News: British Cycling to charge teams to be ‘Elite team’


£1500 pound charge to teams wanting to register for British Cycling Elite National Team status

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On the BC website today was the following message as they announced the 2014 road national series programme. “Following the rapid growth of domestic racing in recent years and the burgeoning domestic elite racing scene, British Cycling also announce the introduction of a new tier of teams to sit below UCI Continental.”

“The new category of British Cycling Elite National Team will reward teams who meet a set of professional standards with a set number of benefits and guarantees inclusion into the Elite Road Series events. Along with UCI teams, the new Elite National Teams will be included in both individual and team overall rankings across the British Cycling Elite Road Series.”

Forgive me but this smacks of BC trying to make money from teams who over the last ten years have become more and more professional without necessarily increasing their budgets. When Sweetspot introduced the Tour of Britain and then the Tour Series with good TV coverage accessible to most of the country, teams were encouraged to invest in making their teams stronger, more professional. So the face of the British peloton has changed a lot in the last thirteen years.


But whilst some UCI teams have big budgets approaching a million pounds, the closure of UCI teams like IG Sigma Sport and UK Youth and the non-UCI registration of others who were going to be or have been, shows that the sport is certainly not flush with money. Other teams present in the 2014 peloton have also folded with the arrival of some new ones. On the whole, without having the information that BC would have, my guess right now is that taking into account teams closing and new teams being formed that there may well be LESS teams in 2014.

Many of the cycling teams who are very well turned out at events have budgets of less than £10,000, far different to the six figures that the UCI teams will have to invest. So for BC to ask them for £1,500 (2.5k or more says one team owner) is more than a little cheeky especially to do so in November when budgets are set. That’s not just my view but the view of many small teams who have been in touch.

According to BC, the existing club team structure will still exist in its current format. National Series events will also continue to be open to club teams and individual riders, although inclusion within the overall rankings for those series respectively will only be open to teams who have affiliated to the series for the full season. IE, you can ride Premiers but too bad if you want the Star Trophy which until now has gone to the winner of the Premier Calendar irrespective of what team they are in.


The question team owners are asking is – Why? BC say this “Elite National Team Status may be an end in itself for teams who only wish to guarantee inclusion in national series races, for others it will provide a stepping stone toward applying for UCI continental status in the future.”

In the past, organisers have generally given preference to teams for their National Series events because it looks good for them. As for a stepping stone to UCI level, does a team really need to pay BC £1500 or more to make that transition. A team like NFTO, which this year has gone from a ‘normal’ team to a UCI one doesn’t seem to have needed to have gone through that process.

A team that registers will, according to BC:
— be obligated to register for the 2014 British Cycling Elite Road Series
— Pay a series registration fee of £1500, on being awarded British Cycling Elite National Team Status
— have a team of between six and 12 riders
— Majority of riders must be younger than 28
— Riders must be all Elite, 1st or 2nd category
— Team composition must include a minimum of 50% British riders
— Attend each Elite Road Series event with a minimum of four riders to each. NB: a maximum of eight riders per team will be allowed at each event respectively
— Confirm final rider list to each event organiser no later than four weeks in advance of each event respectively
— Team support and equipment
— Teams must be present at national series races to provide support before, during and after the race for team riders.
– Are obliged to provide a team car with the requisite racking and equipment in order to provide service role within the race convoy
– All staff members full or part time shall hold a valid British Cycling licence, with the requisite endorsement, i.e. team manager
— Teams must be committed for staff to undertake any development/education as required by the National Federation – (for example, team manager training)

BC adds “Any team that does not meet the criteria for registration with the UCI or as Elite National Teams can register as a club”.

The costs for a team wanting to take up registering as an Elite team is as follows: Registration fee £175, Sponsor Affiliation fee – per sponsor £62, Series registration fee £1,500.00 & Event entry fees per event

BC say in their Benefits documentation that teams who register will benefit from Inclusion in online content on the British Cycling website from, around and about the series. Which in all fareness is something that all teams, clubs and riders should get for having paid for their licence and membership.


BC Elite National teams, say the organisation, will also have the opportunity to have their own team page within the British Cycling website to include news and updates about their progress in the series. Most teams will have their own websites so why will they want a page on the BC website which does not have a great reputation for supporting the sport. Remember, back in 2001, I was the one who created the first website covering the sport for BC which by and large was better received than the current one over ten years later.

You only need to look at the success of VeloUK to see that when I pressed BC that the sported needed better coverage that I was indeed correct.

BC also wax lyrical about doing a live blog from the National Series events. “For 2014 we will be using an online blog on the British Cycling website to deliver race updates to fans of the Elite Road Series.”

Hang on a minute, should they not be encouraging their members and licence holders to be out riding their bikes and not sat at their computer or phone etc to see what is happening in these events. Go to the races and see for yourself how those riding an early event will go home instead of hanging about to watch it. So the target should be one, to get people to stay and watch said event live and two, get the event on terrestrial television.

Sure, the events need to be covered, which VeloUK will do so again in 2014, but in the real world, people spend Sunday’s riding their bikes and relaxing before catching up on the day’s sport in the evening. BC add that teams will be included in Social Media. Just want to remind them that the Premier Calendar Twitter feeds and Facebook pages have less followers/likes than VeloUK which doesn’t have millions of pounds being thrown at it by Sky, the Government and so on.

Another ‘benefit’ is said to be Eurosport which teams will already get. Should a rider not in an Elite team get in a solo break, is BC saying they would not get coverage? I think they would! So nothing is changing really except a load of ‘soundbites’ from the corporate machine that is British Cycling.

The most telling aspect of this grab for a team’s money is the reaction from team managers who one, don’t have the budget to do it, and two, think it’s a money grabbing exercise by British Cycling. Looking through the documentation, there does not appear to be any ground breaking initiatives. They’ve removed the name by which everyone knows the national series by (Premier Calendar) and will continue to use and then want to find a new revenue stream.

So far, not one team manager/owner has said they think it’s a good thing. Plenty have said it’s a bad thing. If you want your say, by all means go to the VeloUK facebook page and let us know whether you’re for or against. There is plenty of voices being raised against that is for sure!



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