the vibe from people working in sport than in corporate life?”

Phil Jones

“I guess you immediately find that there is a lot of passion. Sometimes, in corporate life, we’re a bit less emotional and a bit more ‘functional’ when it comes to those sorts of things, but I think that was a really good thing because that passion was what was needed to turbocharge some of the outcomes that we’re all working on. 

“I just wanted to loop back to something that Ed said there, which I thought was a really good point. I know that when the task force was announced, some people were saying, 'It’s too

small/. There are lots of other people who should be on it, and you’ve missed this person or that person.’

“All my experience, having been doing this for a couple of decades now, one of the things when you’re trying to deal with these really, really complex problems, is that you need to have a fairly small group doing it, but when you create that group, you make sure that the group is well networked: that is that those individuals can pull on their second-level connections and third-level connections to gain information quickly. 

“We had what we would describe in the trade as qualitative information and quantitative information: the numbers, surveys etc. but also the anecdotal stuff that’s coming back. We had to make sure that everybody who, on that very small, crack team that we’d pulled together, pretty much knew everybody. We knew all the media people, we knew the race organisers, the riders knew all the riders on the other teams, and the team managers. John could speak to pretty much anybody. 

“That meant that a lot of the discussions that, let's say, needed to be, let’s say, longer and deeper, could easily be had, and it also meant that could be debriefed back into the Task

Force incredibly quickly. 

“Let’s say somebody who might be influential, whether that be Denny at the British Continental or Larry at VeloUK, who have been in the sport a long time, who are commentators, who have specific things that they want to feed back in, they were listened to very deeply in order that we could pull that knowledge and pull all of that information into our pool very, very quickly to discuss it, debate it and process it. 

“As Ed described there, it really didn’t matter that we were solving a problem in cycling, because as long as you're following a framework and a process, it almost doesn’t matter what the industry is, or the sector is; the process takes you through. 

“And that was the key thing, really. You get the right team, apply the right process, and by applying the right process you take people through that journey, and you ultimately come out at an end of something. You’ve got a list of things which you prioritise and you decide what you want to do with it: what’s important, what’s not important; what’s in your control, what’s

not in your control; what will have high impact, what will not have high impact. 

“I think what we saw was all individuals involved in the task force able to make very positive net contributions, and what that means is that they’re bringing their individual expertise to the table. 

“There are things that I definitely don’t know about the sport. I’ve never raced a bike race in my life. I’ve never run a team, but I could hear from the expertise of the people in the room what that meant, what the real problems were that they were experiencing, what were the real issues that meant something to the riders, here and now, today, not ten years ago when

the sport was in its heyday, but actually here and now.

“What are the practical things that are on the desks of team managers and riders right now about the way races are organised. how they’re supported by the federation, what their view is about race organisation? All those sorts of things. 

“My view, in terms of the footprint of the sport that we were able to cover and the speed that we were able to cover it, I think it was a pretty good outcome.”

Timothy John 

“Well, it sounds like you had a good group; a good group dynamic and were able to get through this huge challenge at a fairly decent rate. With that said, there was a lot to consider, wasn’t there? Marketing, technical aspects of race organisation, safety, the geography of the calendar: an awful lot to plough through. 

“Was it difficult to meet that January deadline? Would you have liked longer? And if you’d had longer, would there have been more or different recommendations? 

“What do you think, Ed? Had you seen enough of it by January, or would you have liked a bit longer to work on it?”

Ed Clancy 

“Well, first things first, the initial idea was that we got it completed by the end of 2023. I think we all, relatively early on, realised that while we probably could have done it by the end of 2023, we waned to do it right and, again, it was one of Phil’s suggestions, that we went on this discovery phase. We didn’t just want ti sit around in our circle of eight people, despite all the anecdotal evidence that we had. We wanted to reach out, to bring people in for one-to-one interviews: managers, organisers, volunteers, riders.  

“Everything we heard there really helped to confirm what we thought we already knew. We reached out to everyone, and we didn’t find any silver bullet, if that makes sense, but it was good and it gave us confidence that we were on the right path, we were thinking the right things. All of these hurdles and barriers that we’d been talking about were confirmed by

everyone we reached out to. 

“That discovery phase took time, and it took British Cycling resource and effort to go out there, to write these surveys, to give people time to come back, and, for what it’s worth, I’m glad we did that, I’m glad we missed the original deadline, but I’m also glad that we worked hard, as Phil said, every week we were on a Zoom call, sometimes to 9pm, 9.30pm, after everyone had come back and had dinner. 

“I think it was important that we got it out at the start of this year so we can give British Cycling a chance to act upon these recommendations. Some things will start taking place before the end of this year and some things will take a few years to act upon.”


Part Three: In Scope

Timothy John

“Obviously a very busy schedule and obviously a large amount accomplished. 

“Phil, as you look back on these 40 action points, sixteen of which have gone before the public, are you satisfied? Was that targeted remit sufficient for you to get to grips with the

underlying challenges of the scene? 

“Just to recap, the remit was the composition of the elite national calendar, the challenges facing domestic teams, and opportunities to grow the reach and profile of domestic races. 

