Team Sky’s Finances

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The latest set of Team Sky’s accounts has been published and here is a closer look at their finances including a bumper budget.

Team Budget = £34.5 million

Team Sky budget

Team Sky’s budget for 2017 was £34,496,000, up 11% on the previous year as the screengrab from their filed accounts shows. It was equivalent to US$46.2 million or €38.6 million.

Again that’s for the year ending 2017, once the calendar year is done the accounts for Tour Racing Limited, the corporate entity better known as Team Sky are prepared and this time they were signed off in June. The team used to filed the accounts during July but now they’re posted just ahead of the statutory deadline of September (helpfully avoiding budget talk during the Tour?) As you can see the team makes no real profit, the surplus generated is equal to the tax bill due.

Since inception in 2010 the budget has more than doubled. Loyal readers will remember that 2015 saw a small decrease in part because the British Pound was riding high and therefore the currency went further when offering contracts in Euros to riders so budget movements are in part due to the exchange rate but the 2017 spend increased due to “strong rider performance leading to higher staff and rider costs”, meaning more wages and bonuses.

The screengrab above shows the three categories of income:

  • Title sponsorship is obvious and notes to the accounts show that £21.5 million came from Sky and £3.8 million from 21st Century Fox. Why this split? Because Sky owns 85% of the team and 21st Century Fox the other 15% and the sponsorship payments are pro rata
  • Performance sponsorship means other sponsorship for example from the likes of Pinarello, Castelli, Ford, Kask and others who don’t just supply the team but pay to supply the team and “other income” can include prize money, appearance fees and the participation fees that the UCI stipulates race organisers must pay World Tour team for starting
  • Value in kind is presumably the value of items given to the team, be it team cars or frames.

Here you can see the staffing costs and the story here is that they’re taking a lot of their staff (like managers, cooks, soigneurs, mechanics) onto the team’s books whereas in the past they hired them in as independent contractors, for example in 2011 they only had three full-time staff. Don’t confuse staff with riders through, it’s different which explains why the wage bill for staff is only £2.9 million.

Where is it spent? In the past Sky’s accounts used to breakdown the expenditure on wages, travel and so on but this year this isn’t in the notes any more. In the past wages accounted for roughly 80% of the budget and like all teams the wage bill is the biggest expense.

One note in the account mentions a provision for £2.8 million. This means they’ve set aside this money expecting “economic outflow to be probable”, a fancy way of saying they might have to cough up this money. This might be a small footnote in the accounts and a technical accounting matter but as a lump of cold hard cash it’s still significant.

Any assets? Not much, they have £2 million worth of vehicles, be it team cars, trucks and (if they’re not leasing it) Dave Brailsford’s motor home but these have been depreciated and written down to just £170,000

The future
The team’s principal sponsor, Sky, is the subject of takeovers in London and New York. US telecoms and media company Comcast is battling 21st Century Fox to takeover Sky on the London Stock Exchange. Meanwhile Disney is trying to acquire 21st Century Fox too. This presents two ultimate scenarios: Comcast owns Sky or Disney owns Sky. In both cases a slew of media reports say James Murdoch, the biggest backer of the pro team, is leaving. For all the Wall Street reporting there’s no detail on the fate of the cycling team sponsorship, just a story to watch.

Conclusion
Team Sky’s budget for 2017 was £34.5 million, their highest amount and by extension the biggest ever seen in the World Tour. This reflects an increased wage bill. 2018 should be bigger and it’s likely 2019 will be even bigger as they’ve just re-signed Geraint Thomas on a huge contract and according to The Cycling Podcast they want to give Egan Bernal a five year deal worth millions, quite possibly the biggest and longest contract to date in pro cycling.

There’s been a lot of talk about team budgets, caps and more. Yet there’s no hard data for the World Tour meaning a public debate built on guestimates. The UCI does get each team audited but the findings are kept very private. Sky are one of the rare teams to publish a full set of accounts (Ag2r La Mondiale do to), it’s a legal requirement in the UK. Keep an eye on the stockmarket takeover of Sky which could change the title sponsorship in the years to come.

  • Accounts available online at companieshouse.gov.uk
  • Exchange rates at 31 December 2017: £1 GBP = US$ 1.34 = €1.12
RonDe September 18, 2018 at 4:34 pm

A tidy sum but surely due to be even bigger in the near future if the 5 year, 12 million pound contract Egan Bernal is reported to have been offered (as reported by Richard Moore in the Guardian over the weekend) turns out to be true. And then there is the rumour that fellow Colombian, Ivan Sosa, thought to be Trek bound, actually never signed and his new manager would much prefer he signed for Sky.

Money well spent for Sky if it basically guarantees continued grand tour wins.

Michael B September 18, 2018 at 10:20 pm

The figures being bandied about for Bernal are astonishing, there must be more to it – e.g. a large chunk of that is based on win bonuses at GTs. It makes no sense otherwise to offer such a huge deal at basic wage since no-one else can get near it. Offer half and you’d still blow the rest out of the water.

And with the best will in the world multiple TdF GC wins by Bernal would not have the same impact as one by a UK rider, in Team Sky’s home market. That isn’t meant to be a UK-centric comment, the same logic applies to Gilbert/Quick Step or Landa/Movistar etc. Maybe Sky just want to crack the untapped Colombian broadband market.

RonDe September 19, 2018 at 1:07 pm

It certainly raises questions Michael. Perhaps Sky are happy enough just making sure they win grand tours and they see in Bernal the most likely star of the future? I can’t claim to know myself but that seems reasonable. If so, perhaps they are offering him the riches of avarice simply to make sure no one else ever has him. If he does turn out to be the best and was with someone else then, by definition, Sky wouldn’t win themselves. I note that they have backed up their interest in the Colombian though. They raced Colombia Oro y Paz at the start of the year. In fact, Bernal won the race beating the likes of Uran, Alaphilippe and both Quintanas into the bargain in what was a 6 day stage race.

I’m also almost sure that in the last year or two Brailsford has either intimated or said out loud that Team Sky isn’t simply a nationalistic project. To be “the best team in the world” you need the best team. That won’t happen by signing riders according to nationality.

Rob H September 18, 2018 at 4:45 pm

If you say “Loyal readers will remember that 2015 saw a small decrease in part because the British Pound was riding high and therefore the currency went further when offering contracts in Euro” surely we must also conclude that since the EU referendum part of the budget increase is almost certainly due to the weak pound.

The Inner Ring September 18, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Not quite as Sky is able to ask its sponsors for Euros or Pounds under an agreement with them so these days currency movements don’t seem to be such a problem for them. And the team’s accounts explain the increase as down to higher wage and bonuses rather than currency this time.

pf_83 September 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm

I may have entirely imagined this, but was there not talk last year of Sky possibly pulling their sponsorship soon? Is this still (if it ever was) likely?

The Inner Ring September 18, 2018 at 4:53 pm

The accounts used to say the team was funded for several years by Team Sky but haven’t for the last couple of years but this doesn’t tell us much. As mentioned above we’ll see what happens with the takeover battle and whether this changes things.

BenW September 18, 2018 at 4:56 pm

The only talk I recall has centred around the sale of Sky and potential departure of James Murdoch, and what that could entail, as he’s the biggest supporter within the firm. As INRNG has stated a few times in the past, the cycling team effectively comes under Sky’s advertising budget and is a mere fraction of that amount. Change of ownership could change things, however.

Ste September 18, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Wages are £2.8m per year but isn’t Froome’s contract worth £3m per year?
Or am I being dumb and missing something here?

A different J Evans September 18, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Most (all?) of the riders are ‘contractors’ rather than direct employees, hence they don’t show up in wages.

Ste September 18, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Cheers.
Thought I was missing something.

Chuffy September 18, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Unless I’m mistaken, that’s the wages for actual staff (soigneurs, mechanics etc) rather than riders, who are contractors & come under a different heading.

The Inner Ring September 18, 2018 at 5:51 pm

Yes, staff and not riders, I’ll make this clearer above now.

RQS September 19, 2018 at 2:40 pm

What are the contractor costs? That must form the bulk of the budget. I’m surprised that despite having won the last three Grand Tours (before the Vuelta) that the prize money is not greater by degrees.

Motormouth September 18, 2018 at 5:38 pm

(hyperbole incoming)

These numbers and discussions really turn me off of pro cycling. RonDe nailed my distaste accurately with his comment about ‘money well spent to guarantee GT wins’ and the (bad) echos to other professional sports like football and how disgusting it all is now.

Sky are vampires atop of British Cycling, and now that they’ve sucked it dry are moving on.

Hopefully their continued escalation does not corrupt the rest of the sport, or crater the lower tiers.

RonDe September 18, 2018 at 5:44 pm

The point of sport is to win. Those who manage to do this regularly eventually become hated. Merckx, Hinault, Anquetil, Contador, Coppi, Indurain, they all had their haters in their day. But everything passes away. In 20 years time we’ll hate someone else.

But its not really a money issue. Humans just seem to prefer variety or change over the same old same old.

gabriele September 18, 2018 at 6:31 pm

Surprise (?) comeback!
Quite short-lived, too, I’m afraid (I doubt I’ll be able to follow up). Enjoying life as a dad is amazing but time-demanding.
Don’t talk history so lightly. The names you name, RonDe, were hated by many, indeed, but they generally inspired respect. Even the most hated ones – and very often to their same haters, too; who, on turn, could be numerous but rarely were “the most”.
Besides, those legendary names drew impressive figures of new fans into the sport through their greatness and/or the rivalries they often were involved in. Even the most recent ones among them.
The same isn’t true nowadays, at least for some of the “big winners”, who are apparently scaring fans away – now even in the UK, at least as long as the TdF is concerned (-15/-18% in 2018).
The Tour de France global audience is free-falling and while the Giro is holding its positions where it’s being broadcast for free, a meagre defence of the existing situation isn’t probably what RCS was expecting, especially if at the same time millions were lost because of the Eurosport deal – needed to grant part of the cash for the big buy.
And I’ve personally lost a certain deal of respect after the salbutamol WADA farce. The perception frame surrounding the whole current situation in cycling was shifted, and not in a good way. As you might know, I was pretty much cynical already, imagine that.

RonDe September 18, 2018 at 7:09 pm

Nice to hear from you again gabriele. Sorry if I disrupted you from fatherhood! Should we really be setting store by TV audience figures though? How many watched Coppi ON TV? Your chosen metric is an entirely modern one and ignores that in modern sport the rich network (like the much hated Sky) buy the rights to sport and then show it to the few people prepared to pay for it. Mass viewing of sport os only ever possible on free to air TV which, for any sport that gets any attention, is less and less likely today. None of this is the fault of Team Sky even if it might be partly the fault of Sky TV.

In short, I wonder about the appropriateness of your chosen metric and wouldn’t want to drag you from your children to discuss it as I’m sure spending time with them is much better than talking to me!

Tovarishch September 18, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Television viewing figures mean nothing to the teams or the sponsors. A sport that takes part in the middle of the afternoon on weekdays is never going to attract a large audience and, even at weekends, the timing is such that most people have something better to do.

RonDe September 18, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Also true. But its not as if people stopped watching on TV the sport would disappear. Cycling is a sport that was invented before TVs even existed. Its popularity is not based upon it or reliant upon it. I don’t know how many watch cycling on TV in Spain (with or without Contador in his tactical bunker on Spanish Eurosport) but it was noticeable that once the Vuelta hit the Basque country the roads were full of fans. In other areas not so much. That speaks of culture, tradition and history rather than how many folks in their armchairs can be persuaded to watch a race. And this culture can be created. IT has been in the UK in the last two decades and this is a country which basically hates bikes! Yet at the recent Tour of Britain their was a good deal of engagement with the race by local communities and once against large crowds to cheer the race on. That, might I controversially suggest, is in large part thanks to the successes of British Cycling and Team Sky.

DUNCAN(oldDAVE) September 18, 2018 at 7:49 pm

Nice to hear from you Gabriele.

