Do you know the three things you need to secure a contract in pro-cycling?

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Are you thinking about how quickly Women’s Cycling is evolving? The number of women’s teams (globally) has increased by over 40% in the last five years alone. Media interest in the Women’s World Tour is on the rise. Some of the most progressive organizations in the sport are being led by women for women. Logjams exist in men’s cycling that don’t in women’s.

Women can transform the sport, that’s pretty cool to think about

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Gaby, Steve and Linda did a great job discussing the nuances of Agents and recruitment. At the top of the sport teams employ over 80 people (athletes & staff) – and getting noticed is difficult. For teams that are big or small, it’s a complex job with lots of room to improve. The panel discuss some great ways to help athletes stand out.

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We brought in some of Canada’s most knowledgeable people in pro road cycling to answer your killer questions. We chatted about:

  • The structure of the sport (globally and in North America)
  • How teams work, especially recruiting
  • What Agents do, don’t do, and when to use one
  • Personal branding, representing you, your team, and sponsors
  • How the sport is changing, right now, why that’s important

#conversation panel guests included Linda Jackson, Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin, Alison Testroete, and Steve Bauer. The #conversation was hosted by BTG director Kev Field. Some of Canada’s top current riders were on hand watching along.

Kev had a tech glitch and 3 information slides didn’t show, here they are:


The general structure of the sport is important to know. Athletes should download the UCI Rules (road) and Joint Agreements to keep on top of how the sport works, and athlete’s rights


Men’s cycling has 3 tiers of teams, racing across 6 continental circuits. Making it to the top pro teams is about getting into the global top 10% of over 2,300 riders racing in 176 teams UCI Conti Teams all over the world


Women’s cycling is changing really, really fast. It’s hard to keep up, it’s exciting, and something to watch!!

The new 2-tier structure will professionalize women’s cycling, making incomes and career stability “real” for female pro cyclists. It’s about time 😘


Snapshots from the #conversation

Teams & how they work – UCI Teams, even the smallest, are often looking at long lists of athletes: 40-50 or more, for only a few spots. Larger teams are approached by hundreds (see the #’s above) and filter down to a more serious “look-list”. Athletes need to use resources like ProCycling Stats & the UCI to get key contacts and understand things about the teams they want to join, like: who’s staying; who’s leaving (spots potentially available); types of riders the team may need, kinds of races the team performs in, and who to contact. This helps athletes understand “how they fit in”. Athletes need to tailor their approach to the team to demonstrate they know its about the “team” and team’s goals and team mission. Linda and Steve explain this really well → here

Athletes need to be polite and persistent in building a relationship with teams, understanding that teams “recruit long”. It may take 1-2+ seasons to build a relationship that results in getting recruited, don’t give up if you don’t hear back or get a “no” on your first ask. Kevin explains this → here

Agents – work across all levels of cycling now. They can help with a range of services along with helping to find teams and negotiate rider contracts. They can help with immigration, taxation, personal endorsements or more. Athletes need to understand the fees & services an agent or agency offers. It’s important that the right fit is right for you as an athlete. You still need to be very proactive in working with an agent to seek out teams directly. Teams will work with many agents and team GM’s, or sport directors will have mixed opinions on agents. This creates a situation where it’s still really important for the team + athlete to have direct communication and establish a relationship through the recruiting process. The best teams are looking for a “culture-fit” as much as an athlete who can perform. Gabby, Linda and Steve talk about this really well → here and here

Personal Branding – We live in an “always on” world where social media is really prevalent. Alison talks about the importance of having a strategy and real focus on how you use social media. She’s a fan of Cal Newport and his book on Deep Work. Social is a tool, perhaps not the most important tool. Master one platform and move on rather than taking a broad/shotgun approach. Athletes still need to think about developing their personal network, nurture that network, its valuable and email is still a very important part of the toolkit. Gabby jumps in to discuss the variability of how social and owned meda (web) are leveraged by teams. Some teams are doing a really great job of telling stories online with their athletes, others not so much. More → here

The killer question – to sum it there’s a killer question about the most important thing to know in the Cycling Business. We won’t give that away and encourage you to watch here!

References

* Associations/groups officially recognized by the UCI, working with the various UCI Commissions, including the Pro Cycling Council (PCC)


Aired:
Duration:
For who:
Tue Sep. 7, 2021
1.5 hr
Young/developing athletes, coaches, all welcome
Replay

More about the Panel

Linda Jackson – is a Canadian Olympian, last Canadian woman to medal in the Road Race at the World Championships, and the owner of the longest-running women’s trade team in North America. Linda is in the process of taking her Tibco-SVB team to the World Tour level in 2022 and beyond. BTG has worked with Linda since our inception, and Linda supported many Canadian women in their journey through pro-sport.

Steve Bauer – is one of the most accomplished Canadian cyclists of all time. A pioneer who won Olympic and World Championship medals, wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, and featured in sport’s biggest classics. In 2011 Steve led the development of Canada’s first Pro Continental men’s team. Since then he’s been the senior Sport Director or head of performance for two World Tour teams. He is one of seven Canadians who are UCI credentialed Sport Directors. Steve currently works with the Premier Tech-Astana World Team.

Gabrielle Pilote-Fortin – is a BTG fund original athlete and multi-time Canadian Champion. Gaby has ridden as a support rider for some of the biggest team’s in Europe in the past 8 years. She’s an athlete who has become very networked throughout both women’s and men’s cycling. She had plans to start of Sports Agency with her partner Kasper Asgreen prior to the pandemic putting a pause on those plans. She knows many of the sport’s top agents and how they work.

Alison Testroete – is the 2009 elite Canadian road Champion. She retired from cycling in 2011 after riding with European team Skill-Koga, an earlier version of the current World Team DSM. Alison stayed in Europe started a successful bike touring business, the Lucca Cycling Club, and recently launched the Athlete to Enterprise initiative helping athletes. BTG has recently partnered with Alison to provide three athlete’s scholarships to her program because we think it’s so awesome. Appy here

Kev Field – hosted the #conversation. A BTG director, also one of seven Canadian UCI credentialed Sport Directors. He’s worked with 5 UCI trade teams and was recently Head of Strategy at Cycling Canada where he led an expert multi-disciplinary team that developed Cycling’s 10-year strategy. He worked alongside Steve in 2011-2012 on Canada’s first Pro Continental men’s team. Outside of cycling, he’s a web entrepreneur who’s co-founded 5 companies, most recently The Feed. As a sport director he’s worked with 3 generations of Canada’s top female and male road athletes and mentored many through the sport.

 


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