Capital Absence

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Roma Maxima

Roma Maxima has fallen off the calendar for 2015. It was one of the few races left in a capital city. France, Italy, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands are all seen as cycling’s heartlands but all suffer from a dwindling if not total absence of pro racing in their capital cities. Of the three grand tours last year only the Tour de France visited its capital city.

Various national capitals do have a bike race but that’s it, often just one pro race a year if they’re lucky. Yet these are the biggest cities with ready audiences only the sport stays away for the rest of the year. This is a problem as the sport needs sponsors and its absence from major cities implies a lack of visibility in the very places where decisions are taken, views are formed and deals are signed.

Tour de France Paris

Major races end in small places like Sanremo, Roubaix, Oudenaarde rather than Rome, Paris or Brussels. A century ago Paris had too many races to list. Of course the Tour de France finishes in Paris but it’s the exception, a one-off and the only bike race to visit the French capital during the whole year. Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours and Paris-Nice all start way out of Paris but cling to the Parisian label, perhaps it’s just history but it’s also a grand lie. Last year’s Paris-Tours started in Bonneval, a full 120km to the west of Paris.

Even in cycling-mad Belgium the capital is light on races with numerous events to the west in Flanders and east in Wallonia but just the diminished Brussels Cycling Classic, once Paris-Brussels, left. London seems to be the exception with the Tour of Britain and the Ride London Classic bolstered by the Tour de France visit last summer.

London gets more racing than Paris, Madrid, Rome and others

As a rule, each capital has one race but not much more, for example the Berlin Velothon is the one event in Germany with more races elsewhere. Worse, races are dropping off the calendar. Roma Maxima has vanished, depriving us of the wonderful imagery of the Colosseum. RCS hope to bring it back but it’s always twice as hard to resurrect a race that’s vanished from the calendar than it is to run it for another year. Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid vanished last year but is promised to be back for 2015, hopefully it happens.

Easier said than done
It’s not all bad, after all we long to see a race on a cobbled track or a remote mountain pass rather than a boring boulevard or a city centre and if these are hard to ride on, they’re easier to stage a race on. Logistics mean it’s hard if not impossible to close the roads and capital cities are so large that closing roads for a race means disruption for a lot of people. Sometimes a race just can’t visit a city any more says former Tour de France technical director Jean-François Pescheux:

“The roadside landscape has been changed incredibly by the will of public authorities to put chicanes, speedbumps and roundabouts. All this makes a new shift for the Tour because it’s impossible, for example, to have a stage finish in Nantes or Lorient. There are some towns that have been modified so much that the Tour can never go back.”
Liberation

As Pescheux points out, if the sport can’t visit the capital cities it often can’t reach the centre of other cities either which helps explain why some Tour de France finishes head for a city or large town only to finish on the outskirts next to a drab sports complex rather than the historic and charming centre ville.

It all makes for a provincial and even rural sport where the sport skirts around cities. Yes you can watch many races on TV but what of those that are not broadcast? If the major races struggle, imagine the challenges facing amateur and local events?

Conclusion
Cycling races cover much of Europe and beyond but the sport often avoids capital cities. It’s not totally absent but it is surprisingly rare, even in Belgium. You wonder if this retreat brings a lack of visibility for decision-makers, whether sponsors or politicians? Logistics, hassle and more make it hard to send a peloton of 200 riders into town and it’s not going to get easier.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Rudi Nadler January 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Love the pictures you use. They are some of the best photos of cycling. I can feel the peloton and a tension of space on the first picture. And the juxtaposition of the Colosseum and the peleton, that’s really cool.

Lowell January 28, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Thank you for researching and sharing this piece. Living in the city, we appreciate and yearn to explore the roads less travelled. Yet, hosting a bike race in such impressive capitals, such as Paris, Rome, Madrid, and London, is a feast for the eyes, and like you say, attracts all the right people. Not forgetting those, who neither cycle, nor have been fortunate to experience the positive attributes to such a day, they get a chance to experience such a spectacle up close and personal. It’s magic and never quite leaves you the same.

Like in London, I hope there is a resurgence in capitalising on public support. At the same time, places like Yorkshire, have an equal right to access the GT’s. Last year was a formidable example of what every country and county can do.

Thank you, INRNG for bringing the sport ever closer!

