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First take: British Cycling’s Elite Development Team status

The British Continental takes a look at British Cycling's plans for a new Elite Development Team category

Britsh Cycling has announced a new ‘Elite Development Team’ (EDT) status that it says will support “the best British talent on their journey towards success on the world stage”. This piece takes a closer look at what we know so far about the new category.

Where does EDT status fit into the current team classifications?

The EDT category will sit between UCI Continental status and British Cycling’s ‘club commercial’ and ‘club’ categories. Non-UCI teams like Tom Pidcock’s Trinity Racing team currently fall into the club commercial category, whilst ‘club’ teams include race teams like National Road Series regulars the Wales Racing Academy through to more conventional cycling clubs like the Kingston Wheelers, for example.

2019 Grasscrete Ryedale Grand Prix. Photo: James York

What’s the big idea?

British Cycling’s ambition is to support the creation of teams that meet minimum standards in terms of supporting rider development. They say that EDT status “will provide a new tier for ambitious national teams with a strong development focus, bridging the gap to UCI Continental level, and ensuring that riders are supported by a team of support staff, comprehensive race programmes, and appropriate guidance and mentoring.”

Erick Rowsell, British Cycling’s Elite Road Racing Manager, says, “We know that competing at a national level for young riders sitting outside of the current UCI Continental Teams can be difficult and expensive, which can prevent riders from achieving their best results on the bike. Through the introduction of Elite Development Team status we want to create an aspirational new step in the pathway and bridge the gap to ensure that riders are provided with the support they need as they find their feet in elite racing, and that there is a clear, progressive pathway for young riders all the way to the World Tour.”

In many ways, the new EDT status echoes proposals made by James Spragg on The British Continental back in 2019 (see table below).

Source: A proposal: how to reform the domestic road racing scene, James Spragg

What are the criteria?

Teams will be required to meet a set criteria to be awarded EDT status. Details are yet to be published, but British Cycling says the criteria will include: the number of young, British riders on the team; supporting riders’ expenses for national and international races; provision of equipment and dedicated support; and attendance at national road and circuit series events.

2019 Grasscrete Ryedale Grand Prix. Photo: James York

What’s in it for the teams?

British Cycling say the main benefits for teams will be:

  • Carrying “a stamp of recognition for the quality of support they offer to riders and the role they play in developing the best British talent”
  • Additional exposure through British Cycling digital and social media channels
  • Guaranteed entry into national series events, and, over time
  • Access to education courses and workshops for team riders and staff.

Erick Rowsell also hopes that the recognition it gives teams will help to attract sponsorship. He says, “it will offer teams added recognition and status as they look to engage with new riders and sponsors”.

Which teams will apply?

It’s too early to say yet, as the announcement has only just been made. But British Cycling say that both men’s and women’s teams will be encouraged to apply.

Erick Rowsell also says that the status is the result “the result of discussions which have taken place with teams and riders over several months”, implying it’s a concept that several teams will have already bought into.

2019 Grasscrete Ryedale Grand Prix. Photo: James York

What difference will it make?

It’s too early to say. The devil will in the detail, and British Cycling will publish further information on how teams can attain EDT status “in the coming weeks”.

The first test will be seeing how many teams come forward. Teams will want to be convinced that the benefits of achieving the status outweigh the additional administration and running costs that EDT status will entail. There are already many well-run elite-level teams in the domestic peloton; will they view EDT as a valuable seal of approval for what they already do? Will other teams view the criteria as too restricting for them? Will they think it’s worth the money, when instead they could perhaps be using the money to take their riders abroad for UCI racing? Will more ambitious teams simply skip EDT status altogether and jump to UCI Continental level, at which the criteria are actually less stringent for British teams?

There are more questions than answers at the moment. It will certainly be one to watch, with Erick Rowsell believing that this new category is “a much-needed step at a critical point in the pathway” and is something that British Cycling is “looking to build on in the future”.

Read more

A proposal: how to reform the domestic road racing scene