Larry T September 18, 2018 at 8:50 pm

+1 Thanks, I was starting to feel like one man yelling into a hurricane, if you know what I mean.

gabriele September 18, 2018 at 10:18 pm

Don’t worry, I mainly stopped reading (I knew I’d write if I had ^__^), plus I’ll stop again soon, I’m afraid.
Just an exceptionally long siesta by the baby, I wish it’s going to become a habit but I’m far from sure. And… one child is more than enough for now!

Weak arguments as always, RonDe. TV is pars pro toto. Cycling is still a mass sport throughout most of the main European countries. Millions is mass to me. Millions they were and millions they are, watching and/or riding, unless a nonsense management throws this heritage into the waste bin.

And, Tovarishch, apparently you aren’t aware of the figures, as isn’t RonDe (he makes that clear). Once the first week is over, the Vuelta is more often than not the most watched show of the day on the main Spanish national channel – La1 – barring the news (2016 data).
Of course TV matters, ask the races which disappear. Ask the women. Ask the teams who can’t ride the races which make big TV and are shut.
Of course BC programme as a whole has been great. Any cycling lover should point at that as a model for his or her own country. Great for UK, but is that also great for the sport in more general terms? Losing, say, 2-3M in order to gain (for how long?) some 700K isn’t the best deal ever. That said, Team Sky was actually very good, until the excess became insulting.
Anyway, as I said, it’s not about cycling going pay (that was just a parenthesis about the Giro): figures are struggling even when the broadcasting model stayed the same.
And that’s not about cycling in general: for instance, the TdF is losing ground more than other races, say some Classics.
Come on, Sky’s way whatever form it takes isn’t exactly popular, choose the metric you prefer. You might live in some bubble, but cycling’s main reality is elsewhere.

However, nothing of that has anything to do with the main point above, which luckily enough was talked around.
Team Sky’s model isn’t enjoying the same degree of respect and admiration which, say, Coppi or even Anquetil had deserved, although everybody knew that part of the magic was them *training* better than the rest. Sport science all the way through, but when you’re left with science *only*, and a love letter from WADA to keep you safe, well, that’s not enough for some.

PS Purito said on TV that he saw Simon Yates binging on hamburgers on the Giro’s second rest day and knew he wasn’t going to win. Well, it didn’t harm too much his ITT, apparently, and it’s got nothing to do with the above, but I thought it was fun to share ^__^

Larrick September 19, 2018 at 2:04 am

What are the viewing figures via websites Gabriele if you don’t mind me asking? Also the 2nd and 3rd etc TVs in households? I know in Australia that for the TdF, SBS figures for television dropped but then there were advert breaks on a regular basis. If you watched via the SBS streaming service you had no ad breaks and full stage coverage. Something the tv side didn’t do. So tv viewing figures are nowhere near the be all and end all. A perfect example is the upcoming World Championships. SBS will show only the elite men’s and women’s races on tv. All races including juniors and all the TTs however will be available online. A cursory look at viewer figures for TTs in Australia will therefore be zero. I can assure though that that will be not be the case in reality.

RonDe September 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm

“when you’re left with science *only*, and a love letter from WADA to keep you safe, well, that’s not enough for some”

Gabriele, I had never realised you were this cynical. I knew, of course, we often took different points of view. Yet that is fine, even good, for debate. But your reply sounds more desperate than anything else now. Its also very biased towards “cycling’s heartlands” (my term but what you basically mean). You live in a world populated by Italian, French, Spanish, Belgian and the Dutch. You act as if cycling exists because of and for these people only. You note the recent upsurge in the UK, which I mentioned and you confirmed by your agreement, but you don’t really care about it. Britons are not from cycling’s heartlands. How can we really care about them when (so you seem to think) its just a fad or a phase? That seems to be your attitude and it does you no credit.

As to the excerpt of yours I’ve quoted, well, you’re entitled to your view. Your view is rubbish but you’re allowed to have it. I had thought you more intelligent than some empty conspiracy theorist who makes up stories unconstrained by the reality of what actually happens or the need to coherently explain it but it now seems that even you would sometimes rather simply believe the easiest thing to believe. Yet surely even you can see that the easiest thing for WADA or the UCI to have done was throw Froome under the bus? All those who hate Froome/Sky can feel vindicated and their fans just get over it. No one really expected him to walk away from the charge (not even me) but the fact that he did suggests a little but more than a “love letter”. That does your powers of critical thinking little credit Gabriele. I will put it down to fatherhood meaning you not giving cycling matters your full attention.

Other than that, I would note just a couple more things. Firstly, Froome’s reception in the Giro, when he was still under the spotlight of suspicion, was largely very positive. He even had an Italian fanclub singing his name at Bardonecchia after his amazing stage 19 win. And, second, to characterise Sky as all about “science” is wilfully blind. If you even take the four biggest winners of their current squad, Froome, Thomas, Kwiatkowski and Poels, these are not carbon copies of each other and they do not ride the same way. You underplay Sky’s multiple abilities and so make an error. Add in Bernal, no doubt a future Sky headline name, and you have a different kind of rider again. Say what you like about him, but its not much to do with “science”.

RQS September 19, 2018 at 3:00 pm

I find your argument style frustrating because we don’t know what figures you are talking about. Is this worldwide? Europe wide? U.K. wide?
Obviously a sports brand (like the EPL) nerd viewing figures to determine their worth when selling to various different television companies around the world.
I would probably agree that the TdF figures may be down due to market saturation in the U.K. But the Vuelta has made it onto main stream channels, and possible the Giro here too. The US’s failure to have a strong team, and win anything has probably caused interest to fall over there. I don’t think you can hammer Sky for that.
I think you also over talk the respect/disrespect that riders and fans have for Sky. I have no affiliation to any team or rider, but Froome has handled himself very well through a trying time. I think the result on the salbutamol affair did nothing for anyone, but given that Froome had to ride the slings and arrows for something which otherwise would have been dealt with behind close doors (and saved blushes and embarrassment all round) he should surely garner respect for his approach – which is why I say you overstate the case against Sky and its riders.
So it’s very much a thumbs down on your comment from me.
Congrats on the bambino. I became a father 2.5 years ago and when they are so young take all your focus. MkII should be baked come mid-November. Considerately timed for the next racing season.
Interesting comments on cyclocosms website as to whether teams/riders should avoid the Tour/specialise in the Vuelta (or Giro).

Anonymous September 20, 2018 at 5:21 pm

RonDe, the reality is that the views you find so impossible to digest – gabriele’s, Larry T’s, 123’s, etc., etc. – are the views of the majority of cycling fans (see sites other than this one – and especially ones that are not in English; also, ask actual people in mainland Europe).
You may have kept faith in WADA after their ludicrous result and you might have ignored all that has happened around Sky in the last few years, but many others haven’t – do you ever get the feeling that it might just not be all of these people who are biased?

RonDe September 21, 2018 at 8:19 pm

@anonymous

My opinion isn’t that they are biased nor do I have much faith in WADA so you need to recalibrate your opinion of me accordingly.

Neither, for the record, do I care much for “cycling fans”, an amorphous term that could mean anything. Is someone who lives in England and has followed pro cycling from 1983 a cycling fan? “Cycling fans” is not the same as “people who agree with me” whoever “me” happens to be.

See websites, especially ones not in English? Like the L’Equipe comments section, perhaps, where sane and reasoned argument always finds a home. Never finds a home, sorry. What would I learn, that people are partisan? I already know that. I think that you should take a look in the mirror because “the majority of cycling fans” don’t write on cycling blogs at all. How many of Team Sky’s 868,000 Twitter followers do you think would agree with you? Or Froome’s 1.5 million?

Anonymous September 21, 2018 at 9:12 pm

RonDe, see gabriele’s comment below – you can look for RonDe’s delusional victimism

Nick September 19, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Llongyfarchiadau/congratulations!

Paul September 20, 2018 at 9:42 am

I must admit to being turned off Cycling a little by the whole TUE farce including the Simon Yates affair……. so i am only 98% crazy about the sport now.

Its sad to have lost the 2%

The Missus has not noticed any decline she complains

Anonymous September 18, 2018 at 6:08 pm

The ‘vampires of cycling’ had bags of blood hanging from picture hooks. The world desperately needs to regain a little perspective.

Motormouth September 18, 2018 at 8:54 pm

So the vampires have moved on from blood, to money and talent.

Also, huh? I don’t know that I agree with your characterization: vampires drink *other* people’s blood, not their own. So… unsure how the ‘dopers as vampires’ analogy works, except that there is blood involved, but ok maybe I am just a pedantic horror movie fan…

And a second side note on that doping point: one could have less issue with individual performance doping, which is performance enhancement available to mostly anyone (and not even proven to work outside of a systemic application, which goes back to financial means as a ‘root’ issue), as there are moral arguments to be made about overwhelming genetics and financial resources being the actual unfair competition in a humanist sense… but I honestly have no solid personal argument around it. I do find it interesting to consider both sides and I’ve never been a eugenics proponent so can’t defend ‘natural talent’ as some kind of unequivocally good thing that must be protected against the unwashed proletariat and their dirty dirty genes. But in reality as it stands, I support the MPCC and the biological passport establishing bio ‘norms’ and historical analysis (even if the ridiculous ‘whereabouts’ protocols are abusive to athletes).

RonDe – I fully agree there is a divorce between my love and participation in recreational cycling and amateur bike racing and the state of professional sports. I’ve never been one to be seduced by equipment sponsorships. Now, falling for pretty paint jobs and pseudo-scientific market speak… guilty.

Welcome back G, welcome to the club of parenting. May I recommend a Yepp bike seat 🙂

Morten Reippuert September 18, 2018 at 10:10 pm

“So the vampires have moved on from blood, to money and talent.”

they are still on blood (etc), it just takes more money to hide it away from curious journalists and anti doping agencies.

gabriele September 18, 2018 at 10:33 pm

Thanks, looks good 🙂
I’m looking forward to her being six months old and able to keep her neck in position just to “race” her around. Good training, heavier and heavier as you grow stronger and older, Valverde’s style.

hoh September 18, 2018 at 11:12 pm

Or when she’s 3 and 4 years old, having her follow you on a bike whilst you are out for a run (which by the way, is a good way to get your cardio up to speed in the winter).

I’m afraid there’s no solution to the sleep problem. Sleep expert would advise you to put them down and let them cry it out once they are 6 month old. I can’t imagine many parents are stone hearted enough to follow that advise. Mine once held up for a full hour and half, we gave up the next day.

diabyearnshowmuch September 18, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Everyone complains that there isn’t enough investment in cycling, yet people are unhappy that Sky has such a large budget. Surely it’s down to the other teams to raise their game rather than criticise them? Maybe Quickstep need to approach Disney!

The Inner Ring September 18, 2018 at 6:08 pm

It’s possible to want more sponsors in the sport while also showing concern about one team dominating.

As well as the legacy of doping making it still a risky venture to propose in the boardroom, cycling’s problem is that it doesn’t offer big global sponsors that much, it’s only just got around to returning to racing in Germany, ie it is only now covering European markets let alone the US, Asia etc. Patrick Lefevere could go to Disney but cycling’s demographic probably isn’t for them.

Tomski September 18, 2018 at 7:04 pm

+1

Perhaps cycling’s biggest problem attracting sponsors is that, as Sagan said yesterday, its boring to watch to an outsider. Another issue is that most of the races are shown on subscription-only channels: most services offer a choice of hundreds of different channels. When surfing through, the average viewer sees a bunch of blokes riding along with little to no context of what is happening. For the most part, they all look the same because they’re all wearing shades and helmets. Very hard to get into the sport when you can’t tell who’s who. I found it helpful when Sky started printing riders’ names on their sleeves. Finally, as most races take place in Europe, it can make for difficult viewing in non-European time zones. I believe someone else was talking about this yesterday with reference to MTS’s difficulty attracting sponsors. Not much exposure if your home team is winning during the small hours.

For all that is levelled at Sky, if they didn’t have the biggest budget, someone else would. If Euskadi didn’t have the smallest budget at the Vuelta, someone else would. ’tis the nature of pro sport.