BTW: second paragraph – ‘visibility in the very places were’ – I think you meant ‘Where’

BC January 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Another excellent perspective. My take and experience tells me that the beating heart of bike racing has in the main over the last one hundred years gravitated away from capital cities, for the reasons given above, to become more provincial in nature. The sport has long since moved on from the early days, when capital cities, without the traffic considerations found today, played a major role in place to place type racing. Support from City councils will be crucial to ensure some prestige presence in capital cities in the future.

What is more worrying than the absence of capital cities, is the absence of race sponsorship at a local/regional level, be it amateur or professional. Organizers move on, so the continuation of a specific event can never be guaranteed, unless it is owned by a commercial organization. The difficulty in attracting sufficient sponsorship funding, even by commercial organizers, in difficult financial times and with the blight of the doping spectra hanging over the sport, can be observed all over Europe at present.

The net overall decline in events is somewhat alarming.

Alain Rumpf January 28, 2015 at 2:42 pm

One way of getting cycling events back into big city centre is to package them in a festival with a sportive, kids races, bike expo, concerts etc.

Authorities are much more willing to close down their city for this type of event, which promotes cycling as a trendy, healthy and environment friendly leisure and mode of transportation, rather than just an elite sporting show. Sponsors also love these events where they can engage directly with thousands of active cycling participants. Finally, the significant income organizers get from entries make them less dependent on (tiny) TV revenues and sponsor money, an issue widely discussed at the moment.

The Vattenfall Cyclassics in Hamburg (UCI WorldTour) and RideLondon are two good examples of such events. The Hamburg promoters have launched a series (http://www.velothon-majors.com/en/) which is expanding to other cities. I think that there was a project to do this in Rome but for some reason it did not work out.

So, Jeff Pescheux is absolutely right but, with some creative thinking, cycling can win the cities’ heart back.

The Inner Ring January 28, 2015 at 5:08 pm

I’ve seen examples in other places too. Hopefully they have a range of events so that people don’t equate elite racing with cycling, ie you don’t need lycra, an expensive bike and sweat to ride a bike.

channel_zero January 28, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Yet, Mr. Rumpf, mass participation events are happening in most city centers and enjoy widespread political support and attract many. Yet, the UCI’s current and future changes acknowledge none of this.

At what point does the sport’s minders stop marginalizing the sport?

I hear the UCI pays well though, so there’s that.

Alain Rumpf January 28, 2015 at 9:33 pm

You would need to ask the UCI. I have left the organisation

Marc B January 28, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Yet we should’nt forget the races in Montréal and Québec city! Two major cities of a canadian province that should in fact be a country and which has provided and still provides nearly all of the canadian cyclists racing at World Tour level.

Sorry for my chauvinism, but it feels great…

Thanks INRNG!

Graham Martin January 28, 2015 at 3:07 pm

This year’s Tour de Yorkshire won’t be entering either Sheffield or Leeds (again, its a park several miles out). Still, their loss and York’s gain.
This is why ‘live streaming’ is vital – we can’t rely on traditional broadcasters to cover the minor stuff, and getting coverage out to the internet is getting easier every year.

Gingerflash January 29, 2015 at 1:55 pm

I think it’s stretching the truth a little to say that the Tour of Yorkshire is not coming to Leeds. Roundhay Park, where it finishes, is very much in Leeds. It’s inside the main ring-road, it’s 4 miles from the very centre of the city, about £2 on the bus. I don’t think anyone from Leeds would say that Roundhay Park wasn’t in Leeds!

Augie March January 28, 2015 at 3:08 pm

No fond memories of the Tour of Beijing?

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Careful – you might frighten Alain away 😉

And he made a very good point upthread.

Dave January 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Even Paris – Brest – Paris doesn’t start or finish in Paris 🙁
That said I am hoping for a good time in it this year!
Inrng, do think an article explaining the difference between, an audax, sportive, fondo & etape would make a good read? Maybe you already have done such an article, if you have sorry to say I missed it!

The Beat Generation January 28, 2015 at 4:52 pm

Brussels Kuurne Brussels ist THE Belgian Race

The Inner Ring January 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

You mean Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne? The furthest east it reaches is Ninove, it doesn’t go to Brussels any more.

Ron January 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Very nice piece. The scenery is the main reason I can get my wife to watch some of the races with me. Now I just need to find the money to take her to Corsica!

STB January 28, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Both London and now Cardiff are hosting major UCI level road races.