“Did that give you sufficient scope?”

Phil Jones

“Yes, I think so. Actually, what I would say is the fact that it was a narrow scope probably helped a lot, because if the scope had been much wider, you would have ended up having to go right the way through the ‘B’ scene, and right the way down to the junior scene, and go up to the WorldTour. You'd need to understand all of the interconnectivity between all these things. 

“So while we did, and while we understood what those influencing factors were - the importance of B races, then the importance of A races, and then you’re into European racing and

WorldTour; we understood all of that - but I think what you have to do when you’re running a project like this, is you have to make sure that you’re keeping people on track. 

“Ed was very good at that, by the way. One thing I’ll say about Ed, is that even though it’s his first time in the chair, you can tell why Ed is a successful Olympian because he listens a lot, and he learns a lot, and he absorbs a lot, and he asks good questions. That’s what a good chair needs to do, actually, is to bring a group together and to bring things out 

“What you’ve also got to do is to keep things on track and where someone might go off on one about this or about that, you’ve got to come back and say, 'Does that influence the

outcome that we are trying to generate, i.e. the scope and the mandate that we have been given?' 

“There were things, but you have to push them to one side and say, ‘That’s not us. That’s for somebody else to solve.’

“Within it all, clearly there are a huge amount of influencing factors. Some are very, very easy to put your hands onto. We could quite easily put our hands on the issue of the ageing nature of race organisers. The average age is getting older. Some are retiring from the sport, deciding not to do it anymore.

"That’s an easy one to point at. What we’ve got to try and do is attract younger organisers. We’ve got to try and do some knowledge transfer. There needs to be better training. There needs to be more education. There needs to be more encouragement and motivation for people to do it and to start races etc. That’s quite easy. 

“But when you look at the, 'Well, why has cycling got to where it’s got to?' question, there are even bigger factors going on, such as the post-pandemic global economy. The wars that are going on globally. They all are influencing the trading environment, for example, for commercial sponsorship. Races and teams require commercial sponsorship. Why can't they get commercial sponsorship? Should it not be easy? Well, actually, it's because businesses are tightening their belts. They're shutting down on discretionary spending etc.

“This sport, like many sports: [sponsorship issues] are not exclusive to elite road racing. You go round any sport and you talk about how easy is it to find sponsors right now, and

everybody will tell you tale of woe. 

“The sport of elite road racing has been squeezed as a result of some of the macro global economic things that are going on which are impacting our economies.

“Ed, as a cycling commissioner, knows how now budgets in local authorities have been squeezed desperately. They’re all running on fumes right now, a lot of the local authorities.

They’re having to make choices now about where they spend their money. 

“What might have been an easy one - 'Oh, let’s throw some money at a circuit series race' - five years ago, now, if they haven’t got enough money to get  the bins emptied where you live, then they’re going to put the money into getting the bins emptied because, politically, it’s the right thing to do.

“So all these other mitigating factors are happening. Is it within our control to solve that? Well, know it’s not. How on earth do we try and navigate through that, and I think this is where we began to think about, ‘This is not going to be solved immediately.'

"The global economy is not going to recover overnight. The British economy is still stifling after Brexit. We’ve got all of these issues going on, so all we can do, I think, is create a direction of travel, so as long as we follow that direction of travel, the end result will come. 

“The question will be, can you put your finger on what year that end result will come in? Well, I don’t think we can right now, but there are certainly building blocks that we’ve identified:

some easy things to do, which are in our control, which can be done, which will have an impact on the sport. There are some other things which will take a little bit more time.

“An example bing getting more races in the south of England. It’s an obvious one, isn’t it? You look at the calendar and say, ‘To solve the sport, we need to put on another three or four races in the south.’ But that’s easier said than done, because you might need as an organiser forty to sixty thousand pounds in commercial sponsorship to even start that. If you’re looking at road closures, you’re looking at a minimum of a thousand pounds for every police motorbike that turns up to create a rolling bubble. They’re huge costs. 

“Then the discussion goes, does it not, ‘Well, you’ve got to reduce the costs.’ Ok, yes you can do some of those things. You could perhaps have clever course designs, shorter courses with more laps, for example, to try and minimise the impact on road closures, but, at the minute, the cost of a police motorbike is not changing. You can’t just wander over and say,

‘Look, can you do it for £300 for us as a favour?’ It’s not happening. That’s the cost.

“Dealing with all of these things, together, it’s like…Look, if someone had given us a £50m budget, and you knew that was coming from central government, and said, ‘Right, Ed, your job as chair is that you have £50m and you have to decide how to spend it to revive the sport,’ I think we might have had a few nights out somewhere and come up with lots of really good ideas, but the reality is there's not enough money about, there’s not enough expertise about right now, British Cycling’s resources right now, in my opinion, need better resourcing, effectively, so we can only try and work with what we’ve got. 

“I think one of the difficulties of when we put out the report was, we should narrow it down, because not everything is instantly achievable, let’s say in the next three years. Let’s try and focus on things that can be done in the next three years, perhaps.”


Part Four: Just One Word

Timothy John

“Ed, if you had a single word to describe this report, what would that be?”

