Steps in professional cycling: Hiring riders

Theo Maucher

We are often asked how we will go about starting the pro team. Theo Maucher, one of the founders of BEAT who has a wealth of experience in professional cycling, will address these issues in his blog series. Today we begin to explain the procedure of engaging riders.

Quite often the process of contracting riders is largely hidden. In many teams, the general manager makes the hiring decisions with some input from sports directors, agents and other sources. In other teams, a more systematic evaluation is made by management, sports and marketing staff before hiring a rider. Often, the focus tends to be on short-term successes (UCI points) rather than on building a team for the long term.

At BEAT, we aim to operate transparently and with an eye to the future of the team. We are currently developing our strategy for the pro team, as we will explain in greater depth in further blog posts and brainstorm sessions.

Once we present the strategy to the members of the club, we will start the hiring process. The first step is to create a long list of potential riders. Names will be suggested by BEAT management, the performance group and club members. Most riders will be in the age range of 18 to 25, but they may also be younger (if they demonstrate exceptional talent) or older (if they bring key experience). Generally, the older the rider, the higher the expected performance level. We typically refer to the younger riders as talents; the older riders are professionals, but in the end everyone needs to be very talented.

After collecting additional background information, filling in a talent grid and carrying out further evaluations to see whether the riders fit well within the club (if they have the “BEAT factor”), we narrow the selection to a short list. We need different types of riders for different roles in the team (like in soccer, where you don’t need five goalkeepers). Preferably we will fill these positions with our club talents, but sometimes we will have to look outside the club. If a rider on the short list fits an open position, he becomes a target rider and we begin negotiations.

Some riders are represented by agents, while others handle their own contract negotiations. If the rider has an ongoing contract, we will inform his current team of our interest. Parallel to the negotiation process, we will further evaluate the training data provided by the rider and have him undergo medical tests. 

If all the obstacles are overcome and the rider agrees to the team’s terms – and, importantly, the rider’s desired salary fits into the salary range available for the position – the contract will be prepared for signing. The content of a rider contract is not particularly complicated, as the UCI rules specify the model the contracts need to follow. Some administrative regulations and the minimum salary must, of course, be respected as well.

The UCI allows the recruitment of new riders only during the transfer period between August 1 and the end of the year. Although teams often engage in negotiations earlier in the year, no one involved in the deal may publicize the signing of a rider contract until the transfer window opens.