The key is to integrate the race into a wider cycling festival with sportive type events, criterium races, and the mass participation activities such as the London Sky-Ride (where 8 miles of the city centre is closed to motor traffic for the day).

As with city centre marathons, these events have to combine elite level competition with mass participation and ‘charity’ events. Politicians love the word ‘charity’.

Michael Carcaise January 28, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Richmond Virginia, site of the 2015 Worlds, was the capital city of the Confederate States (“The South”) during the US Civil War, 1861-1865.

And I second Marc B’s note above. The QC and Montreal races are run through the most historic and scenic parts of town. Credit to Serge Arsenault and the local authorities. I hope those races continue to grow and the USA manages to replicate them (two one-day WT races across a 3-day weekend)

Alex222 January 28, 2015 at 5:35 pm

I would have thought that was not something Virginia would want to boast about.

The Inner Ring January 28, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Either way the race isn’t in front of the obvious decision-makers in the US.

Milan-Turin finishes in the former “capital” of Italy, at least the home of the Italian royal family before the formation and unification of Italy today as we know it.

Othersteve January 28, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Mike,

I’d step back from the capitol of the “Confederate states” not a positive thought for most Americans.

Not to sound regional or biased, nice to see Amgen in LA and Sacramento. Always a huge crowd in
Sac for that race.

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 7:07 pm

I’m from London, I’ve ridden RideLondon and I stood at the finish line when Demere won the inaugural pro race two years ago. And I think…

The capital city doesn’t need it. It’s got enough going on. I appreciate that a major city might appeal to potential sponsors, but I much prefer seeing a a hill in Yorkshire becoming the ‘Côte de Buttertubs’ for one day, or the beaming face of a village mayor in France when the Tour enlivens his patch for a brief visit.

Touriste-Routier January 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Perhaps this is why the UCI needs to re-evaluate their consideration of Criteriums as exhibition races.

It is viable/sustainable form of racing that is crowd friendly, sponsor friendly, tv friendly, and doesn’t disrupt communities in the way that road races do. Further, like cyclocross, track, and post- Le Tour Crits, it is possible to charge admission fees, which boosts revenues that could be shared with riders/teams (appearance fees).

Just because you foster and promote one type of racing, doesn’t mean you will kill off the other aspects. True road racing will survive.

Ken January 28, 2015 at 7:14 pm

A spring tour based on a Williamsburg-Richmond-Charlottesville axis would find incredibly beautiful and challenging back roads. The terrain actually is very much like Provence. It also could go up into the Blue Ridge Mountains for serious climbs.

For those not familiar with the geography, Williamsburg was the colonial capital, Richmond is the current capital of Virginia, and Charlottesville was the home of Thomas Jefferson. And, the Civil War ended 150 years ago; we’re over it.

TVG January 29, 2015 at 7:14 am

RIP Tour DuPont/de Trump

Al__S January 28, 2015 at 7:53 pm

In an amusing irony, many of the measures that will be kicking races out of town centres will be ones that make the city centres better for general cycling. Other issues will be the tram revival (something that does the opposite!).

Meanwhile in London, The Mall has removable street furniture, making it ideal for finishing cycling races, marathons and holding other events.

Nick January 28, 2015 at 11:34 pm

Ironically enough, the Royal Parks authority, which is responsible for the Mall, is arguing against routing a new segregated bike path along it because they want to be able to remove the street furniture for events like Ride London.

Larry T. January 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm

Interesting that while Roma Maxima won’t be held, a lot of the same roads in Rome will be taken over again by the Gran Fondo Roma Campagnolo in the fall. We saw both Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima last year (and rode the GF) and were hoping to do the same this year.

gabriele January 29, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I feel that in Italian cycling some kind of cultural conflict between pro sport and amateur sport is being built up or subtly promoted on the basis of the breach created by doping scandals. More and more people who are actively practicing cycling aren’t interested at all in pro sport, often citing doping as the reason of their lack or lost of passion (which is quite absurd when you think about what’s happening in the amateur ranks…).
What could be a great synergy to grow both fanbase and grassroots is being wasted by the attitude of some groups related to GF organisations (with deeply rooted political links): they see pro sport as a competitor in terms of sponsorship and maybe even territorial occupation (more days with blocked roads, more energies spent by security forces and volunteers…); and they’re clearly “winning the war”, draining a lot of cycling-related money and support.
The Federation, too, looks sometimes more interested in amateur activity than in fostering the sport as such, from juvenile ranks on. Maybe that’s because the amateurs can be constantly and blindly milked while the competitive sport promotion would require some kind of reasoned investment?