Ed Clancy 

“Hmm. Just one word? Is that all you’re going to give me, Tim?”

Timothy John 

"Umm - yeah.” - Laughs

Ed Clancy

“I don’t know. I think ‘attainable’ is the obvious one, but if I could have three, it would be ‘logical’, ‘pragmatic’, and ‘attainable’, for the reasons Phil said. 

“If we gave the recommendation, ‘We should have a big Netflix series. Come and follow the National Road Series around and the National Circuit Series.’ Yes, of course that would

bring in loads of money, loads of sponsorship, loads of attention, and it would boom overnight. 

“If we gave the recommendation to British Cycling, ‘We recommend you invest £10m in the domestic road racing scene,’ it’s just not on the cards. We tried hard to make logical, pragmatic and attainable recommendations that could be implemented. 

“Again, I think there was some sort of frustration out there….only in parts, I think, generally speaking, it was really well received. Where there was disappointment was there was no easy solution, and there isn’t any. Despite all our best efforts, going on this big discovery journey, everything all of these experts in the room knew and know.

“There are certain things that we can control within our sphere of influence. I believe every single thing that we can control within reason is in that list.”

Timothy John 

“Yeah, You said ‘some negativity,’ I’d agree with you. Most of the responses that I’ve encountered anecdotally or through the prism of social media have been remarkably positive. It’s been well received, I think. 

“In terms of the time frame, though, three years, I think, was quoted in the report. Do people understand that, do you think? Are there still hearts and minds to win here?”

Ed Clancy 

“You know what, if there is frustration that things can’t happen overnight, I’m happy to take stick for that. I like to see people passionate about the sport. I like to see people impatient.

“We briefly mentioned the Portsdown Classic that I rode last weekend, and it was ace. Phil mentioned how passionate people are about sport, and I am too. I’m impatient. 

“When we zoom out from this, if there’s one message I can get across on this podcast it’s that we’ve all got to stop asking, ‘What’s our sport going to do for us?’ And we’ve got to start asking, ‘What can we do for our sport?’ 

“Whether you’re Phil Jones, and you’re throwing money at a few teams and a few races, whether you’re Ed Clancy, who doesn’t have money to throw around, but he can turn up, he chan chair a task force, he can give his spare time. 

“Whether you happen to be meeting your local councillor, in a random meeting, and you can speak about the positive benefits of people getting out and being fit and active. All that stuff

costs nothing.

“If nothing else, I do think this task force has raised the profile of the issue and there is some positive energy about the place again.” 

Timothy John 

“And I expect you do meet councillors in your role as Active Travel Commissioner for South Yorkshire, Ed.

"Phil mentioned that a lot of local authorities are running on fumes. I think was the phrase you used there, Phil, and clearly delivering core services is always gong to be prioritised over a bike race, but is it as straight forwards as giving them a black and white choice these days? Are there avenues, are there angles that cycling can explore to unlock those local authority budgets?”

Ed Clancy 

“I believe so, yeah. Working in South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authorities, which encompasses Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley and Sheffield, I think, yeah, people believe in youth. People believe in children’s mental and physical health. They know that thousands of independent studies have shown that, particularly in young people, physically active, mentally they’re always in a better place. They can concentrate better at school. If we can create habits young, they’ll take the habit of walking and cycling, or whatever it is, into teenage years and into adulthood. There are massive economic benefits attached to that, in terms of extending your working life, reducing the burden on the NHS. 

“So, to answer your question, what are local authorities interested in seeing? Legacy, off the back of these events. I think the days of hosting a bike race, particularly a national circuit series, a load of men and women all turn up, race their bikes for a couple of hours, and off it goes, that’s one thing, but if we could surround that with mass participation events,

sportives, bike ability sessions or whatever it is, community engagement events, I think that’s good for all the reasons I’ve mentioned prior. 

“And, again, if you can do things that encompass local businesses, local schools, it becomes much safer politically for them as well. In a nutshell, it’s going to have to be more than a bike race, but, yes, I do believe that they still want it, and they will make room for it in their budgets.”

Timothy John

“That’s good to know. It used to be all about, ‘We can bring footfall to the town centre,’ but now it’s a much wider target, isn’t it? It’s active travel, it’s wellbeing, it’s all of those social targets that a local authority must achieve as well as delivering the core services. 

“Phil, one of the things that jumped off the page at me, where I thought, ‘Clearly, Phil has had an input here,’ is the recommendation that the National Road Series and the National

Circuit Series be allowed to target a separate sponsorship, a separate title sponsor from British Cycling. 

“We heard that, didn’t we, a couple of seasons ago now from Peter Harrison up at the Beaumont Trophy, in the time that British Cycling was sponsored by HSBC, and the local organisers were having to give up advertising space on the banners and in the programmes to accommodate HSBC, which was causing them to tear out their hair. 

“So this recommendation that the National Circuit Series and National Road Series might have a different title sponsor to BC, how significant could that be?”

