Feature: ‘The Way Ahead’ – Part Three

Part three of Brother UK Cycling’s ‘The Way Ahead’ about British domestic road racing and the challenges it faces – reasons to be cheerful

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Feature: ‘The Way Ahead’ – Part Three

British domestic road racing faced serious challenges even before Covid19 decimated the 2020 calendar. How can it recover, strengthen and achieve sustainability? Enjoy part three of our in-depth investigation. You can read the full article on the Brother UK Cycling Blog.

Reasons to be cheerful

Reasons to be cheerful, one, two, three: British Cycling will host a National Road Series in 2021, Brother UK will remain at the sport’s side during what looks set to be a pivotal year, and Erick Rowsell, appointed the federation’s Elite Road Racing Manager in January, has already won the hearts and minds of disaffected race organisers.

Rowsell’s appointment is of particular importance. Not only is he the first incumbent of a position specifically created to address the organisational challenges of domestic road racing, but he is also a popular appointment; a man who knows what a bike race looks like from the inside. The sport whose future he seeks to secure is one in which he has spent a lifetime competing. The races he seeks to save are those he has contested and treasures.

That race organisers like Peter Harrison, the man behind the Beaumont Trophy and Curlew Cup, value his appointment is especially significant. Harrison is the most experienced of the volunteers who keep the show on the road; tireless servants of a sport that still depends largely on private individuals to deliver its biggest events.

Listen to the Brother UK Cycling Podcast Here

There are further reasons for optimism. Many of the teams embraced e-racing during lockdown and, if they are savvy, will recognise e-sport’s enormous potential to generate revenue. New graduates from the domestic scene to the WorldTour peloton – notably Matt Holmes (Lotto-Soudal) and Conor Swift (Arkea-Samsic) – have proved the worth of a cycling education gained on British roads.

And while many businesses have faced bankruptcy under lockdown, others have gained from the ‘new normal’ and might be seeking sponsorship opportunities. Further, cycling is experiencing the greatest boost to its popularity since 2012, even if the foundations of this new ‘mini boom’ are very different to Olympic success. ‘Active travel’ has flourished on roads suddenly made safe by home working’s dilution of Britain’s seemingly endless rush hour and amid warnings to stay off public transport.

This last trend, while not directly related to cycle sport, can deliver the same advantages. Local authorities – huge players in the health of domestic road racing, either as sponsors or enablers – have an economic interest in a healthier population. Many might be convinced of the advantages of staging a bike race as a halo event to inspire residents.

Click here to read the full article or listen to a panel of experts including Phil Jones MBE, Erick Rowsell and Larry Hickmott on the Brother UK Cycling Podcast, available now from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

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