Interviews Podcast

Matt Hallam: managing a domestic race team in the time of COVID-19

Podcast: Crimson Performance-Orientation Marketing manager discusses the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at the team, the state of domestic road racing and the team’s plans for next season

In the latest episode, we move our focus away from riders and onto the delicate juggling act of domestic team management, as we interview Matt Hallam, rider-manager at Crimson Performance – Orientation Marketing

Matt’s story is fascinating and one we’ve featured in-depth on our website over the last couple of years. The short version is that in 2017, Matt set up a new business, Crimson Performance, “a platform for power-based testing, training and professional bike fitting”. And to help promote the new business, he decided to set up an elite-level cycling team at the same time. 

Photo: Joe Cotterill

This was no straightforward task. For a start, he had no experience of running a bike team before. He was also doing this all by himself, alongside his day job of running his newly-established business. Oh, and he had just eight weeks to get things in place so that he could register a team for the 2018 season. Eight weeks. To find sponsors, to find a team of riders, to sort out paperwork, admin and lots more besides. Eight. Weeks.

He accomplished this challenge with aplomb, gradually building up the team’s experience and sponsorship levels to the point that they started 2020 as arguably one of the strongest and best-supported elite level teams in the UK. It felt like the team could be on the verge of a breakthrough season.

The most eye-catching changes for the team came in the form of some big new signings, including the capture of former Team Sky and Great Britain rider Joshua Edmondson was a real coup. But some of the other, less obvious, changes were just as noteworthy. Matt had brought in three new sponsors for the team, whilst also securing increased funding from existing sponsors. Impressive stuff at a time when sponsors seem to be leaving the support. In fact, the team had 45% more funding this season compared to last. This allowed him to have a bigger squad this year (14 men and 6 women), a more ambitious race programme (including races in Belgium and Spain) and better infrastructure to support the riders behind-the-scenes.

Not a bad achievement for someone who essentially runs the team in his spare time.

Photo: Joe Cotterill

But then of course lockdown hit and the team’s challenges changed from trying to compete with the UK’s best on the roads to maintaining motivation, keeping sponsors on board and thinking about how to creatively market the team without any road racing happening. 

In this interview, we go back over the team’s history, how Matt has grown things from small beginnings, how the team has addressed the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at them, what Matt thinks about the state of domestic road racing and the team’s plans for next season.

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Featured photo: Joe Cotterill

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