The Inner Ring September 18, 2018 at 8:35 pm

Most of the races might be subscription only for you, but remember the biggest audience of the Tour is French viewers watching on public TV, the Giro’s is Italians viewing RAI for free, the same for RTVE in Spain and Sporza/RTBF for the Belgian races and so on. Many countries in Europe have laws enshrining cycling must be shown on free-to-air TV, you can see a list of these protected sports events at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2008:017:0007:0010:en:PDF (The list of races that must be free in Belgium is long)

Tomski September 18, 2018 at 8:50 pm

Thanks. I’d forgotten that.

Tovarishch September 18, 2018 at 9:06 pm

But even that is a fairly limited audience, preaching to the converted. What matters, to sponsors, is getting their name in front of the general public, even subliminally, be it casual road side watchers or TV news viewers. A pal of mine who has zero interest in cycle racing, knows that a Brit won the Vuelta and next time he is buying a bottle of wine he might notice the name Mitchelton and be recall the name, from somewhere.

gabriele September 18, 2018 at 10:29 pm

The single biggest audience works as inrng says, but the cumulate audience from the rest of the world was usually quite bigger than the national one. Which might look obvious but it isn’t. For example, whenever it was shown for free in Spain or France the Giro easily hit the 1M mark there, without much of a previous tradition. And the Tour used to get close to 2M both in Italy and Spain. Several millions watching at least ninety minutes every day for three weeks is a strong enough public. This time-structure is peculiar, and you need how to you use it appropriately marketing-wise, no doubt, but at the same time it’s something few sports (or none) can offer. Maybe some soap opera (which are called like that because…).

Othersteve September 19, 2018 at 2:32 am

Is that true during the Lemond era? Saturday/Sunday stages on public TV in the US,were
still lower than France?

Gabriel , you have been missed, hope you have a bit more time to contribute, we need some “stability”

David September 19, 2018 at 7:59 am

They may be on nominally free-to-air channels, but more and more people are getting those ‘free’ channels through a paid platform with 100s of channel choices, so the point about the fragmentation of attention is still valid. And that’s before you take into account other forms of competition – watching online videos; social media; commenting on blogs…

Liam September 18, 2018 at 8:02 pm

I find it strange to regard Sky as “dominating” when they regularly fail to win most races in a year. They never really bother with a sprinter, are competent but largely non-winning performers in classics and monuments and have only really specialised in grand tours. Yet even there in 9 years across 27 races they’ve only won 8.

What “domination”?

The Inner Ring September 18, 2018 at 8:31 pm

Winning the Tour de France, topping the UCI rankings means they’re a strong team. Remember cycling is a sport where a team doesn’t win at a rate like a football team or a tennis player might. We wow at Quick Step’s 67 wins… when there are what, about 400 races a year, meaning a win rate of “only” 15%. Winning the biggest race regularly puts them in a strong position.

Liam September 18, 2018 at 9:45 pm

The top ranked team this year will be Quickstep and, from memory, the last two or even three years was Movistar. Again, this isn’t “domination”. I wouldn’t deny Sky are prominent in certain races but they are far from dominant in cycling as a whole. I note that people as a whole who use this site do like to look at the big picture but if you do look at that Sky’s impact is much less significant.

Steven Choi September 19, 2018 at 9:57 am

Numbers do not lie. Back then my passing marks used to be 60 out of 100, somehow moving down to 50 out of 100 as a passing grade. Then moving on a breakdown of 10% (diction)50%(presentation)40%(research). Even at a younger age I always have a special feeling towards World Champ Jersey. ‘World’ can only be the super fast rider and out sprint all in whatever gradients. So called the greatest of all.

RQS September 19, 2018 at 7:26 pm

People only seem to blame Sky for closing down breaks and destroying what they refer to as ‘racing’. I don’t deny they do it. But the lack of any team (ANY TEAM) stamping their dominance on the Vuelta meant fewer sprints and more breakaways unless QuickStep felt they could launch flat track bully Viviani (excellent sprinter, but no friend of an inclined finish). The point is that none of the sprint teams were interested in closing down the breaks.

But when they do think there is something in the race for them those teams will suffocate a race in the same way Sky do. But people seem to accept that as de Facto happening – it’s certainly one rule for the sprint teams and one for climbers. I like a good piece of individual racing as much as the next, so I’m just playing devils advocate on this point.

RQS September 19, 2018 at 7:14 pm

If they keep producing Star Wars prequels, sequels and spin-offs then that may not be the case. Disney owns so many franchises now, including the Marvel comics, still the purchase of 21st Century Fox doesn’t necessarily mean its dissolution either. It just brings uncertainty as to Disney’s intentions.

I presume that it’s actuslly more to do with horizontal gains, or in other words, or asset diversification than any improvements on Disney film production costs.
Still doping, no matter how much the board know/don’t know about it, is an undesirable connection for sponsors.

Motormouth September 18, 2018 at 8:57 pm

I never complained about the lack of investment.

And most people complain about the financial structure in pro cycling. Not the same thing.

Martin Littlewood September 18, 2018 at 6:49 pm

Whenever I watch qualifying for F1 or MotoGP there seems to be a lot of time when there is no one on the track with riders/drivers sitting about in the pits. Why not have cycle road races/time trials or something cycling related going on to give the fans something else to watch

Dave September 18, 2018 at 7:30 pm

If you’re referring to fans watching at home, they can switch over to another channel showing a cycling event (or another channel showing something else) without moving from their seat.

If you’re referring to the fans watching at the circuit, you’ll find that the “nothing” time usually does have a whole bunch of stuff going on which is not shown on the TV broadcast. In fact, there’s quite a lot more happening than you get waiting on the side of the road for a cycle race so it should be cycling bosses who take a trip to an F1 weekend to look and learn rather than the other way around.

PaulG September 18, 2018 at 6:53 pm

“It’s possible to want more sponsors in the sport while also showing concern about one team dominating.”

I think Patrick Lefevre needs to cut his budget…..Dominating the results the way Quickstep have.

jules winnfield September 18, 2018 at 7:16 pm

Touche.

Patrick September 18, 2018 at 10:12 pm

yes, i think one of the major issues for cycling is how much TDF GC is seen as being everything to most of the general public, especially outside the core euro nations. team sky have done what LA did, recognise this and throw their not insignificant financial and pedal power resources into that sole target in order to be seen as the dominant rider/team. the rest of the races and other teams suffer as a result and unfortunately quickstep’s budget is likely to be cut, despite the amount of great racing they have shown us through the year.

123 September 19, 2018 at 1:04 am

Look, you have one race a year, where everybody comes in it‘s best suit. Where everybody watches and expects the sport to shine, because, that is it. This is the one rendezvous everybody waited for.

And then sky come along and destroy everything.

That this is most definitely neither in the best interest of the sport, nor sporting (because it is not done on a level plaing field), is surely clear even to sky. Do they care? No (although the riders should, when they want their sport to do well).

As for this piece:
The longer I watch sport, the more I begin to doubt, that there is a thing like „professional sport“. It is either a profession or a sport. And I much rather watch a sport, where the riders earn enough to live good and not millions (sorry!). Because that would mean, that unhealthy, toxic things like sky won‘t happen so easily.

I really don‘t understand, how so many are unable to connect the dots. For everything you do, there is a price to pay. When you go for globalisation, you pay a price. When you go for capitalism, you pay a price. The same, if you don’t do it. People act, like all this happens and nothing changes except, the positive things you can gain: if you go „big“, people will have more money (which is always seen as a given, but never really happens, if there really is money, it are only a few, that profit). That is not the case. Every decision has consequences. When you make a decision for globalisation, you decide in the very same moment against local sport. And we see, in almost every sport, that globalisation or becoming more professional doesn‘t work for sport as they wished it would. The only one doing good is football per the champions league and a few do remotely good, interestingly those, that are considered upper class (and no, the nba, nfl etc. are no global sports, they are local. The nba even once called (don’t know, if they still do it) their champions worldchampion, their „world“ is usa)

The ones wanting sport to be a business, because they live from it (agents, federations, investors, clubs, teams, athletes, doctors etc) don‘t spell the negative consequences out for you of going global or professional, because it is not in their interest. The vast majorities of sports struggles, because they decided to go global or to be professional and had to realise, that there simply is no big market for them. Because, when you go professional, it also COSTS money, which you have to generate. The most sports say then: „Our business model is not viable“. Cycling is not the only sport saying this. I heard it from handball, icehockey, basketball etc. I am always amazed by the ignorance of those with the „broken business model“ idea. They think, if I just find a new trick, all is gonna work out and suddenly interest will be there. But maybe that is part of the problem? When you yourself don’t value, what you do, don’t stand behind it and are willing to change it for a few bucks, how should others value it? That so many strange teams exist in cycling is a sign, that they let everybody in, who has enough money – is that supposed to make us feel good about cycling?

Take away from cycling all those teams/people, who do it for vanity or/and out of nationalism: murdoch, ryan, uae, bahrain, katusha (although they probably not belong here anymore), vaughters (this team is also half/half), astana, bmc. I maybe forgot one or two, but look what is left: The french, belgian, dutch and spanish teams. They are the ones, that are real. Why? Because they have a solid homebase, supporting them. Cycling in these countries is (still) a factor for news, companies etc., because the society is emotionally and culturally(?) invested. Usually you would expect italy to be there too, but I guess, it are internal, italian reasons, into which I don’t want to go now, why it is so muddy there.

So the truth (to me) is, that there simply is no base for more. And no „business model“ of the world will change that. Just like companies fall for the pyramidgame of „internet marketing“, sports fall for the „globalisation/professional“ utopia. And those teams, that I listed, screw the sport for the others, because to them it is not a business enterprise: Tthe team needs more money, they give the team more money – that is not how a normal team can work. And so these teams destroy the whole market and the whole balance. They are a bubble, that brings not much, as it depends on the goodwill of a single person and inflates prices.

Larry T September 19, 2018 at 2:17 am

What? Are you claiming sporting values should be more important than MONEY? IF that’s true, get ready to be called ignorant, naive, a luddite, old-fart, a romantic, nostalgic, and plenty of other terms. Those and plenty more have been lobbed at yours truly over the years.
Sadly, capitalism has too often reduced sport to mere entertainment…and once that idea is complete, the idea of it being for, about and centered on MONEY is an easy sell.
I’m not buying, but the masses, especially those in North America (and perhaps the UK) certainly are – in a way that would make ol’ PT Barnum blush.

J Evans September 20, 2018 at 11:40 am

I largely agree with 123. People can’t see past the dogma they’ve been sold that money is all-important.
Others can’t see past their own ‘fanboyism’ and therefore – deliberately? – misconstrue what others say and thus claim they’re being old-fashioned or jingoistic (they’ve fallen for the ‘globalisation’ myth – globalisation is only and always about money).
If the very rich team really wants to win a GT they generally do – that’s the current state of cycling. The one-day races are still enthralling because that team is largely only interested in 1, maybe 2 races.
People’s complaints are based on them wishing to see good, fair, competitive sport – not a financial hierarchy.

Motormouth September 19, 2018 at 8:59 am

I had to double check the author, as for
A second I thought I might have written this in a mania and blacked out haha. Kudos

RonDe September 19, 2018 at 1:48 pm

“The french, belgian, dutch and spanish teams. They are the ones, that are real.”

Thanks for letting us know. But what sport would you have left if these were the only people who took part? Something nice, quaint and local? And you can bet that ASO, RCS and Flanders Classics don’t want it like this. Ooh, by the way, you missed out the Italians in your list of “real” cycling fans.

Often on this forum “Anglos” come under attack. But when you read comments like that of 123 its clear that the problem for such “Anglos” is that they are seen as outsiders and interlopers spoiling the closed shop that people from certain other countries wish cycling still was. I’ll leave readers to decide for themselves what they think about that.

For myself I think it stinks.