Phil Jones

“This came out of some of these deeper dive discussions. What you’re trying to do is unpack where you’ve got to. One of the obvious questions is, from a commercial point of view, is, ‘You’ve got your title sponsor covering everything,’ and, of course, we know there’s an incredible amount of contention around the current major sponsor for British Cycling in Shell,

and, of course, that's led to an awful lot of in-bound, negative PR and impact for the federation.

“You’re looking at it all and saying, ‘When we look backwards at the years gone by, there were separate sponsors for the National Road Series. They had their own separate commercial sponsor, distinct from the major sponsor from the federation, so it’s kind of like, ‘So what changed?’ Probably at some point, that all got wrapped up in a bigger deal because someone was trying to land someone big like HSBC, so they rolled up all the rights and, of course, that got sold on.

“One very famous thing, working for a Japanese company, we have this saying, ‘You’ve got to understand how the work works’. You can be strategic, of course you can, but you must understand how the work works. How does it build up? How do we get things done? When we look at that and ask how commercial sponsorship within the organisation currently works, and you start to unpack it, to understand how it all works, you ask, ‘Can this be carved off again in order that road racing can take some of the sponsorship that’s coming into the federation and directly put it back into the sport? Can it do that?' And the answer was, in reality, yes, it could happen like that again. 

“It was like, ‘Ok, then. Well, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?’ because probably there are second-tier sponsors out there who don’t have the money or the inclination or the brand strategy to want to do everything in cycling, but they might look at road cycling and say, ‘We’re a wheel manufacturer or a road bike manufacturer, or a bike manufacturer, or a nutrition brand or a

clothing brand or something, where carving that audience off is of interest to us and fits our marketing and brand needs spot on.’ 

“That seemed quite an obvious one for me. If you look at all the sports in the portfolio, if I was BC, I’d be doing it for every sport, so BMX can have its own sponsor, mountain bikes can have their own sponsor, road racing, gravel, whoever, Those individual rights are carved off. Somebody can retain the overall thing, that’s fine, because someone wants to go to the Olympics and have their logo on the jersey, perhaps, but their needs to be a slightly more sophisticated and commercially astute model, in my opinion, in order to drive additional income streams back to the sport. 

“There isn’t a lot of new money coming into BC, in reality. Their budgets are probably being cut by the people who fund them: from government, from Sport England and all these sorts of things. We know that membership has declined. Jon, and his commercial teams, are going to have to find new money. As a result of that, when we were discussing it in the task force, [we concluded that] you’re going to have to find ways to build new income streams, that, for once, begin to put money back into the sport that can be reinvested in either training or television or social media or all the other things that it needs. 

“Everything, in reality, stars with money. Unless you solve the money issue, we’re never going to get the sport back up to its halcyon days when NFTO were there and JLT and all these great teams with fabulous motorhomes and big budgets and star riders like Ed Clancy and Dean Downing and Russ Downing and all of these superstars, back in the day, it’s money.

Start with money. When you get the money bit right, everything can flow from there. That’s going to take a while, Tim.”


Part Five: Presentational Matters

Timothy John 

“Well, I tell you what, my bill from British Gas isn’t getting any smaller. Tesco now measures its profits in the billions and must have a store in every town where there’s a National Circuit Series event. The banks and the City of London are always awash with money. I mean, my goodness, if the sport could land one of those then those halcyon days would come back in a hurry.

“Ed, you mentioned that phrase earlier, and Phil’s just mentioned Rapha-Condor, NFTO, and I remember 2012, 2013, 2014 and the domestic scene looked like the WorldTour. Did the panel give any consideration to the impact of presentation? That going along to a domestic race and seeing some trace of the professional sport is incredibly inspiring. 

“I noted that there was a recommendation to have a look at the regulations for circuit racing to make it easier for WorldTour riders to enter those races and you can just imagine, can’t

you, Connor Swift, for example, in full INEOS kit on the Pinarello bike. Suddenly, there’s a bit of pizzazz, suddenly there’s a bit of flair. Did the panel think about that?”

Ed Clancy

“Absolutely, yeah. I think there’s a recommendation to have a full review into such things, You kind of mentioned that the brand needs a refresh, and there's this idea, like a franchise works incredibly well. If you’re a local authority, and you want to buy into a town centre race, what does it look like, what’s its branding? I guess we want to get to this point where we have a brand, an image, certain criteria where, if a council buys a town centre race, they know what they’re getting. They know if there’s a VIP area, what branding it has on the side of it, almost like a little franchise model. Again, that will make it easier to sell. 

“Going back to the point before about British Cycling having the need to look for money, the good news is that I was at a commercial event, a businesses development event, rather, in

central London just last week, with British Cycling, and they’re trying. They’re doing all the right things, as far as I can see. 

“We were in central London There were a lot of heavy hitting financial organisations in there; people from the food industry, coffee industry and so on. I think that’s important because I don’t think cycling has been very inventive in the past. Because we’re cycling, we go to cycling brands, right? It’s natural. [We go to] cycling clothing, bicycle manufacturers to look for sponsorship and so on. And guess who else is struggling right now? The cycling trade, right? So I think the fact that British Cycling was doing a businesses development event in central London, outside of the usual circles, I think it’s a move I the right direction. 

