From a low key meeting in 2003 to an event that has seen Hoy, Vos and Cav ride it, Revolution has gone from strength-to-strength and now has its own London Velodrome finale. FACE MD James Pope speaks with BikeBiz...
The current Revolution Series is just weeks away from its Round Five conclusion at – for the first time – the Lee Valley Velodrome, aka the London 2012 Olympics velodrome.
It’s a fitting venue for the FACE Partnership-organised track race series. After all it has seen the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish MBE, Victoria Pendleton CBE and Marianne Vos ride it over the past decade – the Revolution Series celebrated its tenth anniversary last November, days away from the Second Round in Glasgow.
Despite putting the finishing touches on the event in the final weeks before Round Five, FACE boss James Pope took time out to speak with BikeBiz about the Revolution.
“It’s the first event in the Lee Valley Velodrome since the Olympics. It’s a nice finale for the Series and we’re getting the chance to set the standard in the venue post-Olympics. We’ll be making the most of it.
“It’s great to make the Revolution Series more national too. We started in Manchester, headed up to Glasgow and now we’re coming down to London. It’s all shaping up nicely.”
There’s a slightly revamped format for Round Five, but it hasn’t proved an obstacle for ticket sales, as Pope explains: “We sold out for the Saturday a long time ago and after explaining the Friday format, which there were a few unknowns about, we have now sold out for those tickets too over the last weekend. There’s only hospitality packages left (at time of press) and we’ve put together some really special informal and formal packages.”
Laying the groundwork for snapping up the London 2012 venue took two years, Pope reveals: “We slowly built up the relationship with Lee Valley and after coming to our other events they got the confidence in us, that we would make it a success. As the leading cycling venue in London it was important for us to get the deal. We’re now focused on making it as good as it can possible be.
“We’re linked with the London Velodrome for three years and we’re planning two events in London for the next season. Hopefully we’ll be making the announcement very soon – we have the venues locked down and we’ll be back at Glasgow, Manchester and London again. We just need to work on a few fine points with British Cycling and then we’ll announce it. Tickets will go on sale soon after too.”
Seeding the Revolution
Back in November – when the Glasgow Revolution took place – the Series celebrated its tenth anniversary. “Yes, it’s been around for a long time. We’ve had to keep reinventing it and evolving it to keep it fresh.
“When I look back to that initial conversation we had with Sir David Brailsford and the National Cycling Centre it’s come a long way.
“It has two aims – to produce a competitive environment for track cyclists to develop their talents as well as to put bums on seat and give the public some thrilling track cycling entertainment. We pulled it together and it’s been selling out for the last few years and we’ve played a part in nurturing talent, like Steven Burke who went on to win gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics after winning the competition.
“We looked to the content of the 6 Day races and we tried to put the best bits into the Revolution Series, with a real elite element to it. That has developed and we’ve now got UCI Class One ranking.”
Broadcasting the Revolution
TV broadcasts has seen the Revolution extend its audience in the UK and, if Pope has his way, overseas too via a digital strategy.
“It’s the third year we’ve been televised. For two years we had a broadcast deal with ITV4 and now we’re with BT Sport. It’s been a massive learning curve coming from a spectator event to a televised event.
“BT Sport has shaken up the market – you see what’s happened with the rights market between them and Sky. They came to us looking for interesting content and we’ve been pleasantly surprised because we didn’t expect our figures to compare well with previous viewing numbers initially after the change over, but we’ve seen the audience hold and begin to grow. Scheduling is important – BT Sport has repeated coverage on Saturday afternoons and we’ve retained six figure audiences. We’re really pleased with the results.”
In terms of broadcasting, Face is keen to develop the possibilities of live streaming.
“For the London finale we’re going to stream the event on our YouTube channel and there’ll be a feed on The Telegraph site website. It’s a big thing for us.
“We’ve had lots of feedback from overseas fans wanting to watch the Series and typically with broadcast deals you are limited with territories, so we now have this digital strategy for the Revolution Series.
“Online streaming gives you metrics that are accurate and we hope our viewers will extend beyond the UK. We’re chatting with YouTube about what we can do with Google Hangouts to make it as engaging as possible.”
If you’re keen on seeing the finale in person you’ll have to opt for one of the VIP and hospitality packages.
“We’ve got Madison boxes – private sections of the grandstands – and we’ve more formal seated tables of ten aimed at the corporate market. The more informal option is an enhanced version of the Race Club offering we run at the other events.
“We’re hoping we have found the right balance – we’ll see how it goes and then we’ll see how things should progress.”
After the Revolution, FACE attention will turn to the fast approaching London Nocturne. “Nocturne goes from strength-to-strength and it’ll be full steam ahead on that once Revolution concludes. We’re currently looking at how we can cross-fertilise the audiences of Revolution and the Nocturne. It’s staggering that in three months there are two major cycle events in London.”
Round Five runs Friday March 14th and Saturday 15th at the Lee Valley Velopark.