The Way Ahead: Erick Rowsell (Elite RR Manager)

Brother Cycling UK speaks to Elite Road Racing Manager at British Cycling, Erick Rowsell

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The Way Ahead: Erick Rowsell (Elite RR Manager)

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.

A new approach

Erick Rowsell has, arguably, the toughest job in British cycle sport. Appointed by British Cycling in January 2020 as its first Elite Road Racing Manager, Rowsell has had to win the hearts and minds of almost every community in the sport: teams, riders, fans and, most importantly, the race organisers.

If the challenge wasn’t sufficiently demanding, he has had to do so under lockdown. It says much for Rowsell that he has already has he gained support from members of the national organisers group and formulated a vision for a tiered structure for the National Road Series.

Rowsell believes that the present system represents a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This, he argues, is at odds with the diversity of domestic road racing, where postmen race against salaried riders. He identifies other anomalies, such as teams with an ‘elite’ designation unable to compete in the highest-profile British events but who can compete in UCI races abroad.

“We need to look at a more tiered approach where there are potentially three different series: a top series, a middle series, and a series for U23 and club teams,” Rowsell explains. “The structure would provide more certainty to teams, who could think: ‘Right, we know which series we’re competing in. If we can win that, potentially we can gain exposure in the next tier.’”

Rowsell does not underestimate the scale of implementing such a bold vision and is clear that it will not happen overnight. He is convinced, however, of its need. Teams are not calling for more National Road Series events, he maintains, only for a better structure and a broader geographical spread of races.

He denies that the domestic sport’s volunteer-based event model is broken, arguing that it provides popular and well-contested races. Rowsell believes that focusing on top-level races would further weaken a system whose ultimate aim is to develop talent. The domestic road scene’s biggest challenge is not to raise the bar, he argues, but to fill the gaps.

It is in the nature of UCI Continental teams to race abroad, he continues. Why else fork out for the designation? And how else to prepare for the Tour of Britain? Rowsell is determined to build his vision for a tiered approach from the bottom up, prioritising grassroots sport and rider development over razzamatazz.

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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