Larry T. January 29, 2015 at 8:21 pm

This makes sense. Really sad that the short-sighted actions of so many during the big doping era have so damaged the long-term health of the pro sport while interest in the citizen side of things seems to be on the upswing. I hope they don’t end up mutually exclusive as GF Roma is welcomed while Roma Maxima is shunned.

gabriele January 29, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Past doping is the “weapon”, and for sure it would be better if it wasn’t so easily available to be used for this kind of so-common public opinion manipulations; though, feel assured that those who’re playing this kind of game would find something else.
Besides, I believe that some of the persons who are now taking advantage of the present situation were active in promoting doping in the pro ranks during the ’90s.
The Federations played a big role in that scenario (does anyone still believe in the “lone gunman” doping theories?), and a lot of “grey men” haven’t changed since then. They may have switched chair, if anything.
Doping problems in the sport are just like wars, never mind the distress they imply, someone is always taking advantage of the conflictual situation.

Uli Fluhme January 29, 2015 at 10:46 pm

Larry

It’s not “shunned” but you need to get both on the same day yet they are organized by two different organizations with one of them too apparently too arrogant to move. The pro race needs the GF more than the other way round. It’s easier to understand for the public why roads get closed for 5,000 people than for 150.

gabriele January 29, 2015 at 11:11 pm

“The pro race needs the GF more than the other way round”.
Funny way to proceed with your discourse, just after a sentence blaming arrogance 😉

This may be true in the short term, and I guess it could even work in the long term (after all, there are some sports that go on being practiced even if people don’t know much anymore about their pro version).
But that kind of attitude, IMHO, basically shows a lack of love towards the sport, and – corny it may sound – love tends to be a better fuel than greed to have things moving forward through the decades (and I’m not undervaluing greed, greed is great, I’ll agree about that, but it just isn’t enough to protect events, people, sports or whatever against self-destruction).

“It’s easier to understand for the public why roads get closed for 5,000 people than for 150”.
I don’t think that’s a law of Nature or such. Maybe it depends on how you’re explaining it. I used to live where we had every year an important GF (about 5k) and, nearly as often, pro races on the province’s roads. The public went mad about both, but in a very bad sense towards the GF and quite the contrary when pro races were concerned.
I could list a good lot of example that show the above sentence is just false. What’s very telling is the way you chose to put it down…

gabriele January 29, 2015 at 10:50 pm

PS About this whole matter, Larry, I must add that I really appreciate all the work which strengthens the ties between riding a bike, being a fan and supporting from the roadside. And that’s the case of what you do, if I got it right. Great article on your blog about watching the race on the Zoncolan, BTW. Made a couple of very good points, and, maybe even more important, caught *that* special feeling of watching races live…

Uli Fluhme January 29, 2015 at 11:31 pm

Gabriele

“But that kind of attitude, IMHO, basically shows a lack of love towards the sport,”

Absolutely, but we look at it at a backdoor entrance for the (fewer) true lovers.

“I don’t think that’s a law of Nature or such. Maybe it depends on how you’re explaining it. ”

I can assure you from first hand knowledge that this is the case in London, Berlin, Rome and NYC.

“I used to live where we had every year an important GF (about 5k) and, nearly as often, pro races on the province’s roads. The public went mad about both, but in a very bad sense towards the GF and quite the contrary when pro races were concerned.”

Where was that? The key term here is “province” and probably you refer to Italy which is a whole different planet when it comes to cycling. I don’t have to explain a granny in Italy on the road what a granfondo is while I can ask 100 people on Times Square and no one would know. In most other countries people don’t care about pro cycling whatsoever. If you explain to them that a road was closed for 150 guys in lycra, they go bananas. Don’t even try to convince PD to do it. Now if you talk 5,000 people and come up with a proper plan, things are different.

