This autumn has seen the demise of three major cycling teams, leaving many riders out of work and looking for new contracts for next year.
British teams JLT Condor and One Pro Cycling, plus Irish outfit Aqua Blue Sport have ceased to run, with One Pro deciding to set up a women’s squad and Aqua Blue leaving the sport.
JLT Condor announced on Monday that they would be leaving the sport after 11 years.
One Pro rider Pete Williams, winner of multiple Tour of Britain jerseys and wearer of the most aggressive rider jersey in this year’s Tour of Yorkshire, finds himself out of a ride for next year, unless another team picks him up.
But with so many riders on the market, competition is high.
“I’ve been in touch with a few teams and, hopefully, something will be sorted soon,” said the Skipton rider.
“There’s so many riders on the market now, though, if a sponsor stepped up and moved quickly they could get a team in the Tour of Yorkshire next year.”
Williams had been with One Pro Cycling for four years, since their inception as the team fronted by former England cricketer Matt Prior. “The model of the team was supposed to be sustainable. We weren’t just relying on one or two big sponsors, but to get that model to work you need time and money and, ultimately, the teams need sponsorship,” said Williams.
When asked about what teams might want to do to engage more with sponsors, Williams suggested that the teams need to do more in terms of giving back.
He said: “I think cycling has to modernise a bit, to work better with sponsors, maybe putting on experiences for sponsors or their clients to come and be part of a team.
“There are teams doing that but it needs to be done on a regular basis.”
In their second season, One Pro stepped up a level to the second tier of professional cycling, but due to sponsorship issues had to drop back down a level with a smaller squad.
For Williams, the writing was on the wall.
He continued: “The aim was always to get back up to a higher level, but it was clear that as we approached the Tour of Britain there wasn’t anything in place with sponsors, so we had an idea that we might have to look elsewhere to secure a contract for 2019.”