Nick September 19, 2018 at 5:43 pm

I think you misread 123’s post (presumably one of the former anonymous family, given their distinctive quote marks). I read it as saying “once you remove the teams funded by enthusiasts or for nationalist reasons, the only WT teams left are from France, Belgium, Netherlands and Spain. And that those teams are real because they have a sold fanbase at home”. And I think that’s close, although it omits the Germans, the US bike brands (one of whom was referenced, to be fair) and Dimension Data. It’s also unclear to me how state lottery funding is different from nationalist funding:

Enthusiast funding: BMC, Katusha, Mitchelton, Sky
National funding: Astana, Bahrain, UAE
123’s “real teams”: AG2R, FDJ, Lotto*2 Movistar, Quickstep
Others: Bora, DiData, EF-Cannondale, Sunweb, Trek

So I didn’t read it as a dig at “Anglos” (always a weird term if it’s intended to include Welsh riders). Rather that the only places where the fanbase is sufficient to support a pro team without enthusiast/nationalist/bike industry support are the traditional cycling countries. I think it is fair to query whether other countries could support a pro team otherwise? Will Sky continue to exist once Murdoch Jr gets bored?

Davo September 19, 2018 at 2:04 pm

“And I much rather watch a sport, where the riders earn enough to live good and not millions”

Do you feel this way about all elite level athletes or just cyclists?

123 September 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Absolutely. I don’t think, anybody should earn or own millions. Neither atletes, nor managers, entertainers, artists, politicians or whoever. At least not, as long as somewhere else people are homeless or don‘t have enough to eat. I want people to be able to live good from their income and think, their work shoulf reflect itself in their salary – up to a point. We all live together in a society and I think there must be a coherent balance in this society on all points and income is one of them.

123 September 20, 2018 at 1:38 pm

@Nick (don‘t know, where my answer will slot in, as the poor reply button is overwhelmed):
You explained exactly and beautifully my points. How anybody can see the list and think this is against „anglos“ is beyond me and seems to me a bit obsessed (yes, astana and bahrain are so „anglo“!). I am calling these teams „not real“, because they act, as if they have to play by the same market/real rules like „real“ teams, but in truth they don‘t have to. A real team has to deal with certain restraints, that everybody, who has a business, has to deal with: They have to be significant enough in their society/market to warrant people to invest in them. They have to deal with constraints in money and resources. They have to deliver for their sponsor and society, which means, they have to be liked by their fans. And a real team is not dependant on the whim of one person, because it answers to the fans (which then bring a sponsor to invest) and not a rich backer.

A team, which is found by a rich cycling fan or to further nationalism or a political idea, doesn’t necessarily has to win, as long as the rich fan/nationalist is satisfied. Or they only have to win the one race, that the rich backer likes. A nationalist might want to win the biggest race to prove superiority. Or you get one like tinkov, who wants to be the best and win everything (poor ds and riders, I say!). So it isn‘t about satisfying the fans or the sport or the riders with them, but only the rich backer. A rich backer will give money to reach his dreams/goals, that a sponsor in 99% of the times won‘t give, because to the rich backer it is personal. And the list of the differences goes on.

The whole problem is, that the not real teams destroy the balance and market for the rest. For example like tinkov and sky, who pay(ed) money for riders, that no real team ever could or would pay. Because their goal is not to have a cycling team and do good, but whatever the rich backer/nationalist wishes.

As for vaughter‘s team: I doubt, that an american company would find enough worth in cycling to invest in a wt-team, if vaughters wouldn‘t want his own team. So it is a middle thing: It is not real, as there is nobody, who sees worth in investing in cycling in america, but vaughters is not the rich backer himself, so he has an unreal team, yet without the money of the other real teams. So in this regard his team is not that damaging to the real teams like the other unreal teams are.

There are a few teams, on whom I am not knowledgeable enough to form a firm opinion. I would think Bora Hansgrohe is also a middlething, because of Sagan. Sagan is the only rider, that has everywhere appeal and a fan/homebase. And so they are significant and in that, they are also „real“. They also have budget restraints and try to race all their riders good aka giving everybody a chance, not exploiting them for the rich backers goal, which also makes them real. Yet they are formed without real interest in Germany (I know it, I am from there). Cycling is nowhere to be found in news, papers, or mainstream tv ouside the Tour and the Deutschland Tour (and maybe Sagan).

Re the lotto teams: I think they actually prove my point perfectly. The lotto companies have to reinvest a certain amount of their gain in sport (as it is in my country) per law I think. And cycling is significant enough in these countries, that they can give it to cycling and the people say „Yeah!“. There is no german lotto sponsored wt – team, so the difference is easy to spot.

I think, these things always happens, when you make sport a profession, when you put money over sport. It is a logical consequence, as sport and business need different things. And then you get those, who will use money for their agenda, which mostly has nothing to do with sport. You will get „unreal“ things like redbull sponsoring 3 football clubs, who then can act together and have a huge advantage over other clubs. You will have a cycling team sponsored by dubious nations, you will have a stadium, called after another country and so forth. And all this, before we even arrive at the subjects doping, exploitation and harrasment – all things, that drive in such an environment.

Richard S September 19, 2018 at 3:18 pm

I know what you mean. When sport is just arranged as a means of competition it is fine. When it is arranged as a mean of making money it ends up going wrong. A perfect example of this is Rallying, though I’m not sure if anyone knows or cares about it. I used to, but I don’t anymore. It used to be just a series of challenging events where you’d bring your car along and try and finish in the fastest time. They started noticing how much money F1 made, how this was largely because at a couple of hours long max (rather than a week) an F1 race fitted neatly on to Sunday afternoon TV and how it would be great if rally’s could do the same. And shortly afterwards it all went to sh1t. Cycling is going that way. Its not good enough that it is popular in Europe and contested by European riders on European teams. They need to reach new markets and global companies. And in chasing those they will disillusion existing fans and ruin the sport. This hasn’t really got anything to do with Team Sky’s finances though.

RQS September 19, 2018 at 7:46 pm

I think most people would agree money spoils sport – I would leave it at that. We’ve come a long way from the Greek games of ancient times.

As far as I’m concerned all Sport is theatre. You only have to look at Venus Williams histrionics to know this, but beyond that the silent hand of doping which is everywhere destroys the integrity of what we watch. People dope for success, success brings money and the cycle continues.

There is nothing out there that proves cycling isn’t on a grey scale of doping – people do it more or less depending on their ambition (Tiernen-Locke) and money available to them (Armstrong). But I doubt that riders are able to move through the season without assistance whether it improves their performance, or just keeps them on the bike – and part of this is that cyclists are victims of their own success – the interest and money there is in the sport the greater the need to win.

I thank the Lord (or whatever) that we are not football. Sky dominate one race a year. The rest have pretty much been fair game. So while Sky have locked up July, the rest of the twelve months are anyone’s. You might as well start on QS as they have done a great job of hovering up sprints and breaks – the crumbs on which the smaller teams feed on.

Davo September 19, 2018 at 11:16 pm

RQS
Money spoils sport?
So how much time in the last 12 months have you spent watching amateur sport?
And how riveting did you find it?
Surely the theatre is created by what is at stake, be that emotional or financial!
Oh and by the way, it was Serena, not Venus.

RQS September 20, 2018 at 8:24 am

Money undeniably spoils sport and viewing figures show that. Whether it is the NBA, UCI, EPL or whatever. I’m not saying there isn’t a sweet spot financially speaking, but whenever that is the money soon creates hegemonies which suffocate competition, and over paid sports men. Take the EPL, do you really think, based on this last World Cup that the players should be any more expensive than those 16 years ago (even accounting for inflation)?
Football has undergone its own doping issues which I think are being played out behind close doors, and teams are in an arms race to play loaded – teams which can’t afford the doctors etc lag behind. Basketball had its zenith too, and now struggles to create the levels of excitement.

PaulG September 18, 2018 at 10:57 pm

A few years, Mark Cavendish let out that he had found out that Quickstep were wood and laminate flooring manufacturers when some was delivered to his house for some work he was having done…..he noticed the name on the packaging…….He was riding for them at the time!!!!

What chance to educate the general public….????

Eskerrik Asko September 19, 2018 at 12:35 am

You are assuming that QuickStep is directing its marketing efforts to the consumers and that the value of its sponsorship of a cycling team is measured by how many cycling fans, TV viewers and professional riders know what the company manufactures or what kind of product is sold under the brand.

I won’t deny the importance of brand recognition among the general public or the members of it who one day walk into a store, but the main targets of the marketing are those who work with QuickStep products daily, be it in stores or as contractors or whatever, And while that marketing involves a lot of other things, cycling sponsorship is a small and essential part of it and it may be exactly what gives them an edge over other manufacturers and brands in certain markets or certain situations.

Now, Alpecin might be a different story altogether:-) But even in its case the sponsorship is worth nothing if the product doesn’t get a presence in the stores or if the only pros who recommend it to the customers are pro cyclists.

Steven Choi September 19, 2018 at 11:54 am

Na You can’t be serious about this ? But I suppose only a fraction of Brits chosen/picked to join WT teams as opposed to non-English speaking pros. An impression open for dispute of course.

BenW September 21, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Ah you’d be surprised. QuickStep didn’t have a huge presence in the UK at the time he was there, and they still don’t really.

I’ve no idea what the “dominant brand” would be, or even if there was one; but I work in construction and it’s not like I saw QuickStep everywhere in Merchants and Supplier literature or in the merchants/DIY stores I visited. I do see Soudal all over the place, though, I’m a regular customer of theirs and though its unrelated to the sponsorship I obviously do think of the team – I also see a lot of Mapei.

Add this to the infrequent nature of (most people’s) home renovations and I can’t say I’m surprised Cav had no idea.

Nick September 19, 2018 at 12:14 pm

But isn’t that also a product of how often people buy flooring? It’s not like most people stick a couple of floorboards in their weekly shop.

anonymous September 19, 2018 at 1:56 pm

Its a product of how small-minded much of cycling is. You often see it in the comments here too. Many cycling sponsors are only interested in one market or one country. I didn’t know what Quickstep did either for some years. Likewise with Aqua Blue. Many of the European sponsors are enigmas to me and that because they have no interest in telling me who they are as they are not active in my location. Cycling is a matrix of very local concerns in the main with Sky TV being one of the few interested in multiple countries (Sly UK, Sky Italia, Sky ES, Sky Deutschland). But I’ve virtually never seen a Sky billboard at a race or a Sky advert on Eurosport. And Sky barely even show a cycle race on their own channels.

The Inner Ring September 19, 2018 at 2:00 pm

If readers wonder about the sponsors, all the World Tour sponsors are explained here:
http://inrng.com/2018/01/pro-team-sponsors-2018-explained/
and the Pro Conti sponsors here:
http://inrng.com/2018/02/pro-conti-team-sponsors/

Rich September 19, 2018 at 12:58 am

For all of the talk of Sky dominating by having a bigger budget, they very rarely recruit fully formed stars. I would suggest that of their current squad only Kwiatkowski was a big name at the time of signing. They spend their money rewarding and retaining those riders who perform develop into stars.

Larry T September 19, 2018 at 2:21 am

Very true. It’s how they’ve gone about doing it that rubs some of us the wrong way. Not that they are the only ones, but they are the richest, loudest and most arrogant, while also (for now) being the most successful.

Egeo September 20, 2018 at 10:33 am

Not quite. Landa, König, Intxausti, Nieve, were recurrent GT top-tenners (where are König and Intxausti now, by the way?). And Bernal and Moscon were already big names when they were signed (as big as they could be at that age).

Larrick September 20, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Well König has had ongoing knee issues which is a shame because he looked like, at the very worst, he’d be a consistent top class week long stage racer. Beñat has suffered from mononucleosis since he arrived. Less than 20 days racing in two years, he got an extension but this season he rode one of the Hammer series and then disappeared until a DNF in Hamburg I think. That’s it as far as I know so like so many that have had mono, just when you think you’re over it, it hits you again.

