British Cycling Confirms New MTB Programme

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Just as we were wondering how Frazer Clacherty might manage the rest of his racing season without UK Sport funding, we get a press release from British Cycling telling us at least part of the answer. It’s quite a long press release, and we can’t help but feel that there’s a little bit to be read into some of it. Let’s have a look, shall we? The official release is in bold italics, our ‘decoding’ of what we think it might say is plain text.

They say:

British Cycling has today confirmed the plans for its BMX and mountain bike programmes for the remainder of their respective seasons along with the new structure which will be implemented from October onwards. Following the announcement made by UK Sport in December confirming they could no longer offer support to British Cycling’s World Class Programme for male mountain bikers or female BMXers, British Cycling has been working to ensure the minimum impact is made on riders within these disciplines.

We hear:

‘Oh crap. Our funding has been pulled. But we best not complain too much or they might pull some more.’

Evie Richard UCI MTB world cup
Evie Richards – safe for now. Photo Credit: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com/British Cycling

They say:

Ian Yates, performance pathway manager at British Cycling, explains: “First and foremost, we wanted to maintain the support we provide to male mountain bikers and female BMXers in achieving their Olympic ambitions, and I’m pleased to report we have been successful in achieving this. Thanks to funding provided by our lead partner HSBC UK along with support from our other commercial partners we are able to keep the two affected programmes running.

We hear:

‘Thank God for HSBC. And the other sponsors.’

They say:

“For the rest of this season, applications have been made by British Cycling on behalf of the affected athletes for an alternative line of funding to replace the ‘Athlete Personal Award’ (APA) which will cease on 30th June.

We hear:

‘We’ve put in an application and we hope that by making this public we’ll stand a better chance of it being successful. Potential funders, you know who you are.’

They say:

“British Cycling has purchased membership to the ‘Athlete Medical Scheme’ (AMS) for the senior academy riders affected from the mountain bike and BMX programmes. This means the current level of input they receive from British Cycling and the English Institute of Sport’s performance support team remains unaffected.

“Our aim was to keep the existing training camp and competition plan in place until the respective UCI World Championships for each discipline, and I’m pleased to say this remains the case.

We hear:

‘Phew. There would have been a lot of cancellation fees anyway. We might as well find the extra to actually get something out of it.’

They say:

“From 1st October, the two affected programmes will undergo changes; some details of this are outlined below and the rest will be confirmed in due course.

We hear:

‘We’re still making some of this bit up, once we figure out the funding arrangements (come on sponsors!) we’ll be able to go public with everything.’

Grant Ferguson: excluded by UK Sport. Image Credit: British Cycling website.
Grant Ferguson: excluded by UK Sport. Image Credit: British Cycling website.

They say:

“In terms of the over-arching model, we will be moving towards a two-tiered programme. This will see us maintain a centralised ‘senior’ squad in Manchester for riders aged 18 and above under-pinned by a camp-based ‘development’ squad for riders aged 14 to 17 years old. Whilst this change initially arose in response to our funding situation, having consulted closely with the coaches and support staff we believe it is an appropriate approach to take for these disciplines to ensure the structure suits the needs of their riders.

We hear:

‘Let’s try and turn a negative into a positive…’

They say:

“For riders in the senior squad that are affected (men’s mountain bike and women’s BMX), we will again nominate them for alternative lines of funding and we will support any additional individual applications they wish to make. Our performance lifestyle advisor will support the identification of suitable employment should the individual need supplementary income. I’m pleased to say we are able to purchase their membership to the AMS meaning they can continue to access the performance support team. Programme housing and ‘off-bike’ development opportunities will continue to be provided by British Cycling for riders aged 18-20, in line with what we provide to riders from other disciplines.

‘We haven’t got any money but we’ll nominate them for someone else’s money, and we’ll send them to a careers adviser. If it all falls through they need something other than cycling on their CV anyway…’

malverns singletrack magazine
Evie Richards before she was famous. Chipps spotted her and thought we might need this pic in future.

They say:

“The development squad will remain on a camp-based training programme, primarily at weekends and school holidays, with racing opportunities provided as appropriate to their individual development. Riders on these squads will also be nominated for alternative sources of funding, and once they have put the appropriate medical insurance in place for themselves, appropriate performance support will be provided to suit the needs of their discipline and athletic development if deemed necessary.  

We hear:

‘Let’s just slip that bit about paying for your own insurance in here. No one will notice.’

They say:

“These changes will require a realignment of coaching staff. The current coaching team have fed into this process with the support of our People Director, Michael Chivers, and we will update again on this once the process is complete.

We hear:

‘People are going to lose their jobs. They’ve been talking to HR. No one likes HR, let’s call it a People Director instead.’

Frazer Clacherty heads for his best ever World Cup placing. Image Credit: British Cycling Website
Frazer Clacherty – job hunting? Image Credit: British Cycling Website

They say:

“We understand the challenges that UK Sport face when it comes to making funding decisions across the sporting landscape and we’re grateful to the support we do receive from them. Thanks to the on-going support of HSBC UK and our commercial partners, we are back on track for our Tokyo 2020 aspirations and I’m confident we are now in a position to develop these young riders to reach their full potential.”

We hear:

‘We hate UK Sport’s guts, they’re short sighted and are jeopardising our chances of success in Tokyo in 2020. But we can’t complain about them because they’re still giving us a few crumbs. Thank the Gods for our sponsors. Fingers crossed some of these riders make it. Where’s that Performance Lifestyle Adviser, I think I’d best start making my CV look really good…’

What do you think? Are we being cynical? Are we being too kind to British Cycling and they’ve brought it all on themselves? Or are we right to be so critical of UK Sport’s obsession with Olympic medals?

Comments (2)

    Yeah, you’re being cynical. 😉

    UK sport funding is generous but it is performance based, no top finishes no money. Of course BC have tried to put a positive spin on it and no the article isn’t too cynical

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