“I hate to say it, but I do think landing a decent sponsor for the road series or the circuit series, and, like Phil said, I’ve always thought it would be a good idea if they could find sponsors that suit mountain bike, BMX, road racing, circuit racing, whatever it is. That would be a good thing.” 

Timothy John 

“Do you think, Phil, the circuit series offers more potential for innovation in that it’s more controllable? It’s infinitely more controllable than a road race. Could it become cycling’s Twenty20 cricket?”

Phil Jones

“Yes, that was the conclusion, I think, when the task force talked about it in great detail. If you’re going to make a show, then better to make that show in a city centre with high traffic, with a large population. But you don’t just make it binary. You bring together all sports. I can remember going to Bracknell Sports Centre in something like 1983 to see the Skyway team, with people like Billy Stupple pulling amazing stunts, and it inspired me to want to ride a BMX. You could have the world wheelieing championships, and Ed Clancy could enter that one was well. He’s well known for his wheelieing prowess!

“But, fundamentally, we looked at some of the playbooks at some of the races and the circuit series races that are doing really well right now, and why do they do really well, because they integrate everything: economically, transportation, heath agenda, active travel. They pull all of it together, and they put it all on one day, so that everybody feels like they’re getting something out of it. There are kids races, there are food vendors, so councillors are happy that it’s driving the economy. The active health agenda. All of those things That’s surely got to

be the winning pattern for what Ed described as a franchise. 

“We need to be able to take that playbook approach and wherever the event lands, you have that product delivered to a certain standard, whereas at the moment, not everything is coordinated in the same way. In circuit racing, we had SweetSpot delivering the Tour Series with one set of deliverables, and, of course, we had the National Circuit Series which was relying on race organisers in different places, so the product delivery could be very different. 

“Likewise, we’ve seen some Tour Series that have gone across the country - I’m sure Ed has raced in a few of them - where some would be packed out and others might have about 50 people at the side of the circuit, and they’d position the television cameras to make it look busy, but, actually, if you were on the ground, you’d realise there was hardly anybody

there. I don’t think the sport was doing itself any favours, fundamentally, by allowing those sorts of things to happen. 

“Moving forwards, it has to coordinate itself better, develop higher standards, minimum standards and playbooks for a consistent delivery model. Once you start getting that right, you can begin to package that up better, and you can begin to go somewhere with it, but until that happens, it’s still not quite the product yet, and it need, fundamentally, to become a product, city centre racing, with multiple parts of the sport, multiple benefits for the local authority and guaranteed to bring tens of thousands of people frankly into a city centre.”

Timothy John 

“Yeah, it can be done. We’ve seen it done. Ed, I’m sure you remember the Tour Series in Salisbury which was desperate to recover after the poisoning. I don’t know if you remember that.”

Ed Clancy 

“I do. You know what, as Phil was speaking there, I was literally trying to think of the name of the town down south, near to the big army base. The car park afterwards in Salisbury, you couldn’t move. It was a huge great area, rammed with people, shoulder-to-shoulder. It was a fantastic thing to race on home turf with a pack of your best mates and have so much support. It wasn’t just a cycling crowd that came to watch those events, it was locals: families, local businesses.

"Phil said already, they serve two different purposes, or two slightly different purposes, rather. The circuit series, you could argue, very simplistically, it’s more about entertainment, being a commercially viable thing. Again, very simplistically, road racing, domestically, has never really stood on is feet, financially, but it’s always been about having a pathway to other things, and when we did our survey, 52 per cent of the riders that came back to us said they wanted to make a career out of it. 

“I do believe we can get back to that point where we have a commercially successful, thriving circuit series, as well as a road race series that’s thriving in its own right.“

Phil Jones

“So, Tim, I wanted to come back to your point about one of the recommendations here which was a slight change in the regulations to allow WorldTour riders to participate. This becomes part of the draw, doesn’t it? If you’ve got a big star, suddenly finally, able to quickly participate, even if it’s for one race. 

“You’ve only got to go to places, like when the Tour of Britain was running. I've been to at a lot of stages. The number one bus with the biggest crowds around it was what was Sky and is now INEOS, without question. They had the biggest crowds, the largest number of people, crowded around looking to see riders. 

“The question there is, you’ve got to be able to use that wherever possible, so if a rider happens to be free in their schedule, they can say, ‘Do you know what? I could race a crit. I could do a Tuesday night or a Wednesday night. The sports director has signed it off, and everyone’s happy.’ You’ve got a superstar, potentially, who’s going to be on that circuit. It does help. 

It’s an additional thing that can potentially draw crowds. 

“These are some of the simple things, really. What’s preventing that was a regulation. ‘Well, ok, let’s just make a regulation change.' That’s for the Road Commission and other people to start the process.”

Timothy John 

“Well, chapeau for suggesting that, because I remember the London Nocturne. I was editing a the editor at the time of a website called RoadCyclingUK.com, and our office literally overlooked the circuit in Smithfield Market. Every year, the organiser would come along and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got Alex Dowsett. We’ve got Ian Stannard. We've got Laura Trott,’ and that made all the difference in the world. 