Larrick September 19, 2018 at 2:24 am

“There’s been a lot of talk about team budgets, caps and more. Yet there’s no hard data for the World Tour meaning a public debate built on guestimates.“

I note Inrng that the Sky budget consistently shows riders wages around the 70-80% mark of the entire budget and Ag2R are similar if not closer to 70% when including the add ons. The guesstimates that you mention, and many treat like facts, seem to often be undervalued based on suspected rider wages. All things being close to equal, all teams will have a wage bill between 70-80% of their total spend. That would mean the Quicksteps wage bill is less than half of Sky’s. Does this really seem feasible or is it more likely that things like the free frames that Sky account for with a monetary value, aren’t built into team principles comments around the cost to run their teams that the guesses are based on?

bcb September 19, 2018 at 4:34 am

“Don’t confuse staff with riders though, it’s different which explains why the wage bill for staff is only £2.9 million.”

But I am confused about this figure if these staff wages include Brailsford’s pay by itself, let alone adding the money paid to key figures like Ellingsworth & Kerrison. Perhaps they’re paid an honorarium.

wallers September 19, 2018 at 8:44 am

bcb I would imagine that many of the senior staff e.g. Brailsford et al aren’t employed by Team Sky but are self employed contractors to Team Sky. Under UK tax law this is highly efficient and reduces costs for Sky and minimises taxes for the contractor.

Under our crazy & punitive tax laws anyone earning over £40,000 is stupid if they don’t go self employed and actually most people earning about £25,000 will be much better off self employed.

RQS September 19, 2018 at 8:00 pm

Employment status is a hot topic for HMRC. It’s true they could all be self-employed or working through a personal service company, but this does not mean that they are correctly reporting their employment status. HMRC are extremely slow at catching up with tax payers, but catch up they do.
Riders will be treated as sportsmen or performance artists and so are able to be treated as self-employed – in the U.K. withholding is due on payments to them, but the DS’s and soigneurs are a different case. You’d have to get their contract and see what right they have to be supervised, directed and controlled, and a number of other factors.

Steven Choi September 19, 2018 at 12:11 pm

The line goes like this by Tom CruiseJack Nicholson ‘I want the truth… You can’t handle the truth‘ ! ! That’s realistically dramatic. Then not long ago, Lehman Brothers 2008 was even a bigger mystery to me. The news said these professionals are still very well and many work surprisingly as financial consultants. Meaning I do not take number reports as much as I wish to. Except when I get my 2% yearly wage increment.

Richard S September 19, 2018 at 8:50 am

I didn’t read the article because I’m in a rush and finances bore me (sorry Inrng) so I came straight to the comments section to read some frothy mouthed hate on Team Sky. I was not disappointed. I dislike Sky’s boring domination of the Tour as much as most but let’s get some perspective. They have a bigger budget than everyone and have bought a stronger team, so the win more often. That’s all. The same as Man City have done with English football, Bayern with German, Real and Barca have in Spain, Juve in Italy etc etc etc. The same as Ferrari did in F1 in the Schumacher years. I’m guessing those last two didn’t attract as much Italy based angst as Larry and Gabriele have been guilty of lately (nice to have you back Gabriele). It happens in sport basically. And Bernal. Bernal could end up being nothing. Don’t waste time getting upset that he has signed for Sky on a massive wage.

JeroenK September 19, 2018 at 9:45 am

This.

I do not get the upset either. Winners are bound to get the most hate and scrutiny.

There will allways be a team that has the biggest budget, if you do not introduce salary caps, which will probably not happen. I do not think Sky’s budget is as much of problem compared to the unhealthy sponsor climate of cycling as a whole.

Larry T September 19, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Richard S – when one team dominates, no matter who it is or where they are from, the sport becomes dull, dull, dull. Add in that Schumacher, while a fantastic driver was also a world-class a-hole meant there was not much cheering from me back then unless it was for the struggles of Eddie Irvine…a guy from Northern Ireland!

Steve September 20, 2018 at 11:50 am

Presumably you were cheering the fact that the appalling Eddie Irvine struggled. The pig was so notorious for his Weinsteining that it stood out even by the standards of the twats that contest the world’s worst ‘sport’.

Larry T September 21, 2018 at 1:38 am

Yes, I was cheering for his struggle of being #2 on the team under Schumy as somewhat interesting, while knowing nothing about how he might have (what I assume you are claiming) forced women to do things for him in order to advance their careers as Mr. Weinstein seems to have done. Dunno how how any of that really matters as I would not suggest Chris Froome be thrown out of cycling if he engaged in those kind of antics, would you?

Steve September 21, 2018 at 2:27 am

I’m saying he had a well documented reputation as a sex pest, much like Harvey Weinstein, though presumably no ones career was advanced because the only career he could offer was ‘girlfriend of also ran driver’. Chris Froome has actually won many races, so they differ in that way too.
I would expect the inevitable loss of sponsorships and add ons would probably act as a disincentive to anyone considering such behaviour. Even Peter Sagan.

Michael B September 19, 2018 at 6:16 pm

“And Bernal. Bernal could end up being nothing. Don’t waste time getting upset that he has signed for Sky on a massive wage.”

I think that’s probably aimed at my comment. For the record I’m not upset at Bernal’s supposed contract offer, I was just a bit baffled as it seemed Sky were all set to pay TdF winner wages to someone who hasn’t done it yet (notwithstanding his potential).

I thought it was worthy of debate but I’m not upset about it in the slightest though and I’m generally neutral on Sky. If cycling has an issue with their budget it needs to change the UCI rules rather than blame Brailsford. On some issues I have sympathy with Team Sky and on other things I find their decisions questionable (refusing to sign up to MPCC).

Anonymous September 20, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Other sports becoming more dull and dominated by money is not a good reason for cycling to do it.

plurien September 19, 2018 at 1:09 pm

Brailsford and friends in Sky programming might be working on a script they can pitch to Disney execs. It’s a sequel to Breaking Away where The Cutters buy a big black bus and take it on an adventure in Europe.
There are baddies (dope heads with jiffy bags), goodies ( they live on a room with a white floor and a perfect filing system where nothing ever gets lost). There is jeopardy (the doctor character has an identical twin brother who lives over a bike shop and deals in, well anything that could help a rider win ; such as a second hand wheel that may once have been on a podium before the female lead went looking for love and babies) but in the end there is redemption as all the media, all the promoters and the whole pro peloton – bless their lovely souls- come to understand that winning was all the Cutters ever wanted and so the whole Tour helps them to the jersey.
– and that’s how Sky will keep on spending the most folks!

Larry T September 20, 2018 at 3:44 pm

There was an awful sort-of sequel to the excellent Breaking Away. American Flyers. Gawdawful mess that was! Truly awful.

CA September 19, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Welcome back Gabriele! And more importantly welcome to the world of fatherhood! If you’re as dedicated to your daughter as you are to your past life as Inrng’s most informed commenter you will do a great job!

People have mentioned this, and so did Inrng, but I’m shocked it isn’t a bigger issue – the impending takeover and Murdoch stepping down is surely to change Sky’s priorities. While Team Sky’s budget is immaterial to Sky’s organisation now, I highly doubt that Disney or Comcast will keep the cycling team going in it’s current capacity (budget level, without a women’s team, or at all). What do others think about this?

One solution would be for the powers that be in cycling to band together and line up replacements or propose to the Americans to keep the team going…. but that is never going to happen.

Motormouth September 19, 2018 at 9:40 pm

Comcast could actually fit well as a cycling team owner: the Philadelphia Cycling Classic needs a sponsor, it folded this year.

They could take over a team and relaunch the race.

One can dream of high level american racing on the east coast.

Othersteve September 20, 2018 at 7:11 pm

The new “Sky powered by huge US telecom” to be given a TUE exemption.

Allowing the new US WT team to sign and allow Kate Courtney a female to race in WT men’s races.

A real fairy tale.

Anonymous September 20, 2018 at 9:39 pm

You do realise that the majority of cycling fans would rather Sky disappeared without a trace, don’t you?
Ask some non-native English speakers.

Anonymous September 20, 2018 at 10:25 pm

We need a referendum on this…

Nick September 21, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Well, yes. In all sports, the majority of fans dislike the most successful team (putting to one side questions about whether Quickstep are actually more successful). Because even the most well supported team has only ever got a minority of the total fanbase.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Sky are specifically disliked – for reasons given by myself and others elsewhere – it’s not just about them being dominant (in GTs only, as I’ve said elsewhere).
It’s a nonsense to say that Sky are disliked purely because they’re successful – doesn’t happen with other teams – as nonsensical as the suggestion that it is some anti-British bias – as others have claimed.

123 September 21, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Yes, it is a tactic, that is often used and too often works, because people are put on the defense with it: attack the messenger to be able to ignore the message. But in truth it does the opposite of what the attacker thinks it does. He thinks, it lays open the „real“ reason of the messenger, but in truth it lays open many of the true feelings of the attacker. The reason for that is, that we always imagine others to feel/value the same thing, that we feel or value.

This means in this case, that the attacker might claim they love, whatever it is they try to defend, but the reason for their „love“ is exactly, what they accuse others of: they are invested into whatever they claim to love, because of the success and -even worse in my mind – not because they love to win, but because they love that others lose. This means, they will in 99% of the cases leave, once the success leaves, because what they love is superiority, not the thing/action, that gives them superiority.

So as unnerving as it is, that people try these dishonest tactics and don’t answer the message/question, in truth they only show more of themselves, than they would care to show, if they‘d be aware of it. The really difficult, but so important thing is, to not switch off, because no dialogue or debate is possible. It might not be that important when it is about cycling, but as many of these peoole are to be found in the context of ideology (rightwing ideology), the importance of not giving up, can‘t be overstated.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 10:15 pm

123, I agree with you and when it comes to politics I continue to argue.
With this site, I’ve mostly given up of late – cycling just isn’t important enough to waste my energy. Coming back to this page has pretty much confirmed what I thought: it’s not worth it. There are many interesting comments, but all too many of the other variety (and already those who present their points in that matter are saying to themselves ‘You’re just sulking because you don’t like what we say’, because they really don’t get it and continually ignore what people actually say in favour of spouting their dogma.)

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 10:32 pm

123, your point about ‘they love that others lose’ is so true – you see certain people on here endlessly crowing about how poor particular riders are.
And ‘what they love is superiority’: that’s why the moment their hero of choice looks like they might be losing their sheen they swiftly choose another one – getting in quickly before that rider has too much success: e.g. becoming a huge Bernal fan.

RonDe September 21, 2018 at 8:36 pm

@anonymous

Fortunately, sport isn’t run on the basis of the tyranny of the ignorant. Even if they are “non-English speakers”. Who are these people anyway? Froome won the Giro largely without incident and even with Italians sometimes chanting his name. In France, there was noticeably more menace to and from the crowds.

All I learn from this is people in Italy are more polite than people in France. I learn nothing about this convenient grouping “non-English speakers” who, I suspect, are not so uniform in their views as you really wish they were.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 10:20 pm

‘tyranny of the ignorant’ and ‘All I learn from this is people in Italy are more polite than people in France’ in the same comment.
So, you ‘learned’ about the ‘people in France’ from a small number of people – many of whom won’t have been French – standing at the side of a bike race.

SLO_cyclist September 19, 2018 at 4:42 pm

So, the most important of all…how much goes for riders?

UHJ September 19, 2018 at 9:32 pm

Slightly OT but also sligtly OnT: A nice article (though it may have be written with tinted glasses) on the EF-Education First team set up: https://www.velonews.com/2018/09/news/we-bought-a-cycling-team-inside-ef-education-firsts-pro-cycling-experiment_478719
It goes without saying that this is not the complete story but nevertheless impressive, I find.

Egeo September 20, 2018 at 10:20 am

The thing about Team Sky’s money is what it’s used for. For instance:
– buying potential rival riders and turning them into gregari, just allowing them to contest minor races.
– hiring (successfully) expensive lawyers and specialists over a doping case and even intimidating the regulator with the threat of financial liabilities, thus obtaining a different treatment than other riders got for comparable findings.

Not fair by any standard of fair sportive competition. It’s hilarious that some prefer to talk about the supposed motivations of some commentators in the face of such a situation (a deflective tactic typically employed by crooked right-wing politicians, by the way).

Tovarishch September 20, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Would you care to provide some, proven, examples to support your argument?

