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One Pro Cycling drops to UCI Continental level after bike sponsor withdraws

CEO and former England cricketer Matt Prior tries to put positive spin on bad news

One Pro Cycling, after Team Sky Great Britain’s highest ranked men’s professional cycling team, is to drop down from UCI Professional Continental level after its bike sponsor Factor Bikes, which recently announced it would supply AG2R-La Mondiale next season, withdrew its backing.

> Sneak peek: AG2R’s Factor O2 race bike

Launched two years ago by former England cricketer Matt Prior, the news will come as a blow to the team which made its debut in cycling’s second tier just this season, enabling it to get wildcard entries to races such as the Tour de Pologne.

Team CEO Prior, who kept wicket for England in 79 test matches, scoring seven centuries, tried to put a positive spin on moving back to UCI Continental status.

“It has been a very tough decision to make and has not been taken lightly,” he said. “Unfortunately, things have changed at the last minute but that is the nature of sport, business and life. All we can do now is look forward to what will hopefully be another successful year of racing.

“Whatever level we ride at, the team’s values of accessibility, hard work, professionalism and respect will remain at its core and is something that I am extremely proud of. The One Pro Cycling management team are more motivated than ever to keep moving forward and take this team back up to Pro Continental and beyond in 2018.

“I understand that some observers will see this as a step backwards but I merely see it as just another step in the One Pro Cycling story. The aims, goals and ambitions have not changed and we are all driven to one day see this team racing in the Tour de France.

“We have very promising things happening behind-the-scenes with our brand and I hope to be announcing an exciting new bike partner on a three-year term shortly.”

Prior added: “At this point I would like to thank our members, fans and sponsors who have supported us so loyally to date. We hope to make you even prouder in the years to come.”

There are likely to be implications of reverting to UCI Continental level for the staff of the team, whose roster includes 2011 Milan-San Remo winner Matt Goss, signed from MTN-Qhubeka ahead of the 2016 season, and former British national champion Kristian House.

Under UCI regulations, a Professional Continental team “must employ at least 14 riders, 2 team managers and 3 other staff (paramedical assistants, mechanics, etc.) on a full-time basis for the whole registration year.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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