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Women's pro racing 'a rollercoaster', says team owner

Funding difficulties and slow progress means the sport is still only making tentative steps

Being involved in women’s pro cycling is ‘like a rollercoaster’, one team owner has said, with enormous funding problems and no women’s minimum salary.

Just a week after the conclusion of the second Aviva Women’s Tour - featured on ITV4 and watched by crowds of thousands across the country - the question of the sport’s future is still a strong concern.

Stef Wyman, the owner of Matrix Pro Cycling, home of Laura Trott, told the Telegraph he was still hopeful.

He said this year’s Women’s Tour was a “resounding triumph”, but he needed more money to bring his team to real success.

How much? A budget of £300,000 would, he said, make Matrix Pro Cycling one of the world’s top 10-15 teams.

“The average salary on the men’s WorldTour is around 260,000 euros,” he said.

“For not much more you would get a phenomenal return on your investment in women’s cycling.”

Despite Brian Cookson’s efforts to promote women’s cycling two years ago when he took the helm at the UCI, there is still no minimum salary.

This, says Wyman, is “essential, even if it puts a couple of teams out of business”.

“It’s like we’re on a rollercoaster, locked into the seats, but we don’t know where the tracks are going.

“Women’s cycling is on the verge of huge growth but it needs clarity of vision, better communication. Only then can we go to sponsors with a concept.”

Back in 2013, road.cc, along with Stef Wyman and Nick Hussey of Vulpine explored the true cost of running a women’s cycling team.

So what does it cost to run a women's team? Here's Wyman and Hussey's breakdown; it may surprise you.

£250,000
This is the total budget to establish a high-level professional team.

You can take on up to 2 named partners, who’s companies actually become the name of the team.

This amount creates a 12 rider team that can field its best teams for specific events, whether it’s the London Nocturne, or the Tour of Britain.

The sponsors can expect signed jerseys, team cars splashed with their logo, kit in their colours, VIP packages, riding in the team car, photo shoot at your office with the team. 

Professional teams also have access to the worlds highest level races including the Giro Italia, Tour of Flanders and Fleche Wallonne. 
It doesn’t quite get a huge Death Star style team bus though.

£100,000
On its own this is enough to create a world leading non-professional team.

This could provide a minimum salary to riders meaning they can concentrate on racing.

This creates an 8 rider team, not dissimilar to the current Matrix Fitness Racing Academy, but improved in terms of race preparation, media communication and corporate opportunities.

Races would include mid-level professional races at home and abroad including the Tour of Britain in 2014.
Lashings of value for sponsors, but not quite the all bells and whistles big time super-team of the £250,000 package.

£50,000
Co-title Sponsorship of non-professional team that’ll be part of the huge televised Tour of Britain and the consequent benefits.

VIP opportunities and all the trimmings of the £100,000, just with shared title with another partner.

£25,000
Non-professional registrations allow the team to split naming rights more than 2 ways. The team could gain an exclusive partnership of the team at the televised Johnson Health Tech GP series, including the production of exclusive videos with the team, specific casual wear, and VIP events on race days.

Corporate days with the team including rides with the team from your company HQ.

Full access to the team launch and use of the team at your trade shows or events.

£10,000
Provision of a rider Ambassador.

Corporate days with the team at leading events. Corporate logo on the team jersey and vehicles.

£5,000
Full Rider Ambassador package.

Logo placements and targeted team and rider return.
 
Hussey and Wyman have set their annual budget at £250,000; other figures have calculated that a top-flight team's annual spend would be around 450,000 Euros; a fraction of the annual salary of just one leading professional male cyclist.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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