Fancy a career cycling? We catch up with Becky Frewing, Race Team Manager at One Pro Cycling, to get the lowdown on running a professional team.
Becky Frewing has worked with One Pro cycling since the team was co-founded by England cricketer Matt Prior in September 2014. The team is licenced at UCI Continental level team and has a full race calendar for 2015 including the Tour Series this month.
Warning: this workload is not for the faint hearted! TWC: What does your job involve?
“ My job has varied massively since the team was founded. I was part of setting up the team so we spent a lot of time creating our brand and choosing a name. I didn’t appreciate how difficult this was going to be and there was a lot of time spent in a meeting room with flip charts!
I was then responsible for signing riders, completing contracts, recruiting staff, searching for product, equipment and financial sponsors, find a service-course (team command centre) and set that up.
Up until the last few months I had to make sure the riders had everything they need. I often joke that it’s like having 12 children! You are pretty much on call 24/7 and I can count on my fingers how many days off I’ve had since September.
Since the recruitment of our Sports Director, Matt Winston I have stepped back from the general team side of things and have taken on a more Account Management and Business Development role. One of the main reasons for setting up this team was to make this a sustainable business, so this is hugely important for the growth of the team.
It’s also something I really enjoy. I want to make sure that all our sponsors feel like that have a partnership and relationship with us, and it’s not just a one-way thing.
TWC: Which career path led you to this job?
“ My first sports role was working within the Sales and Corporate team of a Premiership Football Club. I then worked for Geoff Thomas, a former footballer who set up a charity after being diagnosed with Leukaemia.
We organised a fundraising event which saw a group of riders take on the full route of the Tour de France two days behind the professionals. That was my first step into the cycling industry.
I then went on to work for Nigel Mansell who later set up the team UK Youth. Recently I have worked for the IG Sigma Sport Team and NFTO before setting up ONE Pro Cycling in September.
TWC: Would you describe your job as glamourous?
“ There are glamorous moments, but they are few and far between. A couple of weeks ago we were invited by our sponsors F&F to a fashion show to launch their Autumn/Winter range at the Savoy, which was fantastic.
The hardest thing about my job would have to be the time that it takes up and that I find it quite hard to completely switch off. From March to September I very rarely get a weekend off but it’s also part and parcel of it. I’ve been in this role for a good few years now so my friends and family fully support me. They joke and say I come out of hibernation in the winter!
TWC: What in your job gives you the greatest pleasure?
“ Definitely the people I work with! Given the amount of time we spend away it’s so important that we all get on and in this team I can honestly say we all do. It becomes a huge part of your social life as much as anything else.
TWC: Do any of the riders have unusual requests on race day or event ‘rituals’ that you help them with?
“ They all have very different ways to approach races. Some are very quiet and you know that they just need their things around them and to leave them to it. Others prefer to have the interaction and the jokiness before. It can vary depending on the race and perhaps who we are looking for a result from. The main trait I think that is important from me is patience and flexibility!
TWC: Would you say that one of your roles is to make sure the riders have to do as little as possible for themselves, so that they can concentrate on racing?
“ I’d definitely agree with that. From a management point of view we would never want a rider to come back after a race and say he didn’t get the result he wanted because his equipment wasn’t right, or because he felt he was pre-occupied beforehand.
Ultimately you can only do so much but ONE Pro Cycling is all about performance. We employ a Performance Coach so we are giving the riders every opportunity to be as good as they can possibly be: the right equipment, coaching, staff, nutrition etc. They have to then turn that into results on the road.
We are lucky at ONE Pro Cycling in that we have all areas covered staff wise but because I am used to working with smaller teams that haven’t necessary had that luxury I can’t walk past an empty bottle without doing something with it, putting suitcases in vehicles, making coffee etc.
TWC: So where do you draw the line (at the laundry, for instance?)
“ I don’t mind putting a wash on to be honest! For a team to work properly it’s important everyone understands each other’s roles and will get stuck in where needed. If I know I can help someone who will otherwise have a late night I will always get my hands dirty and that can be said for all the management team. I’m just lucky we have the right people working for us!
TWC: And you’re also involved with PR and sponsorship?
“ I manage all the relationships with our current sponsors. Obviously F&F are our main sponsor so I spend a lot of time with them. It’s been fantastic having a new brand involved with cycling and they are hugely motivated to make the relationship a success, which is great.
We employed a PR agency when we first set the team up so I worked with them on the team’s launch. We had huge media coverage and with Matt Prior involved in the team it’s important that is all done in the right way. His profile can bring so much to us when used properly.
I now look after all the PR and media requests on a day to day basis and around races. So at the recent Tour de Yorkshire I accompanied Pete Williams to the pre-event presentation and ensured the team got some media coverage from the attending press.
I also manage our relationship with Fusion Media who look after all our social media. This plays such a big part nowadays and I believe we do this really well.
TWC: How is One Pro different to other teams?
“ Having worked for a few teams in the past I really wanted to do something different with this team and for me it was important that it was sustainable. Too many teams solely rely on corporate sponsorship and the name and look and feel of a team can change dramatically. It’s hard for people to really form an allegiance to a team this way.
It was important for us that ONE Pro Cycling will always keep it’s name, brand, logos etc. Manchester United for example will always be Manchester United, they will always wear red but their shirt sponsor can change so we are adapting a similar model in cycling.
There is also a massive gap between elite cycling and participation and we are trying to bridge that gap. Being able to become a member of the team and be part of its growth is a massive factor in this. We launched a Founder Membership scheme back in February, which was hugely successful. We now have a standard membership package as well as family and junior memberships.
It’s important that we offer something for everyone and really make people feel part of the team and that was obvious during the recent Tour de Yorkshire. We had so many members come up to the bus to meet us, wearing their t-shirts, having pictures with the team and cheering us on and we hope that this will continue to grow.
TWC: Is there a One Pro women’s team on the horizon?
“ As the name suggests we are all about everyONE and we want to support cycling as a whole within the UK. Women’s cycling has seen a massive growth in recent years and it is certainly on our agenda to be part of that in future years. Watch this space!
Find out more here at OneProCycling.