Anonymous September 20, 2018 at 9:42 pm

People give many reasons they don’t like Sky – suspected cheating, financial dominance, etc. – the Sky fans on here almost always respond with one of: ‘greed is good’, ‘you’re just bitter’, ‘you’re anti-English’.
They almost never refute the actual points made.
(And as Egeo says, this is ‘a deflective tactic typically employed by crooked right-wing politicians’.)

Larrick September 21, 2018 at 1:53 am

There are no “points made” that are based in fact.

Let’s try shall we to have an actual debate. Which “rival” has Sky ‘bought’ and turned “into gregari, just allowing them to contest minor races.”?

Please provide any facts which support the assertion that Froomes case allowed him to “thus obtain a different treatment than other riders got for comparable findings” and what “intimidation” occurred.

Finally, “And as Egeo says, this is ‘a deflective tactic typically employed by crooked right-wing politicians’.)”. You know what else is a right wing tactic used all the effing time? Making statements that have no facts to back them up and in reality equal lies and as soon as someone points this out they say, “this is a deflective tactic…”. I will assume that if you don’t come back with any facts, that I’m correct because to have an opinion based in fantasy means that you can’t refute the points because there are no facts to refute. Surely this is obvious. So furnish some facts and let the debate begin.

Anonymous September 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

Again?

Larrick September 21, 2018 at 10:27 am

Superb response Anonymous. You do you argument proud. You may yet get that intern position at the White House…

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 10:55 am

Sorry, anon was me.
Is there any point in me listing the various suspicious practices we’ve seen surrounding Sky/BC?
We all know them.
If I do list them on this forum, the stock responses are:
When it comes to doping:
‘They weren’t found guilty’ – that’s very much the point.
‘Where are the facts?’ – again, that’s very much the point: we don’t know the facts.
‘You’re just anti-British/anti-Sky’ – deflection.
When it comes to Sky’s wealth:
‘It’s happened before/happens in other sports/it’s all about winning/having the strongest team is a part of cycling’ – none of those make Sky’s domination of the GT’s it chooses to win any more exciting to watch – which, for me, is the point of sport (for the teams/riders, the point is winning).
‘Do you want to stop money coming into the sport?’ – this comes down to the belief – drilled into us in all aspects of society – that more money = better. For me, it doesn’t. Leaving aside, the rest of society, I think for cycling not having the rich dominate would make for a better sport – and a cap of some sort would therefore be a good thing.
I’m not agreeing with Egeo’s specific points, it’s the general responses to any criticism of Sky/BC that I find so tiresome.
I think it would be a good thing to stop one ultra-rich team dominating the sport – both on the road and, perhaps, in the ‘courtroom’. My reason is entertainment and not any kind of bias, etc.

Richard S September 21, 2018 at 11:18 am

I’m not against a salary cap, I think it would be a good idea. But don’t assume it would make anything more interesting. You’re saying that you don’t like how Sky’s money allows them to dominate. But if you take money out of it someone will dominate by another means. Superior coaching, better talent scouting, better tactics or a combination of everything from just generally being better managed. There is a salary cap in American Football but New England Patriots have managed to dominate for getting on 20 years by means of finding and securing the best talent (Tom Brady playing the part of Chris Froome) and being better ran and coached than their rivals. They are widely disliked as all dominant teams are. If you had a salary cap someone would find the generational talent that is set to dominate regardless of who they ride for – the next Sagan/Froome/Merckx/whoever – they would win all the time and everyone would complain. And if they weren’t French all hell would break lose on the roads of France in July.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 11:36 am

Richard S, I largely agree: that MIGHT happen. But even if it did, at least it would be down to some form of talent/knowledge rather than just money.
Also, I do think that taking money out of the equation, somewhat, would make such dominance much less likely.
I disagree with your last sentence. The French haven’t won a TdF for over 30 years. In that time, there has been much grumbling, but nothing like the dissatisfaction that has been expressed about Sky/Froome.
Once again, the idea is put forward that this is just the French being bitter, but that is simplistic and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny: Indurain was not pilloried in the same way and even the widely disliked Armstrong wasn’t.
Partly, this is probably down to differences in media.
However, the difference is also that in terms of doping neither rider was considered to be doing anything much different from other teams (we don’t know if that is true of them, or of Sky, but the view was/is widely held).
In terms of finances, Armstrong’s team was probably similarly dominant, whereas I don’t think Indurain’s was (but I don’t know).
Also, the racing in the TdF was not as dull as it is now. (This is not Sky’s fault: they have come up with a successful formula.) There were plenty of dull TdFs that MI and LA won, but even Postal didn’t ‘crush’ the race like Sky do.
I think a lot of people’s dissatisfaction comes more from boredom than it does bitterness about finances or beliefs about doping.
That boredom is the main problem. It comes down to how do you sort that.

Larrick September 21, 2018 at 12:28 pm

J Evans – My response was specifically to Egeo and their statements of belief. I find it a bit rich to complain that people don’t refute but use ‘tactics’ when there’s nothing given to refute but airy statements.

As for your points, I watch far too much cycling to think Sky dominate at all. Quickstep at certain times maybe but not Sky. At the moment there’s been 175 ‘wins’ available this season in WT races. Sky sit on 19. That’s 10.8%. Bora are only 1 win less and MTS 2 more. Quickstep have 33 wins or 18.85%. If you then add in the European tour, Sky are even worse. Taking out NCup, 1.2, 2.2 and National Champs there’s been 115 winners so far this year not including stages. So that’s GC and one day winners. Out of 115 Sky have 4 wins. That’s FOUR. Wellens and Degenkolb had 4 Euro Tour wins between them by the middle of February. Larry hasn’t even got out of bed by then. So that’s 23 wins out of 290. What’s that word? Dominating. Hmmm.

As for salary caps. There’s so many ways to get around them that even forgetting the difficulty in making it work across different countries, they wouldn’t work. Can you really imagine all those that accuse Sky of cheating without facts of not accusing them of the same and abusing a salary cap?

I just don’t know why people who are sick of Sky ‘domination’ (7.9% on stats provided) don’t just watch less GTs and more of the fantastic racing out there where Sky hardly rate a mention.

Richard S September 21, 2018 at 12:47 pm

The Armstrong were worse. Far worse if it was a contest you were after. I’m too young to remember the Indurain years in any detail but its easy enough to read about and see that he was vastly superior to all his rivals. I think Armstrong’s dominance was more about him than his team. The Tour followed a fairly set formula in his era. Opening prologue, flat stages, long individual or team time trial, first batch of mountains, flat stages, second batch of mountains, long individual time trial, Paris finish. Armstrong generally would win or place highly in the prologue, win the next time trial, win the first mountain stage in dominating fashion, win the blue riband mountain stage such as Alpe d’huez or whatever and win the second time trial. Basically all the important stages. It got incredibly tedious by the end. There was one year when Ullrich had managed to lay off the cakes long enough to be in shape and Armstrong got dehydrated in a time trial and lost a bit of time. Ullrich got to within a minute of him. That was about as good as it got. Froome commonly wins by quite small margins and is in the lead by a relatively small amount, no doubt due to the changes in course design, so there is at least the idea that he might fall into the grasp of his chasers. There were no such delusions in Armstrong’s Tours. Plus he won 7 of them, not 4. The passage of time can do all sorts to the memory.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Larrick, as I’ve said, Sky’s dominance is only in GTs – they generally win the ones they aim to win. I’m not in any way claiming they dominate one day races, for instance.
As for salary/budget caps, people would push the rules, of course, but you’d still have a more equal overall situation than you do now.
Other sports manage to have caps, cycling could too.

Richard S September 21, 2018 at 1:01 pm

I agree Larrick. Sky’s domination is really Froome’s domination and it could be argued that they just got lucky in finding him. Sky don’t dominate sprints, classics, hilly one dayers or one week stages races because they don’t have the generational freak for those kinds of races, or the kind of strength in depth that Quick Step has. They dominate the one race that everyone watches and that one nation is utterly obsessed with. At various stages in Skys time Cavendish, Cancellara, Boonen, Valverde, Gilbert, Sagan and Van Avarmaet have displayed similar levels of domination in their area of expertise without the same questions and vitriol.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 12:44 pm

I don’t think 123’s points are emotive: they’re perfectly rational.

Larrick, I have specifically and deliberately only mentioned GTs and – here or elsewhere – even then only the GTs that Sky aim for.

‘I just don’t know why people who are sick of Sky ‘domination’ (7.9% on stats provided) don’t just watch less GTs and more of the fantastic racing out there where Sky hardly rate a mention.’
– That’s precisely what I do. But I’d rather watch interesting GTs as well.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Oops – bad copy and pasting –

‘I don’t think 123’s points are emotive: they’re perfectly rational.’ was not meant to be here.

Larrick September 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

J Evans. Right. So it’s not they’re dominating cycling, just really one race. The Tour. A bit like an English football team being rubbish in the league week in week out. Failing in the FA and League Cups, playing only well enough to scrape through the group stages of the Champions League but then going on a run to regularly win the Champions League Final. That particular team is disliked so the rules need changing so they don’t win so often even though they don’t win much else. Have I got that right?

I’m currently watching the rugby league semi in Melbourne from home in Sydney. Both team have been caught out on multiple occasions fiddling the salary cap. They don’t work at all. The teams that had the most money and the best rosters before the salary cap still have the best rosters. (As an aside the team currently ahead was stripped of titles for breaches and is owned by News Ltd…) The only thing I could see working to even out the strength of the WT teams is a draft system. The problem is how do you tell a young rider that they have to ride for a team from a different country? How do the Pro Conti teams ever move up?

The other thing to remember is that though there’s no doubt Sky spend more than the majority, whereas if Quickstep get free wheels or usage of a wind tunnel it’s not counted in the estimated budget, everything Sky can write off they do. Rupert has an aversion to paying tax and there’s no way their sponsorship money plus prize money and any other income won’t be slightly less than their costs even if the costs don’t really exist…

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Larrick, that’s clearly not what I’ve said. Evidently, there’s no point in me repeating myself.

RonDe September 21, 2018 at 8:42 pm

So EGEO you want to complain about the fact that:
Sky buy riders?
Sky defend themselves when accused of something they don’t believe to be true?

Please can you list all the riders Sky ARE allowed to buy so we can all know?
Please can you provide a list of really cheap lawyers Sky can have for future reference?

After all, I’m sure Sky wouldn’t want to upset your clearly fair and unbiased sensibilities.

Then, when you’ve woken up from your wet dream, please don’t go outdoors. Because the real world is nothing like you imagine.

123 September 21, 2018 at 9:25 pm

Could you please stop insulting others and being so aggressive? I really like this to be a civil, open, peaceful and mostly respectful place. This was for the most part a civil debate with differing opinions, a few misunderstandings and even more ideas – why are you so aggressive? We all can have different opinions, no need to get all upset by that and insult others and disrespect them. Why making it always personal and force other with that to make it personal, too? This is getting so boring.

We all could go there, but we don‘t for the most part and I doubt you or anyone would like it, if we all just let go of civility and respect. It is a real shame, that you always have to sabotage yourself like you did with the post to the cpa with calling it a „joke operation“ (but you are not alone with it (sabotaging yourself) I give you that). Imagine, how cool it would be, if your ideas could really be debated instead that many people dismiss most of what you say because of bias and aggression. It seems that you sabotaging yourself can‘t be helped, but at least don‘t insult others.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 10:08 pm

Well said 123. It’s gone on for far too long and seems to be most of his posts.
I can’t claim to be Mr Delicate and Sensitive myself, but RonDe’s comments are a relentless tirade against all who disagree with him.

J Evans September 20, 2018 at 11:26 am

The more Sky dominate financially the less interesting the sport is for everyone except Sky fans.
Some sort of cap is possible – happens in other sports – and very much needed.

Motormouth September 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm

I think there is a second part to that – yes, you don’t want one team financially dominating, but you also don’t want that to lead to other teams raising their budgets in kind (theoretically). ‘Big Money’ sports are pretty much awful, and that’s what threatens to happen when the regulators/officials allow one team to exploit a lack of rules to gain an unfair advantage. Escalation etc.

