Barras plea for fresh investors for pro cycling team

Tom Barras NFTO climbs up Scapegoat Hill out of Slaithwaite on the Tour de Yorkshire in 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Tom Barras NFTO climbs up Scapegoat Hill out of Slaithwaite on the Tour de Yorkshire in 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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Yorkshire cycling veteran Tom Barras is appealing for sponsors to keep his dream of running a professional team alive.

Barras was sporting director of NFTO Procycling last year, but after a blaze of publicity and investement three years ago, the title sponsor has pulled out of backing a team made up predominently of British riders.

The name of Barras – the son of Sid Barras who once beat Eddy Merckx and a winner of more than 100 races himself – is strong enough to have retained the loyalty of a team of 10 riders and a handful of support staff.

But to compete at contentinental level – which would include races at home and abroad – Barrass needs a year’s worth of sponsorship.

The going rate to sponsor a team for a year is £400,000.

“Whether that’s in one chunk or from a number of sponsors, it doesn’t matter,” said Barras.

“Whoever comes in with the most money would be the title sponsor.

“I have been talking to huge blue-chip companies with an awful lot to offer. It’s proving difficult to find that two-, three-, four-hundred grand we need to run a team.

“The deadline is mid-December, but if a sponsor comes up to me, presents me with a cheque for a hundred grand, then I have the links to be able to get us up and running by the first week of January.”

Ideally Barras would like to keep the team at the UCI Continental level, the third tier of the sport in which NFTO raced at, to a relative degree of success.

“There aren’t many British domestic teams who can go to RideLondon and win it, except us,” said Barras of a win achieved in 2014 by Sheffield’s Adam Blythe, who is the current British champion. And there aren’t many teams who can go to the Manx International GP {won by Ian Bibby] and put [Ben] Swift and [Pete] Kennaugh away, except us.

“That’s the blueprint. Isn’t it ridiculous that we can’t find a sponsor? I don’t mind stepping back a level but we want to remain a professional team.”

The news of Barras’s struggles comes in the same week that fellow British team OnePro – fronted by former England cricketer Matt Prior – announced they would be stepping down a level due to a funding shortfall.