Ah, Italy… 😉

gabriele January 31, 2015 at 11:19 pm

Uli,

one very important point: you answered to Larry entering in a “thread” that was specifically about Italy and the fact that, right there, power lobbies or (“groups of friends”) related to the GF world and very well-connected with the political dimension of the sport are taking advantage in a very short-sighted way of the difficulties of pro cycling. Since they have the means, they’re even acting in a direction that sometimes harms pro cycling for their business’ sake.
That implies that the references to London, Berlin, NYC, Barcelona or whatever are very interesting but slightly OT. Or that’s what I hope…

That said, I got your point and I agree, especially when you speak of countries with limited pro cycling tradition among the public (NYC) or which have just lived a complicated historical period with regard to that (Berlin); but what I’m saying is that soooo much ALWAYS depends on political / image / persuasion /power factors, not on sheer numbers or any kind of practical logic.
I was referring to Italy, indeed, but I was observing that even if everyone knows what a GF is, all the same most common people hate to have it on “their” roads (from letters to the newspapers to drivers trying to run over cyclists during the GF), while they love to have the Giro around even if they don’t follow anymore or so much pro cycling.
Outside cycling, to quote an infamous case-study, in 2011 Milan Marathon was the fourth event in Italy for number of participants, but local shopkeepers were promoting an absurd protest campaign to block the event.
We could analyse deeply this situations explaining the cultural whys or hows, but what matters here is that it’s not just a matter of 5000 > 150.
Going back to cycling, maybe people should consider (or it should be explained to them) that a cycling race isn’t just about the 150 people riding and competing in that specific moment…
Besides, the global relevance of a competition between the 150 best athletes in the sport vs. 5000 amateurs is quite different as TV audience still shows. NYC is paying to appear in movies that will be seen by less spectators than a Giro stage 😛

Anyway, I’m very favourable to cycling in any possible form, I myself used to ride GFs and found them absolutely amazing, so it’s not at all about critizicing one aspect of the sport or the other. My point is precisely that anyone will benefit from synergy, even if it may mean to collaborate with not-so-collaborative people or to sacrifice a share of some short-term incomes.

Uli Fluhme February 1, 2015 at 12:18 am

Gabriele
>>>one very important point: you answered to Larry entering in a “thread” that was specifically about Italy and the fact that, right there, power lobbies or (“groups of friends”) related to the GF world and very well-connected with the political dimension of the sport are taking advantage in a very short-sighted way of the difficulties of pro cycling. Since they have the means, they’re even acting in a direction that sometimes harms pro cycling for their business’ sake.

You’d have to explain in more detail how this is done. I have no idea what you are talking about. The GF organizers I know would love to have a pro race attached to their race. In fact, many of them would have it despite it not making any financial sense because all GF organizers I know are first and foremost cycling fans. But, again, very interested what specifically you are referring to.

>>> but what I’m saying is that soooo much ALWAYS depends on political / image / persuasion /power factors, not on sheer numbers or any kind of practical logic.

Of course politicians decide what’s happening. But you have to show the politicians why your event should be chosen over another event – any kind of event – and interrupt people’s lives. And in most cases – we’re talking globally, not at the Giro – a large granfondo will show better economics than a one day pro race. You could accuse me for putting on a granfondo first to pave the way to ultimately get a pro race permitted!

>>I was referring to Italy, indeed, but I was observing that even if everyone knows what a GF is, all the same most common people hate to have it on “their” roads (from letters to the newspapers to drivers trying to run over cyclists during the GF),

That’s the same everywhere. The little man on the ground wants to be left alone. That’s why we have a democracy where we vote for people who then decide what’s best for the society as a whole.

>>while they love to have the Giro around even if they don’t follow anymore or so much pro cycling.

Yes, the Giro in Italy. The Tour in France (and other countries). Flanders in Belgium. But beyond that? Milano – San Remo? Please don’t start at the Duomo. Lombardia? Trying hard to find a course. Como didn’t want the finish any longer. And those are MONUMENTS! Let’s not even talk about lesser known races.

>>Outside cycling, to quote an infamous case-study, in 2011 Milan Marathon was the fourth event in Italy for number of participants, but local shopkeepers were promoting an absurd protest campaign to block the event.

I know the case of the Milano Marathon well. I’ve done it myself in 2004 and 2005. Milanesi are notoriously difficult when it comes to events on their roads. Why does the Giro no longer finish there?

>>We could analyze deeply this situations explaining the cultural whys or hows, but what matters here is that it’s not just a matter of 5000 > 150.

It’s not but once again: you have to demonstrate to the politicians why they should approve your event. Easy for the Giro in Italy or the Tour in France but that’s where it ends. We tried to bring the Giro to NYC. They did not want it even if we would have paid the city of NY for it (roughly $3m for prolog and one stage). Again, not even if all expenses (police etc) would have been paid! No one gives a shit.