123 September 21, 2018 at 12:10 am

Exactly. It becomes about being competitive in money and not in sport. And so you go down a road of one questionable decision after another till you end up with a cycling team, sponsored by a country, that puts a whole family in prison, because one of them protests against the king. Or have your local football club owned by people of the same calibre. And besides losing your morale compass, you end up alienating the people, who till there carried you through, because they love the sport.

I wish we all would be more educated in critical, logical thinking. Because the absence of this is to me the thing, that damages our world the most. By far. Everything we do has consequences, yet people mostly are satisfied with looking at the things, that do not conflict with their convenience and emotions and rather kick the problematic consequences of their actions further down the road. „Somehow, someone will do something about it“. That is not how it works.

This lack of thinking almost alludes to living in a fantasy world. During the Vuelta one of our tv commentators always did go on about Keldermann‘s loss of time with a mechanical and „if you take the time he lost there away, he would be so much higher on GC“. That is a fallacy. If he wouldn‘t have lost time, he and others would have reacted different. Maybe he gained time in other stages, because of the fright in stage 6? Maybe he lost more time, because he was cooked? And so forth.

And so the commentator went on to say Keldermann had a very good Vuelta, because, if this did not have happened, he probably would have ended higher up the GC. In truth Keldermann was in nowhere land with 11.11 minutes down and lost in stage 6 a little under 2 minutes. But such is the lack of the ability to think, that those (emotional) ideas shape our beliefs and that this person and some of his viewers still think Keldermann would have done great things, if we just would have not this damed, unjust thing, called reality!

Martin D September 21, 2018 at 8:44 am

Great thread here. Just mention the S word and stand back as everyone gets exercised.

@123 I think that sport presents a microcosm of the conflict between economic and cultural value.

Sport’s high cultural (emotional) value is the reason it has high economic value. But the uncontrolled economic exploitation of this cultural value inevitably weakens the sport and diminishes it’s cultural value.
The same is true in the arts, but the arts are often too individualised to be socially relevant in the way that sports are.

I see capitalism’s end game in the examples you list of communal sporting identities being bought and coopted.

My opinion is that a balance between the values would be optimal, but that is best achieved by prioritising the cultural value.

And, in response to your interesting points re reality perception, I believe working towards a similar balance between our human capacities for logic and emotion is the foundation for creating balance on a societal level.

Ferdi September 21, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Very relevant point. Cycling carries so much cultural value. Linked to the lands, ecosystems, town roads, countrysides, it takes place in. Also linked to being traditionally the epitome of toil: a simple guy, laboriously turning the pedals the whole day, clad in silly clothes and cap, under all sorts of weather, under all sorts of terrain, visibly battling exhaustion yet without complaining… Such a powerful image, such a strong symbol. It’s this big cultural value that has allowed cycling to bear the crazy amount of cheating and over-professionalization it has had since it was born. As if such tremendous hardship made all the business, all the corruption, and all the buy-and-sell palatable.

123 September 21, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Indeed, I would be the happiest person on earth, if you could level the human and material interest (someone was speaking about a „sweet spot“, where both can coexist), but I think like you, it is simply not possible. And we have in the past and present more than enough examples, that it is not possible, if you weigh both equally. I think this is due to their „nature“. Capitalism (to use a shorthand) will always destroy the balance, if you don‘t tame it. That is, because it‘s nature is expansive (canibalistic?). Take tourism. One would think, people are smart enough to not destroy or overwhelm their livehood. Yet they do. Because capitalism means more. And at one point it always means more than is good for it‘s own good. Yet it doesn‘t care, it is like people are on a deathwish once they are set on capitalism.

So I think it is an illusion, that capitalism or „the free market“ is good for people or will work for the people. It is the other way around. Instead, that capitalism works for our good, we work for the good of capitalism. Just look what we do: we use so much up for capitalism (products, travel, convenience), that we destroy the planet we live on. How stupid can we be? Capitalism is like a fire. Good, if you keep it in check, deadly, if you let it lose. The problem is, that all initial good intentions to keep it in check always falter before those promising stars (if you go global, you have suddenly sooo much more people to pitch your stuff to, imagine, if just 1 of 10 would be interested, you could be BIG!!!) or threatening hell (if you strike, you will lose your job, if you tax companies, they will leave). So why don‘t we learn before it is too late (this year and it‘s fires, floods, heatwaves and what happens since 2016 is maybe, hopefully a wakeup for many around the globe) and accept the truth.

And the truth is exactly what you wrote: We need capitalism, but at the same time we have to work hard against capitalism, so it doesn‘t destroy us, because if you give it the same power/value /freedom as other things like our human needs, identity, it will always keep on destroying them. Us. Exactly like fire. You don‘t give fire wood and air enough to destroy you. You work against it‘s bad instincts (to grow, till it can‘t grow further, because it destroyed everything), so it is useful to you.

For the first time, almost the whole world is run on capitalism. We don‘t have communism or socialism as big players anymore. And the result of that capitalistic world is disastrous. One could say it is a disaster like a flood, the pest, famine. I know, it is difficult to say „no“, it is for me too, because we are conditioned by those with interest in capitalism and a 24/7 cycle of news, ads, entertainment to say yes to money and everything we can buy with it. But there is an easy trick for that: I prefer to see it as a „yes“ to being human and not a „no“ to capitalism and then suddenly it isn‘t at all that difficult.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 10:43 pm

123, you say: ‘We need capitalism’ – and there we disagree.
You list many problems that capitalism causes and suggest that it should be controlled.
It can’t be controlled and used well because it is working as it is intended – it is an inherently unfair system.
There are better systems – some will say ‘Why haven’t they worked then?’ The answer to that is that they have never been allowed to exist without coming under attack from the rich and powerful, who realise that capitalism is the one system that most benefits them and who also realise that the most important thing for them is that the masses don’t realise that there are better ways of running our societies.
It’s more than a little off-topic, but screw it, I suspect I won’t be commenting again for a while anyway.

Tovarishch September 20, 2018 at 2:03 pm

So Sky goes to auction on Friday. Can we crowdfund a bid?

Richie September 20, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Its tough to get results when you’re over 40, but this can realy help. https://bit.ly/2Djo129

Steven Choi September 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Haven’t read all the comments/threads but I saw just that many ‘Sky’ words in and between lines … then I thought … I pass!
Sky is the limit as long as forum has got her forum space open , xxxx TB allowed … not sure how much one has to put in $$$ on a yearly basis?
Only months ago I had one bib with huge logo SKY on it a genuine one. (Disclaimer: Not a huge fan of Sky nor any pros associated). First time wash followed by another careful machine wash rendered it one size down. Fate said I am done with her.
I promise I go back reading more when household chores get done. So many good essayists here.

gabriele September 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm

I’m very sorry not to be able to read through the whole lot of new comments, which look promising, indeed.

Re: RonDe’s “answer”, to call it in a way, I guess I should appreciate that even the most radical Froomie’s fan I know has been made nervous, very nervous, by the ongoing situation. Stress on *ongoing*. A spark of consciouness was awakened somewhere deep into the blind fandom? I suppose, and it would made sense, that the past taught something even to those who are so obstinate in misunderstending it.
Not been caught is one thing, impunity is a whole different matter. And impunity calls for serious cynicism.

Paternity? Anglophobia? Lack of information? Spare me.
The anglophobia argument is especially dull, and it deserves a couple of lines more because it’s more widely spread than RonDe’s delusional victimism.

Personally, I haven’t hold back when I had to spend some harsh words on the “clean French teams” legend, or about MAPEI and Movistar. I was *very* harsh when writing about the Italian Cycling Federation… and I took BC as a positive term of comparison. I was among the first to write one thing or two about the Dutch teams before the Rabobank scandal was made public, when everybody was still obsessed with other “situations”.
Besides, Angloamerican culture is one of my field of professional specialisation as a researcher. If I wasn’t fond of that, feel assured that I’d have found another way to make a living, given that nowadays academy isn’t exactly the best working place ever ( https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Great-Shame-of-Our/239148 ).
Hence, please find better excuses.

By the way, what Team Sky did with cycling is one form of what is called “extraction of value”. F1, cited by somebody above before the big flood of comments came in, is a good example of the same general concept, there put in action with different means. And that’s one thing.
Then, there’s WADA’s more and more manifest role as a political body with its own agenda which isn’t exactly first and foremost fighting against doping. And it’s not an “universally” representative or balanced structure, either. Something which, by the way, had been already underlined before the salbufarce.

It’s very frustrating not to be able to read through all the comments, which might mean I’ll go back to complete abstinence. It’s a pity, but as for now riding is the priority when allocating cycling-related leisure time is concerned.

Anonymous September 21, 2018 at 4:42 pm

RonDe will call you a racist if you’re not careful.

gabriele September 21, 2018 at 12:59 pm

I just read 123 expanding on the idea of “real” and “not real” and it’s really interesting, much more interesting than it looked through the lens of people answering her, to whom, on turn, I was myself answering… although I’m not sure about UK, that is, there’s some tradition there and it looks like there’s a whole social change pushing cycling as an all-around part of life. We’ll see.
I’m not at ease with this partial style of reading, really, and I must really go now ^__^

123 September 21, 2018 at 5:04 pm

It is nice to hear from you again! I missed especially your passion for knowledge. And I am glad some people understood what I mean. I do understand, that it is difficult or better impossible to keep emotions out of it (on my side and others side), but I try it as best as I can and am happy, if others can, too. I know, what you mean with uk, but – for various reasons – think it isn‘t „real“ in the way I used the word. The reasons why I think this, are too complex for a comment section, but their highly controlled media landscape and partisanship(?) in many parts of society play a role. I do think, that riding a bicycle will stay with uk, but I don‘t think road cycling will have any significance there. Similar than it is with us here in Germany, where riding a bike belongs to normal life, but road cycling is marginal.

But you could of course be right and I might be totally wrong about uk. Or about anything. Which would be fine, I am not allknowing, I just think. And form opinions/theories on what I observe and think and put it out there, because I think it is important to question things more, than we do these days. My ideas are to be debated and questioned like any other opinion and I am proud, that I changed my mind on quite some opinions in my lifetime and hope to keep on doing so.

gabriele September 21, 2018 at 5:18 pm

“Fire and fear, good servants, bad lords” (UKL, The Left Hand of Darkness).
Add capitalism to that, as long as I’m concerned. Notable contribution above by 123, very good points. The nature of capitalism is post-human, that’s why it’s called like that.

Anonymous September 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm

„Capitalism is post-human“ gave me an amusing thought-picture of a world, where we finally managed to erase ourselves from the planet and the machines, computers we programmed, would go on to produce, create indexes, power and so forth without us, till they stop fuhction one after the other (or wouldn’t they…? Tatatatamm, suspense!). That would indeed mean, that capitalism is posthuman – in the literal sense of it!

123 September 21, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Sorry, anonymous was me

Martin D September 21, 2018 at 6:50 pm

I’ve been wanting to write this sketch for ages. Apologies if I’m out of line. Zap me if I am.

Road Cycling in the UK? It’s crazy over here. Literally thousands of Wiggins Warriors out on our bikes swarming the roads every Sunday morning. Cars are obsolete till 1pm. There’s no room for them among the endless Skybots in fake Team kit from a Chinese Ebay vendor. Everyone’s got a compact chainset with a 32t cassette. Everyone spins 110 bpm all the time. Sky training it full gas with our elbows sticking out at right angles, heads all tilted to one side, eyes down rivetedg to the garmin: Spinners CC, Whiskers CC, Spear and Shield Velo – the secret cult high priested by Ron De. And in his motor home, parked up by the gate to Marchlyn Mawr, Dave Brailsford sips a cuppa soup and laughs thinly as he recalls those French teams that didn’t offer him a contract when he was an aspiring young rider.

RonDe September 21, 2018 at 8:55 pm

These robes are a nightmare to cycle in Martin.

