Middelkerke was the final race of the season for NEXT Wyman. It’s been a blast, and I’m proud of what Amira has achieved. A pro win, a championship medal and her first selection of GB in the U23 World Champs. I think we could write a book on what both Amira and myself have learnt and another book on what we still need to work on. It’s really proved my thoughts that development isn’t a one-season process. There needs to be a longer process to development, increased support and a supportive environment that spans several seasons.
To move out of regional or national level races and make an impact on international races takes a new mentality. You need to side step, learn, and in most areas go back to the drawing board. Often those looking in from the outside don’t understand the reason to side step, or why having a set of shiny bikes doesn’t just give you wings. It’s not simple, but it’s worth it when the rider embraces those opportunities and methods. It’s quite inspiring to see up and coming riders push so hard to reach the top.
So where do we go from here. The answer is I’m not sure. Running a program like this, costs real money. It’s not free. Over the next three weeks, which will be largely off the bike for Amira, she’ll be seeing and speaking to experts in several areas, all arranged by the team:
Women’s Health Specialists
This program is about having the chances the top few riders get, and getting your chance to prove your ability in a stress free environment.
Funding this program isn’t easy, and I’m not one for crowd funding. If we were going to a one off event, I’d certainly crowd fund it, but this is not the pathway I want to take. I also want to add further riders, with several riders at the World Championships speaking to me as they are in desperate need of support for the coming season.
It costs upwards of €20,000 to run this program for one rider. This is significantly less than major road programs, and provides a comprehensive package for a rider. My sponsors have been extremely generous in getting this program off the ground, and without the ongoing support of Jerry at NEXT and the amazing guys at Kona, there wouldn’t be a program in the first place, but now we need to expand. Since moment one, Giro, Verge, Twenty20, Wickwerks, Kogel, Hope, Challenge and MD Flooring have been totally on board. We’ve loved working with them and during the season we were grateful to have Feedback join the team. This group of businesses have gone above and beyond to support me and the sport and I can’t thank them enough.
The costs of adding more riders for me to chase my goals in developing the sport however can’t always come down to one set of people. I’ve been looking at how we structure the program going forward to it’s most likely to see an altered set up. The riders need to come under one group, but most likely race in diversified clothing reflecting the sponsors that are making their program a reality.
I see a few ways of doing this:
Multiple Sponsors: We take on 10 partners, at €2k each, who come in to support 1 rider. It could be linked to the their product that we also use, or to other forms of return like a day at the races. For every 10 partners we have sign up, we add a rider. One Partner could of course of course back several of these partnerships.
Title Partnership: One, two or three partners, take on the full €20,000 budget themselves, giving them title partnership of one riders season.
Combination: A combination of the above, which may prove more affordable for many companies.
This program is not restricted to one jersey design, or one rider, or one nationality. Every rider has their own needs, and their own ideal pathway, and very individual requirements in order to progress. It’s also not restricted to just “young riders”. We can have many different partnerships, programs and identities, all under one roof and under my watchful eye.
Since the beginning of the season, NEXT Wyman has had over 500,000 twitter impressions. It has growing audience every month, and engagements are increasing. In the same period, I’ve had over 2million impressions, and the brand partnership of the two accounts is increasing. We expect to see big rises in these numbers during the 2017/18 season. The audience for these programs is real.
Will these pathways prove successful? I don’t know, but I’ll never know if I don’t ask. I haven’t engaged a sponsorship agency, due to the £20,000 upfront costs with no guarantee of success. I haven’t got the luxury of being able to afford this.
All I have is my passion to help allow a few riders to reach their potential, and be able to achieve their goals in cycling’s greatest discipline.
If you’re interested, or know of any business leaders who might be interested in support this project please feel free to contact me: