Rabobank & The Internationalisation of Cycling

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Dutch bank Rabobank has published a report on the internationalisation of cycling. It’s worth a read and I agree with a lot of what it says. In summary, it says that the sport has been opened up to new countries and where success occurs in these newcomers, it can be built on to develop the sport.

But I think the report dwells too much on cycling as a national concept. For example elite cycling in Holland is dominated by Rabobank. Promising kids are dragged into the lab by a Rabobank-funded programme and if their power-to-weight ratio is impressive then they are made an offer that’s hard to refuse. This one-tracked detection system discovered the likes of Robert Gesink, Bauke Mollema and Lars Boom. But this isn’t a system that’s Dutch, it’s a system that’s Rabobank: it’s a corporate ploy to sift through thousands of hopefuls in order to find The Next Big Thing.

Similarly, when a cyclist succeeds, it is often not because of a national system. Contador did not receive special Spanish coaching and Luxembourg may sit high in the international rankings but that’s just because of one family, not one federation. In other words, luck.

But the report correctly identifies state-funding as one big influence, state-supported track cycling has provided rich pickings for Australia and Britain but for me, this is because they don’t offer much of an alternative for a budding cyclist. A decent pursuit rider in France or Italy will find more support and money from local road racing squads.

All in all the Rabobank report makes you compare nations but for me, the sport is subject as much to luck and corporate influence as national matters.

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{ 2 comments }

Wayne August 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm

A corporate ploy?

A bit dramatic, don't you think?

TheInnerRing August 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Not really, Rabo want a winner for the Amstel and in July and so they pursue this in a single-minded way. Remember, this isn't the national federation at work, it's a scheme funded by a bank.

I've nothing against that but the scheme is designed to sift through thousands of juniors and to hold the best for Rabo.

Not that it always works. Teejay Van Garderen and Michael Kreder both left Rabo to join HTC and Garmin respectively, Rabo paid for their development but lost them in the end.

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