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From GCN to GMBN: three new pro riders join Play Sports Group’s presenting team


Play Sports Network has announced three new additions to its market-leading road cycling and MTB YouTube channels: road racers Chris Opie and James Lowsley-Williams join the Global Cycling Network (GCN), and the newest face on the Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN) and Electric Global Mountain Bike Network (EMBN) is ‘shredding legend’ Chris Smith.

PSN’s channels have a current total of 931 million video views, with road cycling channel GCN quickly growing since its 2013 debut to become the world’s largest cycling network with over 1.3 million subscribers.

Mountain bike channel GMBN recently hit 800,000 subscribers and is still growing fast with over 25 million minutes of content watched each month; while sister channel EMBN is said to reflect ‘the amazing growth in electric mountain bike riding with an impressive 30,000 subscribers since launch.’

Following on from the recent appointment of multiple Olympic medallist and British national champion Emma Pooley, GCN’s two more new presenters have a road racing pedigree. Chris Opie and James Lowsley-Williams are both successful and experienced on the international and domestic road race circuits. And joining GMBN and EMBN is the ‘hugely experienced, super talented and undoubtedly brave’ dirt and freeride rider Chris Smith.

All three join the Play Sports Network as permanent members of the presenting teams and bring with them a depth of experience, contacts, racing and technical knowledge along with fresh presenting ability to the channels. They are further strengthening the team as PSN heads into an ‘exciting plan of ambitious new, deeper content strands that will see significant international audience growth and further development.’

James ‘Hank’ Lowsley-Williams was watching Chris Hoy take gold at the Beijing Olympics when he set his sights on becoming a professional cyclist. Following a stint in the UK Youth Cycling team, he went on to be part of the RideLondon-winning NFTO Pro Cycling squad and has been riding at UCI Continental level for the last seven years. He has competed in the Tour of Britain, the Tour of Yorkshire and Ireland’s leading race, the An Post Rás, along with the UK Tour Series multiple times.

James Lowsley-Williams said “Winning the OVO Tour Series with Canyon Eisberg in May makes this the right time to announce that I will be stepping down from professional cycling and stepping up to a new career with GCN as a presenter. Everyone at GCN has been fantastic in helping me make the transition and I look forward to working alongside a great team of people and promoting a sport that I love around the world.”

Former professional cyclist Chris Opie began cycling competitively at the age of 10 and progressed on to lead the British National Junior RR Series aged 18 in 2005. He spent much of his early professional career racing in Holland and Belgium, where the flatter terrain suited his end-of-race sprints. He has also raced all over the world, from the Arctic Circle in Norway to the Sahara Desert in Libya, podiuming with a number of teams including Rapha Condor–JLT and ONE Pro Cycling prior to joining his most recent team, Canyon Eisberg.

Chris Opie said “Having just retired from competition it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to put 20 years of experience to good use. I hope to share my passion for racing, training and all aspects of cycling and I really look forward to the challenge of a new career ahead. Everyone has been very welcoming, really helpful and encouraging. I’m really excited to be joining GCN!”



GMBN and EMBN welcome mountain biking legend Chris Smith. With a wealth of experience spanning the last two decades, Chris has seen the sport grow from strength to strength. He remains dedicated to advancing his skills and knowledge across all disciplines, and to sharing that with PSN’s off-road channels’ growing audiences.
Chris Smith said “I’m super excited to be joining the team at GMBN/EMBN. I see it as the perfect way to further my career to the next level joining such a legendary line-up of presenters… I’ve ridden professionally for nearly 20 years across all bike disciplines, all over the world, Recently, e-bikes have been my big love and they have revolutionised the way I ride so I have a big passion for those as well as my regular trail bikes. I can’t wait to get cracking with the team and producing some great content for the viewers!”

Simon Wear, founder and CEO of Play Sports Network, said “We are delighted to welcome Chris, James and Chris to our growing team. Their experience right from grass-roots level all the way to top level cycling in their respective disciplines will give the presenting team greater depth and variety of experiences that we can pass onto our growing family of loyal fans in some amazing new content we’ve got planned in the coming months – it’s great to have all three on board.”

Play Sports Network is the world’s leading creator of cycling digital video distributed on YouTube and Facebook. It has built a leadership position in content delivery on these platforms, reporting 68% year-on-year growth in video views to over 395m in 2017.

Play Sports operates six market-leading YouTube channels, Global Cycling Network, Global Mountain Bike Network, Global Triathlon Network, Electric Mountain Bike Network, GCN Tech and GMBN Tech with over 2 million subscribers. Together they have accumulated a total of 5,471 years and 136 days of watch time, 7.5m video likes and an average of 30 million monthly views, creating the world’s largest online video cycling community.



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