>>Going back to cycling, maybe people should consider (or it should be explained to them) that a cycling race isn’t just about the 150 people riding and competing in that specific moment…

Again, beyond Tour and Giro you will not be able to show more favorable economical numbers for a pro race than for a 5000 rider granfondo. You are talking about convincing people who consider cycling something for “kids and crackheads”. Italy is cycling fantasy wonderland. The reality around the globe is vastly different.

>>NYC is paying to appear in movies that will be seen by less spectators than a Giro stage 😛

Not true. What is true instead is that NYC does not charge producers a filming fee but the city would never have to pay a producer to shoot. I live 8 months of the year in NYC (and 4 in Italy) – I’m tripping over film sets every day. All of them big shot move producers that pay to be in NYC.

>>My point is precisely that anyone will benefit from synergy, even if it may mean to collaborate with not-so-collaborative people or to sacrifice a share of some short-term incomes.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know any granfondo organizer who would decline a pro race despite the fact that they would not make any money but likely lose money BECAUSE THEY LOVE PRO CYCLING. E.g. Velothon and Cyclassics lose money with their pro races but continue doing them aside their granfondos because it’s fun!

gabriele February 3, 2015 at 3:42 pm

Uli,

just an example, it’s a very complicated subject. And I feel you may really know the whole thing better than me, since you worked in GF Roma organisation…

Among thousands of other things… in Italy there’s a ministerial Commission dedicated to “doping control and health protection”. This Commission has a great political importance because it has a direct relation with Ministries and the Parliament, to which it reports yearly. The reports produced by this Commission appear to be (from 2008 on) quite heavily biased against pro cycling.
For example, only in the case of cycling the positive tests by amateur athletes are added to the general number of doping cases to assess the state of… pro sport. And the consequences apply to… pro sport, obviously.
There are much more problems which has been examined in detail by people interested in the subject who publicly shared their results in the web. I can’t sum up everything here, but it’s quite impressive and eloquent.
In this Commission we find someone who has (or had, I’ve left Italy a few years ago and I’m not so up to date) a top role in the GF organisation world and, at the same time, in the CONI prosecutor’s office.
In the same Commission, there is (was?) someone who also has a top role in the FCI medical commission and who partly owns a society that sells the software to follow up the competitive athletes’ medical data, a software which cycling societies *must* use and which failed in a blatant way (privacy problem and worst), creating a conflict between the FCI and sport doctors which ultimately implied heavy consequences for pro sport (competitive athletes won’t be followed anymore by sport specialists but by general doctors). This person leaded the medical structure of an important GF project, directed by the other person I referred to above…
Generally speaking, in Italy the Federation and all the media are obsessed by pro cycling doping, while the big public health problem is actually amateur doping (impressive numbers… and the health consequences are paid by all the citizens). The FCI politics proceed in the same direction, and it’s not a surprise for the same persons are working in several strategic positions (I guess you know some of them personally, thanks to GF Roma…) both in the FCI and in the GF world.
The present management is deeply involved both in the PUBLIC sector of competitive cycling (the Italian Federation is public… pro cycling + juvenile sector) and in the PRIVATE sector of GF organisation. During the last years Italian pro cycling showed impressive management troubles (very McQuaidian, I’d say), whereas the GF world grew in a notable way. Both were managed by the same persons, apparently incompetent when they were taking care of the competitive side of the sport, but very effective when they were taking care of private interests (real estate included, sometime).

Well, ok, this is a GIANT OT, I’m very sorry, I just didn’t want to drop it down as if I didn’t have an hint (the truth, I’ve not even started to tell the whole story). Anyway, there are (very few) good journalists working in mainstream media (or even not so mainstream) that worked a lot on this story. It’s not hard to dig it out if you know cycling-related Italian sources of information.

Thank you very much for the exchange, Uli, I appreciated it a lot. It’s always nice to talk with someone working in cycling and for cycling. Best wishes! (I won’t have time to follow up in the next weeks)

Uli Fluhme February 3, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Thanks Gabriele. To be clear: I have never worked for GF Roma. I know who you are referring to and I disagree with most of your statements. If you care about a follow up, it’s time to take it offline. My email is uli at granfondony dot com.

Just this: I vehemently disagree that GF and its organizers have any fault in pro cycling’s misery. It’s time for pro cycling to get off the high horse or it will be left behind (need a hint: look at triathlon – no one cares about pros).