“If I could add a seventeenth recommendation to the sixteen that you guys have come up with it would be to engage INEOS. It is a company awash with money. It is the richest team in professional cycling. It is Britain’s only WorldTour team, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re one of the few that doesn’t have a development team. My goodness. It’s almost as if they’re

crying out for access to the best British talent, which is currently going to Team DSM-Friemnich-PosNL, Groupama-FDJ and elsewhere. 

“To me, it would be an ideal marriage, if you could bring that WorldTour glamour to domestic races, and, in return, you could provide a stream of talent to Britain’s only WorldTour team, two sides of the same coin. Anyway, Phil.“

Phil Jones 

“Tim, here’s a little factoid for you. Guess what the name of the pub is at the end of the mews were Sir Jim Ratcliffe lives when he comes to London? It's called The Grenadier.

“Ed, I think we need to go to The Grenadier, sit ourselves in that pub for a couple of nights, we’ll meet Jim, and we’ll see if we can tap him up for £30m or £50m. What do you think?”

Ed Clancy 

“Yeah, I think that’s a great idea, and, me and you, Phil, we can definitely act out on that seventeenth recommendation, Tim. If he wanted an U23 development team, I’d be all over it  I really think that would be a great thing for domestic racing, to have a pipeline of riders for Team INEOS. This is a world I know slightly less about, but it would seem that they don’t have a development team like FDJ and Jumbo-Visma have right now. We won’t go down that rabbit hole…”


Part Six: Stage Coaches

Timothy John

“We’ve talked about crit racing in depth. Let’s go to the other end of the spectrum now. One of the recommendations was for a guaranteed stage race, each season, of at least three days, and I wondered, what is the best way to achieve that? 

“Do you say to Jonathan Day and his team, this new British Cycling Events team, ‘This is your baby. This is your one contribution per year to the National Road Series’? Do you put it

out to tender to a professional organiser? Do you corral together a ‘superteam’ of volunteer organisers, people like Marc Etches, Chris Lawrence, Colin Clews?

“How do you make that happen? How do you make that three-day stage race happen each year?”

Ed Clancy 

“Good question. It’s a tough one that, Tim, and I guess the short answer is, ‘I don’t know,’ but I do know that, when you zoom out again, there’s passionate people within British Cycling's Events team, who have a wealth of knowledge. There are absolutely passionate people who have a wealth of knowledge in terms of those super organisers - Marc Etches, Chris Lawrence, for example. Have they got that [knowledge and passion] between them to make it happen? Yeah, absolutely. 

“Do they need to put it out to tender to a separate events organisation? I guess my initial impression would be not unless they’re very, very confident that they’re going to do a better job that the combined efforts of British Cycling’s Events team and the super organisers: James Hawkins, Seb Ottely, Chris Lawrence, and so on. Those are my initial thoughts, but I’d love

to put that one to Chris, or Phil Jones, for example, but those are my initial impressions.”

Phil Jones

“Tim, there are a couple of comments I’d make on that. One was, that’s just a commercial thing, really. It’s not lacking intelligence and resources and human resources to pull a three-day-er together; that’s not the thing that's lacking. Number one is the course, and number two is money. 

“One of the things we spoke about within the Task Force was, ‘Let’s look back at race courses and races which did exist which no longer exist, and why don’t they exist any more?’ There are races, if you’re looking back over ten, 15, 20 years, which were courses, and it’s only because they’re not courses anymore, because the person who organised it has maybe retired, didn’t have a successor, and all this kind of stuff. They were already known by the local authorities, and maybe the Tour of the Reservoir would be one that comes to

mind for me. The second thing is that you’ve got to raise the commercial sponsorship for that. 

“This came back to one of the fundamental things that we were asking ourselves, which is, ‘What does the scene need to revive itself?’ It needs a multi-day stage race. That’s one of them. It needs more races in the south of England. It needs more money. It needs better commercial organisation, etc. But it’s a glaring hole that there isn’t a multi-day stage race. In Ireland, they have the Ras. We need to bring something like that back to the scene. 

“Now, it can’t happen overnight, but it needs to be a stated ambition to bring that to the table as quickly as possible. It definitely couldn’t have happened in 2024, but maybe, with a lot of discussion, it could happen in 2025 or 2026, but the bottom line is, it needs to happen. 

“Alongside that, of course, which I’m sure we’re going to get onto, is the need for UCI races. We need more UCI races in the calendar, in order that we bring teams here, even 1.2 level races, in order that Continental teams come to the UK to race. At the moment, all of our Continental teams are going abroad to race because they haven’t got enough races here. We need to try and solve that. Again, that takes money, organisation, administration and now a bit of red tap because of Brexit and all these sorts of things, but it needs to be something that

the sport intends to rebuild. 

“And then, of course, we have the third thing, which, in parallel to our Task Force, we had a number of issues which emerged between British Cycling and SweetSpot, ultimately now leading to the failure of SweetSpot, the organisation, and BC now taking ownership of and running the two flagship events: the Women’s Tour and the Tour of Britain. 

