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On Thursday, the National Cycling League (NCL), a fledgling cycling league and series in the United States, announced a $7.5 million seed financing round backed by several professional athletes, including three-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal.
Other investors include a number of athletes and people who work adjacent to professional sports.
Will Ventures led the round with other backers including Founder Collective, Collab Capital, Impellent Ventures, Jalen Ramsey of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, Derwin James of the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers, Kevin Byard of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, Casey Hayward of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, former executive director of the NBA Players Association Michele Roberts, Rachel Lindsay — a podcaster and attorney known for her role in the Bachelor and Bachelorette TV series, and NFL analyst for Fox Sports 1 Emmanuel Acho.
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“The investment will accelerate the launch of the NCL Crit Racing Tour and two new co-ed professional cycling teams,” said Paris Wallace, CEO of the NCL.
“The inaugural 2023 season will consist of four criterium races through the most iconic streets of our four major partner cities: Miami Beach, Atlanta, Denver, and Washington D.C. In addition, we will field two co-ed city-based teams, bringing together world-class domestic and international racing talent; the goal is for our teams to instantly become the top teams in U.S. pro racing next year.”
The four-race series includes a prize total of $1 million. While there will be separate men’s and women’s races, the overall winner will be decided by totaling up the points earned by each team’s male and female lineups and adding them together.
As part of its pitch, the NCL has also been promoting, somewhat opaquely, a “groundbreaking technology platform.”
The organization gave a little more insight into what that means, saying that the NCL “seeks to deliver interactive access to pro athlete biometric and performance data for consumer applications in real time.”
The NCL said that this round of funding will be invested in developing this technology, which will possibly set up athletes with wearable tech that shares in real time biometric data like power output.
Many fans of professional cycling have called for data to be displayed onscreen during races, similar to how Formula One races share data overlays during races.
NCL vice president Kelly Staley recently discussed the project on an episode of VeloNews’ Bobby & Jens podcast.