Anonymous January 28, 2015 at 10:07 pm

The uk is too London centric as it is, would have preferred three stages in Yorkshire last year.

Dave January 28, 2015 at 10:27 pm

The London stage was as much a means to get the Tour back south for the crossing back to France.

Larrick January 29, 2015 at 12:27 am

In addition to adding other events, the day of the week is important as well. All the major cities of the world host a marathon and I think I’m right in saying that they’re all either on a Sunday or public holiday.

Easiest day of the week to close roads and good for tv viewing figures too. Where there’s a will, there’s a way 🙂

disgruntledgoat January 29, 2015 at 8:06 am

Brussels isn’t really a cycling town though. It’s not even really a Belgian town as most people who lived there long ago realised that the smart money was in jacking in work, renting out your flat to NATO/EU employees or immigrant families and moving to the countryside. I think only 4% of journeys in Brussels are made by bike and it lacks open spaces with the access you’d need to take a big race in and out of the city.

The cycling strongholds in Belgium are the area south of Antwerp, not so much the city itself, Kortrijk and Gent, all of which are well represented by pro races. And that’s before we get into the tiny villages that are Belgiums real production line of cycling talent and organisation (Horebeke/Brakel, Ploegsteert, Evergem etc etc)

Andrew January 29, 2015 at 11:01 am

Having lived in the South, I can assure you that not everyone is over the “war of northern aggression” and that Virginia is quite proud of Richmond.

I’m only reporting this, btw.

Paul Jakma January 29, 2015 at 11:43 am

Note quite a political capital, but an economic one: Glasgow has had 2 major bicycle races in the last 2 years. Though, not commercial, UCI pro calendar races, even if both featured a number of professional, World Tour riders. There was the British Cycling national road championships in 2013, and the British Commonwealth games cycling road race in 2014. Both on the same course in and around Glasgow city centre. One off races.

There’s a dearth of WorldTour/ProConti commercially organised racing in the UK, there’s only the Tour of Britain on a regular basis I think. However, there are the continental / national ˝Tour Series˝crit races, which are held in town centres.

Paul Jakma January 29, 2015 at 11:48 am

Oops, I forgotten the new 1.HC class RideLondon London-Surrey classic, which someone mentioned above. Perhaps the UK is bucking the European trend described by inrng?

Vanilla_Thrilla January 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

One of the frustrating things about cycling is that it’s a minority, niche sport. Then again, one of the best things about cycling is that it’s a minority, niche sport.

gabriele January 29, 2015 at 12:54 pm

I guess that it all depends on the scope (worldwide? Europe-wide?) and on the definition of minority… I was reading that Augustin, Eurosport CEO, says that the 2014 Vuelta collected 100 millions “unique viewers” on their network, which in mathematical terms is indeed a “minority” of the European population, but wouldn’t be properly defined as a “niche” (I’m quite surprised by that number but he was even quoting sources; don’t know, translation problems maybe? Anyway, in a good number of European countries cycling can’t be defined nowadays as a “niche sport”, unless you consider as such *every* sport, football aside).

Eskerrik Asko January 29, 2015 at 9:36 pm

“Source: AGF/GfK, BARB, SKO, MMS, TNS-Gallup, Kantar Media, AGB NMR, Armadata/Kantar-Techedge” and “the audience reach measurement is judged on precise reach based on 60 non-consecutive second” (whatever that means).

For comparison. last year’s French Open attracted “60.7 million different viewers” (and an average live audience of 1.36 million viewers; the men’s final 4.1 million).

gabriele January 29, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Thank you for the contribution! 🙂
I had read the news “en passant” and I could remember only the general framework.

Steve VéloRoo January 29, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Echo the comments of the other contributors, a great perspective! How is it that you always bring up topic that are quickly followed by “what hasn’t anyone else though of commenting on that!” well done!
Oh by the way I saw the INRNG. cap a couple of times at the Tour Down Under = great to see!

Uli Fluhme January 29, 2015 at 6:46 pm

We have been and continue to be working on bringing a pro race to NYC. It takes a company willing to invest $10m over three years to make it happen. With GFNY we already have the infrastructure and permits in place.

Alex January 29, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Oh no, I like Roma Maxima. The uphill stretch through those narrow, ancient streets was great theater. And it was nice having a cool race right after Strade Bianche. Bummer!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: