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British Cycling to cut U23 road programme, cites "incredibly challenging financial landscape"

Great Britain Cycling Team head coach Matt Brammeier admitted "we just can't afford it any more", with track medals to get the "majority of the focus"...

British Cycling today said it is working to "evolve" the U23 road programme for next year, confirming fears reported over the past week that talented young riders of the future may see their opportunities cut to compete for Great Britain on the road at some of the most prestigous age-group races.

Riders have traditionally been able to compete under the national team banner at races such as Paris–Roubaix Juniors, Nations' Cup events and the Tour de l'Avenir, with the Yates brothers, Tao Geoghegan Hart and Tom Pidcock just some of the riders to have represented Great Britain at the week-long stage race in recent years, often viewed as a key indicator of future Grand Tour contenders.

However, in news first reported by U23 Cycling Zone, followed up by the RadioCycling podcast, rumours emerged that British Cycling and the Great Britain Cycling Team would be cutting its road programme for U23s from 2024, head coach Matt Brammeier admitting "we just can't afford it anymore".

Today, British Cycling has confirmed to road.cc that change is coming, Tom Stanton, Head of Great Britain Cycling Team Performance Pathways, saying the programme will "evolve [...] in response to the changing sporting landscape, and move to a model that forges stronger relationships with pro teams to effectively develop our country's best riders both on the road and on the track".

Stanton also acknowledged the "incredibly challenging financial landscape" facing British Cycling, RadioCycling's Chris Marshall-Bell reporting that the programme costs between £120,000 and £150,000 per year to run, with riders also expected to soon to stay at hotels for specific training blocks rather than in Manchester houses rented by British Cycling, another cost-cutting measure. 

And while British Cycling insists it will continue to send British riders to the UEC Under-23 European Road Championships and UCI Road World Championships, there are concerns some will see their racing opportunities cut.

Great Britain Cycling Team kit 2023 (Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com)

[Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com]

At last week's Nations' Cup Orlen event, two of the five stages were won by British riders, race wins that were facilitated by Great Britain's presence at the race. It is also unlikely the UCI will be thrilled at a major, well-funded nation removing its presence from many of the calendar's most prestigious U23 races.

The Great Britain team's presence at future editions of the Tour of Britain is also believed to be in doubt.

Head coach Matt Brammeier told RadioCycling's podcast: "The money we get is all spent on winning medals at the Olympics and the worlds, which is our UK Sport target and determines how much money the programme gets and what we can do.

"So, I'm sure everyone knows the medals on the track are more controllable, there are more of them and there's a higher percentage change of winning them which is why the majority of the focus goes there as well as a lot of other events. With the road we're in the position where we just can't afford it anymore."

Brammeier's colleague Stanton then today told road.cc: "The proposed framework aligns with what we are already seeing across other nations, to positive effect, and the work we have done to support our men's and women's Podium Endurance Programme riders to explore extended road programmes with domestic and pro teams.

"While we are still working through the final details of the 2023/24 programme, we expect to continue to send British riders to the UEC Under-23 European Road Championships and UCI Road World Championships, and will confirm additional race opportunities in due course. Our Junior Academy programme will be unaffected by the changes.

"Along with many other national governing bodies, British Cycling is facing an incredibly challenging financial landscape which is impacting all areas of our work. However, we remain as committed as ever to supporting the development of talented bike riders across the disciplines, providing them with the best possible platform for successful careers riding for Great Britain, professional teams, and at the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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7 comments

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exilegareth | 11 months ago
3 likes

Ah medal chasing - the short term policy that will end in tears when a future governemnt decides that all that lottery money needs to be spent shoring up public services by funding voluntary bodies to do things councils used to. Don't think that's likely? Look at how local authorities pulling out of funding tourism to focus on their core businesses is hitting the Womesn Tour and the ToB; entirely predictable, but everyone's acting like no-one saw it coming.

The problem is that BC operates in an echo chamber; most of its staff are engaged in medal chasing programmes, so all it does is write policies and budgets to chase medals. Its governance is a mess, its policy making is a disaster zone and it treats its members like customers, not people with a  voice in the sports future. That's why issues like the trans policy take up so much time to so little benefit; American politics has set the agenda, and since it's American TV money and sponsorship that funds the Olympics (where BC chases the medals it most values) aeons of time are wasted on staying within the Olympic tent instead on growing cycling as a sport for everyone.

 

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MattieKempy | 11 months ago
4 likes

Didn't they just get a massive, if morally challenging, cash injection from Shell?

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Secret_squirrel replied to MattieKempy | 11 months ago
2 likes

Ah yes but that for HQ to splurge on new shell branded bean bags.

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Secret_squirrel | 11 months ago
3 likes

So basically the disciplines that the politicians recognise Olympic, Commonwealth track events get more money than everything else - makes a depressing amount of sense.

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Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Secret_squirrel | 11 months ago
3 likes

For community and recreational cycling, you are better off being a member of We Are Cycling UK. They are a charity who actually have the average bike rider at the forefront of their work, and there are similar insurance benefits with membership.

https://www.cyclinguk.org/

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bobbinogs replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 11 months ago
1 like

Yepp, I jumped ship from BC to CUK last year after the nonsense about old Maj's funeral and BC telling me when/when not to ride.  Made me think about which org suited me as a rider and, given that I personally don't race, it seemed that I was in the wrong team with all that focus on racing and "Britishness", red, white and blue...yawn.  Can't see me going back now, with the Shell fiasco (money before ethics) seeming to confirm that my choice was the right one.

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wycombewheeler replied to bobbinogs | 11 months ago
0 likes

bobbinogs wrote:

Yepp, I jumped ship from BC to CUK last year after the nonsense about old Maj's funeral and BC telling me when/when not to ride.  Made me think about which org suited me as a rider and, given that I personally don't race, it seemed that I was in the wrong team with all that focus on racing and "Britishness", red, white and blue...yawn.  Can't see me going back now, with the Shell fiasco (money before ethics) seeming to confirm that my choice was the right one.

I'm amazed anyone who wasn't a racer stayed after BC told us that driving while watching video was OK for cycling team managers.

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