“That’s quite big as well, isn’t it, if BC are suddenly going to organise that. SweetSpot was a dedicated organisation of people doing that, with a lot of people in it and a lot of smart people and a lot of experience. All of a sudden, that needs to get delivered by BC, so there’s quite a lot of internal challenges, I think, for them to step up now and be able to deliver a

UCI level stage race. An eight-day stage race, fundamentally, the Tour of Britain, takes one heck of a lot of organising.”


Part Seven: On Tours

Timothy John

“Well, I think you make a very good point there, Phil, and you’ve a perfect launch pad into the second part of this episode, which was to talk about the other major announcement of the winter, which came a couple of days after the Task Force’s recommendations were published, and that was the announcement from British Cycling that they are going to put a major focus on major events, including the Tour of Britain and the Women’s Tour of Britain, formerly known as the Women’s Tour, of course. 

“This was announced on February 2 by Jon Dutton up at the National Cycling Centre, and it was described as a “new vision”, quotes, for major cycling events in Britain. These events are to be delivered by a subsidiary of British Cycling called “British Cycling Events”, and that is to be led by Jonathan Day, the federation’s interim Managing Director. Now, British Cycling Events has already delivered rounds of the UCI Track Champions League and Jonathan Day has been a guest on this podcast. We know that Jono does a great job with the

national championships each year. 

“There were five key initiatives announced to support this vision. Top of the list was delivery of the Tour of Britain and Women’s Tour of Britain in 2024 and beyond, and, crucially, in the calendar slots previously occupied by SweetSpot’s Women’s Tour and Tour of Britain. 

“They’re also going to explore the feasibility of a multi-sport urban events series in Britain. They’re attempting to build on the success of the UCI Track Champions League and conduct a feasibility study on a new domestic track league concept. They'll continue to support efforts to secure mountain bike and cycle-cross UCI World Cup rounds in Britain. 

“And most importunely for everyone on this call, they also pledged in the same release to implement the Task Force recommendations.

“Let’s zoom straight in on the Women’s Tour and the Tour of Britain. Phil, you hinted at it. Ed. let’s get your thoughts on it. Why would BC be able to deliver a Women’s Tour and a Tour of Britain when SweetSpot couldn’t?”

Ed Clancy

“Well, let’s start with Jon. I think Jon Dutton, as you mentioned, he has got a great history and credibility and success in putting on major events, particularly in bringing different aspects together: elite men’s, elite women’s, disability sport, and making successful events happen in the past. 

“Is that a guarantee of future success? I guess not, but I think he’s shown willing. He’s clearly interested in making this work. We mentioned earlier that there have been business events

in central London. They know that they need to find financial support, or they know some financial support from a major title sponsor will help. 

“I guess there are certain inalienable facts of life, aren’t there? Life’s unfair. The goalposts move. There’s no guarantees. I’m going to stick with that last one. There are no guarantees right now. I don’t know. I definitely can’t predict the future, but I do know that they are going to give it their best effort. 

“They’re not pretending that they want this to happen. There’s a big impetus within British Cycling to try and make things work. I think everyone’s got their fingers crossed that they can.”

Timothy John

“Yeah,if you had to back one person to get this across the line, it would be Jon Dutton. He’s organised a rugby World Cup, for goodness sake; delivered a rugby World Cup, I should say; more than organised. He was a major player at last year’s Cycling World Championship in Glasgow, and, my goodness, if ever we wanted an event that demonstrated the power of major events, that was it.

“But Phil, is this the right solution for British Cycling? Jon Dutton has a formidable reputation in delivering major events, of course, but is it the right solution for an organisation without a title sponsor?”

Phil Jones

“I don’t think they had any choice. It’s well known. You only have to look up the background was: what happened and why British Cycling has taken this decision. It’s a very tricky and complicated situation, which I don’t think is worth diving into right now. If you want to learn more about it, go and Google it and read a few articles. 

“Fundamentally, the BC board has got to a point where, in simple terms, there’s an outstanding sum of money that SweetSpot owed BC. SweetSpot, from their point of view, were challenging that sum of money for lots of different reasons: it was about race cancellations when the Queen died, and Covid. It’s all about the financials behind the naming rights, fundamentally, under licence that they had from BC for the Tour of Britain.

“That debate was carrying on, and, fundamentally, it strikes me that the BC board had just had enough of it and said, 'We’ve got to draw a line under it.' By doing that, it’s led to

SweetSpot going into administration and BC bringing back those races and saying, ‘Ok, we’ll run them.’

“They can’t not run them because the moment you start losing days out of the UCI calendar, you’re probably never going to get them back. They’ve got no choice but to run something, so whether it might be a slightly tapered back version of what we normally might be expecting, we’ll have to see. 

“Clearly, with Jon at the helm, there’s a bold vision to want to deliver it and get it done. He’s got a huge amount of experience in doing that. The number one issue for them will be they are going to need to raise an almighty sum of money. Remember, the ticket sponsorship value that you’re looking at for that, you need to be raising seven figures for each race to cover the police costs, administration costs, getting the teams over, hotels, all of these things. It’s in excess of a million pounds for each race. 

“So, I guess, back to Ed’s point, what we’re seeing now is this busy activity of BC engaging with businesses of all sizes and types and sectors to see if they can land something to bring

to the table. Clearly, now, with it being in their portfolio, it’s now potentially their asset, they can begin to build something bigger around sponsorship of those races, perhaps. 

“A huge amount of commercial pressure on BC right now, I guess, given the timescales. We’re in February. As we know, the Tour of Britain is seven months away, eight months away. To be organising a race of that size and scale, is a big, big thing.

“But, in Jonathan Day, they’ve got a very experienced guy there. He knows what he's doing. He’s been in the sport a long time. He knows how to organise stuff. He just needs financial resources and Human Resources with the right expertise and experience to assist hm. If that happens, then there’s probably every chance they can run the races.”

Timothy John 

“We’ve got everything crossed. These are races of national importance. 

“Ed, just before we leave the topic, you’ve got an insight into the public-private interface: the way that local authorities, lower tiers of government, have an interest in cycling; have a

stake in cycling. 

“Is there a sense that British Cycling could succeed here, where SweetSpot failed? To take only on example, the cost of police motorcycles at a thousand pounds per day, per bike. Clearly, a commercial organisation like SweetSpot would have difficulty in renegotiating those terms.

"But for a federation, a publicly-funded organisation, would they in some way be better placed to overcome some of the hurdles that SweetSpot were unable to overcome?”

Ed Clancy 

“Would a local authority have more trust, more belief in a governing body delivering said event to said standards? Yeah, I think they probably would. If it’s something that a local authority in whatever area hadn’t engaged in before, it would probably give them a little bit of a confidence boost if they were approached by a governing body. 

“We spoke a lot about escalating police costs and things like that, and this is real, big picture, political stuff, which wasn’t in the scope of the elite road racing scene, but, hey, let’s

zoom out and think really big picture here. 

“The government is getting ready for a big general election, and they’ve released the plan for the motorist. Such a thing could never happen at this point in time. Would there ever be a point in time where British Cycling could approach a higher power in the government and say, ‘Hey, can we be helped out with policing costs here?’ Then, yeah, I do believe the governing body would be better placed to deal with that than a private entity like SweetSpot, for example. 

“Now that’s pretty big picture thinking. That’s nothing to do with the Task Force and our recommendations through the smaller lens of the elite road racing scene, but, yeah, I do think if

it’s in-house there’s always going to be potential for things like that to happen, even if it’s in four or five years time.”

Timothy John 

“Yeah, British Cycling is the federation, and presumably that will open doors that might have been closed to Sweetspot. 

“Phil, you wanted to come in.”

Phil Jones

“Yes, the federation will also have a public affairs team which will be influencing in government, which is really important. Sometimes, the sums of money involved, which maybe the federation might need to make sure that the Women’s Tour and the Tour of Britain are run, in the way that government runs nowadays, they’re rounding errors, aren’t they, in terms of funding. We talk in billions and tens of billions and trillions, don’t we, in terms of government debt. 

“If you go in and say, ‘Look, can you chuck £10m our way, and by doing that you’ll secure two national, flagship races, which are going to put the United Kingdom on the map globally,’

someone is going to start listening to that, 

“I think there was a lot of discussion, wasn’t there, I think it was La Vuelta, where the government funded all the police costs. It was all funded and paid for. Can’t that be done [here], given that the police force if funded through general taxation? Can’t it just be decreed that these races can have policing provided by the government and the budget coming from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport directly?

“For those things to happen, you need to be talking right in the centre of government, as Ed knows. You roll out someone like Ed and say, ‘Here you are. Here’s one of our triple Olympic champions. He’s at the front end of this. He’s an ambassador.' You’ve got to influence, right at the centre, in Westminster, ministers to extract a bit of money. 

“I think Jon’s got a lot of experience with that. I’ve already noticed on some of his LinkedIns that he’s spending a little bit more time in London and Westminster, and I’m sure there’s

plenty of lobbying going on behind the scenes to look at how to generate better income streams from the public sector.”

Timothy John 

“Well, watch this space. The next time that you’re down In London, Ed, you might find yourself on Downing Street trying to win a few hearts and minds won behalf of our sport. 

“Ed, Phil, thank-you very much indeed for joining me today. To say that we’ve covered a fair bit of ground would be something of an understatement. We’ve talked through many of the

recommendations of the Elite Road Racing Task Force in depth, and we’ve got onto the other big story of the winter which is the future of the Tours of Britain. 

“Thank-you very much again guys for joining me today, and thank-you to everybody out there for listening.”


Part Eight: New Opportunities

Timothy John 

“What opportunities do you hope to receive this year in your debut season with DSM?”

Josie Nelson

“I’ve got my race calendar up until May time. There are a few Classics in there; some climbing races. We’ll see how it goes really for the first half of the season and then work on it from there.” 

Timothy John 

“Any particular highlights? Any races that you’re especially looking forwards to?”

Josie Nelson 

“Yeah. I’m especially looking forwards to Strade Blanche. I’ve not done that one before. That’s got some interesting gravel. It should suit me well. I can be a good aid to the team in that.” 

Timothy John 

“Wonderful. Well, thanks very much for joining us today and very best of luck in 2024.”

Josie Nelson 

“Thank you.”


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.