Martin D September 21, 2018 at 9:04 pm

Nice one Ron

Motormouth September 19, 2018 at 8:54 am

It was hard to find scientific consesus on the age a child can begin cycling but the best was a – surprise – denmark study which pegged it around 9-10mo, so that’s what I did wih my daughter (now 3.5). But I’ve had friends start far younger.

In regards to sleep sanity, I was taught and used the ‘shushing’ method – if you are unaware of Harvey Karp and ‘happy baby’ find it now. It’s like baby magic when the child won’t go to sleep – the fundamentals are so good.

hoh September 20, 2018 at 1:24 pm

If you really want to go academic on this, then both FDJ & Lotto Jumbo NL are semi-national teams funded in part by national lottery (Lotto Jumbo NL’s sponsor, if I remember correctly, is stipulated by law that they need to spend any profit on furthering culture and sporting in the country). So naturally these two teams has an element of nationalism in them.

Then there’s AG2R, Bora, Sky, the other lotto, DiData, quickstep which fall into the coporate marketing bracket. Sky is the less pure example as Modock junior is a fan. diData is probably a purer example where they are using cycling to showcasing their capabilities as well as to promote the Quebec cycling charity. But then again, I also remember the Diloette money come as a result of an executive being a “fan” and may move a way once the person retire/leave.

Finally, who is real fan? If you define British fans as not real because they are attracted by Sky’s TDF success, then they are as fake as Slovenia fans attracted by Sagan’s successes.

To be honest, when one start to talk about “real fan base”, it gets into a lot of subjective BS.

If one hates Sky, that’s fine. Manchester City fans probably hates Man United with a passion. That’s the nature of sports and it is good in a way. What is not good is when people trying to find some dubious & hyproctic moral high ground to make their hature noble or “for the good of cycling”.

Anonymous September 20, 2018 at 3:38 pm

I am Slovenian cycling fan and I do not like this Peter Sagan. You must be talking about Slovakia fans. A curse on you

James Powers September 21, 2018 at 4:54 am

What is not good is when people trying to find some dubious & hyproctic moral high ground to make their hature noble or “for the good of cycling”.

Its funny how the hatred of TeamSky seems to be so often on nationalistic grounds; particularly the extreme hate that comes with an anti-British sentiment (you only have to look at the nationality of the Twitter trolls as an example of this – the majority appear to be from Irish or Australian stock). The actions of TeamSky often seem to bring this on themselves. Where I struggle to accept this hate is when it is dolled out to individuals, in particular, those individuals who appear to act in a decent, unassuming way when subject to this extreme abuse.

The abuse levelled at Chris Froome over the last couple of years seemed to be inflated by the lack of defence put up by him or for him. The difference between the reactions to his grand tour wins and the recent Thomas, Yates wins was striking. Perhaps this was because the support they received from being Welsh and English put off the more cowardly trolls from the same level of abuse they give Froome.

123 September 21, 2018 at 6:37 am

I think you didn‘t understand the way in which I used the words real and not real. Instead of getting emotional (that I as a woman have to say that!) and all defensive, it would help to really read, what I wrote (and maybe also to read my comment on the point of logical thinking vs emotional thinking in another comment). Real is, when a sport plays a role in a society aside from an engineered hype. When it really happens in the national mind and is anchored in society. usa is a good template for an engineered hype: when nobody pushes that hype, it will die down. So it happened after 7-8 years with armstrong, postal etc..

But in France, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands and Italy, cycling and cycling sport are part of the society in everyday life. Cycling happens in the news and the conversations. Cycling belongs to the fabric of these countries and their history. Yet their realness is threatened amongst other things by the unreal teams, because it means, that the sport changes, as it no longer developes natural and becomes incomprehensible. People turn away. And this turning away is no dramatic event, but a slow dying down of significance and passion. When once a town was proud to have a race, they now debating about the closing down of roads. When once you had people helping out at the local amateur team, you now have only family members helping out.

And so the decision of a federation to get starry eyed, because of the neverending imagined possibilities of globalisation (neverending, because they never start is my point of view) or the promises of a person/company to invest, can well lead to the demise of a sport in the end or it becoming meaningless, when the supporters leave because of the hypers and the hypers end their shift, because as a hype is not real, it can‘t go on forever.

Maybe now it gets clearer what I meant with „real“ and „not real“ and why Sagan is of course real. At least as long, as we don’t see Team Slovakia or Team Slovakian Post built for him. He is one way how a sport starts to become real and significant in a country in a natural way (which is a long journey). Maybe, if we are lucky, that will happen in Slovakia in the next 20 years. He is the example of a „real hype“ in contrast to an „engineered hype“. The difference lies in their respective nature and in the consequences they will have.

You can of course start a cycling team from a non cycling nation and hope to make the sport significant in your society, if you do it in a natural way. But in all honesty, I doubt it is possible. And I guess, that is why we see all the unreal teams, that only exist because of the wish of one person/group. Because the natural, real way takes time and is not glorious. Instead it is a steady, slowly progression, where you win people over bit by bit and build significance in the life of people. Why I doubt, it is possible? We see it in australia, where the wt-team is unable to get sponsors even after getting help from the uci with gifting them an australian wt-race, even after having an australian Tour winner and several years of existence. We see it in usa and england, where pro conti and conti teams fold, because nobody is willing to invest even the tiny amount of money it would need to run them. And why should they, there simply is no return on it, no compelling reason to sponsor a cycling team. We saw it in Switzerland, where the excellent IAM team folded and bmc also is out of existence, because it sadly has lost it‘s rich backer.

In Germany, maybe Ullrich could have kickstarted cycling in the way Sagan does in Slovakia, if it were not for doping. At one point there were 3 german top teams (and they were not sponsored by the bike industry!) and when people came to the office at Monday, they talked about the race from the weekend. But it was partly an engineered hype and maybe that was the reason, why it couldn‘t survive doping in the way teams could survive it in France, Spain etc. Today Germany has as many cycling teams not for profit (Team Bike Aid and Team Embrace the world, both do races to support people with cycling in countries, that don’t have many resources for sport) as it has WT teams. I think, this says a lot.

I think, what is needed instead of tallking about a „broken business model“ or „ cycling, the sleeping giant“ (the lotto nl guy) is some reality and honesty. That we love something, doesn‘t mean it is important to others in the real world. Even the smallest f1 races, a sport, which is bashed on the regular, create tweets in the high ten thousands – a number any cycling race can only dream about. BUT (and this is really, really important!): That other sports do better, has none, absolutely none significance for cycling. I am almost shocked, when people say: „Other athletes earn millions, why do cyclists not earn the same money?“ Or: „Other sports get millions for tv rights, why has cycling to pay tv for getting on tv“. And it aren’t only fans saying that, even people in cycling say such strange things. What absurd logic is that? Just because one author can sell books, doesn‘t mean everybody can.

There is no other business model for cycling, unless you want to go into kirmesse racing and entertainment, what some are already trying with „events“ with racing, alcohol and music. I fear, this is, where some wt teams also will go to. Of course then we leave the realm of sport entirely and enter directly into the entertainment industry.

The point you make on the lotto teams I answered in a comment above. I also don‘t think the Slovakians like to be called Slovenians that much.

Sorry, that this is so long.

gabriele September 21, 2018 at 12:41 pm

@hoh
Nobody – or at least, not me ^__^ – said that British fans aren’t “for real”, although surely a long-term engagement with the sport might grant that a little more insight is a little more common in a given national public. However, those are always statistical generalisations… UK’s got a fine historical tradition in cycling, too, besides an all-around recent promotion work by institutions which is worth of the greatest praise: hence you’ll easily find there the well-informed and/or the long-term fan, not merely the albeit flashy @UKcyclingexpert sort of.
My point is that UK’s public is relatively tiny in numbers, that’s all. When people make up their thoughts about cycling’s reality extrapolating their local British (or USA) reality, that might not work properly (the “cycling is a niche sport” kind of ideas, for example). The vast majority of cycling’s fan base, in terms of sheer figures, is granted by Italy, France, Spain, Benelux (you might add Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and some Scandinavian countries… or not). That’s not necessarily related to the importance of the local cycling movement, either (think Australia).
More than half of the TdF global audience comes from the core countries. UK makes 5% or so in its best years.
It’s not about being real. It’s about… “being”.

Anonymous September 21, 2018 at 8:25 pm

I am a Slovakian cycling fan, and I also think that those Slovenian fans of Peter Sagan are fake! 🙂

Ecky Thump September 21, 2018 at 7:20 am

This is all very emotive, and romantic even, and I do have a lot of empathy for some of your points.
But your over-riding notion that the great sport of cycling is threatened with ruin by the introduction of non-cycling nations as you call them and their big bucks, does not address the issue that professional cycling continued to shoot itself in the foot with its chequered doping history.
This hasn’t been introduced by Team Sky but has been a part of the sport since its inception.
This has been the single most important factor in limiting the growth and spread of the sport.
And you cannot blame that on Team Sky and their finances.

That and an inward and backward looking approach to new ideas and innovation.
It seems the French can’t time trial for instance?

However I do not want to turn the debate to nationalist prejudice. There are things all sides can learn from each other.
For the time being, Team Sky’s finances have changed the sport – in both positive and negative ways.
It remains to be seen for how long they and their money will be around.

Motormouth September 21, 2018 at 5:47 pm

To defend America; I think the image of ‘cycling enthusiasm’ in the USA during the Lance era was more about the American Exceptionalism of him, and celebrity than any change in our perception of biking or road racing. This country simply loves a celebrities, and a backstory.

You need to look at most things in this country (my country) through the lens of individualism to understand why I can divorce the two pieces. We don’t consider systems, places, teams quite as deeply as it seems. You can see this in how our local teams are not staffed with local players (and no one cares, and actually would be pissed off if the team wasn’t paying for the best possible players via drafting) and how a teams can move cities with little outrage.

Cyclesports – triathlon/ironman/xterra is noticeably hot right now, but still road racing, gravel fondos, mtb and cx (to a lesser extent) are still alive and well in this country and bike companies and shops make a good profit. BMX is big (and is an American innovation to bicycles, as are MTBs). Some of the largest cycling companies are/were American (Specialized, Trek, Cannondale, Cervelo — three main sponsors of the world tour, Felt and so on). Bikeshares are more supported (read: subsidized) and modern here than in some european pioneers it seems. Electric bikes are going to explode too.

To rattle off some ideas – The failure/disappearance of sanctioned high level races like Tour of Georgia, Philadelphia Cycling Classic etc has more to do with the way our governments work and the politics of it all than a lack of popular support. Same with national amateur bike racing not being at the same level as Europe (which also has to do with the way youth sports are setup in this country differently and the issues that presents). The car-centricity of society and public infrastructure as a driver for the duality of perceptions. And lastly don’t forget we’ve had multiple bike/bike-race based hollywood movies too which precedes and post-dates the Lance era (not including the recent parody movie about Lance) 😀

So I guess what I am trying to get at is bike racing’s role in american society is a layered onion, but it is still hugely popular as a subculture (way of life). My entire societal circle is based around bikes from commuting to racing. I think the love affair with Lance (which I was not a part of, I missed the boat on that/was riding a track bike at the time haha) — though I remember him as a tabloid celebrity couple kinda of person) is over-hyped in the global perception.

J Evans September 21, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Ecky, I don’t think 123’s points are ‘all very emotive, and romantic even’ (I’m assuming those are what you were referring to – the comments have gone a bit awry): they’re perfectly rational.
Haven’t been on this forum for a while, but 123’s views are a very welcome riposte to the somewhat overwhelming bias often stated by commenters here (not aimed at you) – particularly in the absence (usually) of Gabriele.

gabriele September 21, 2018 at 12:55 pm

You perhaps don’t get how deeply money and doping are related.
You need money to pay for doping (you might have heard about the case of USPostal, not the team, vs. Lance, or about USPostal, the team, selling their bikes to buy products).

And you’ve normally got just two or three ways not to get caught. Better science (expensive). Corruption (expensive). Maybe also some political support, normally as a result – among *other things* – of corruption (again) or being a rich stakeholder (that is, being a team which throws money into the sport).

Of course the idea that non-cycling nations as such (UK not a cycling nation?) ruined the sport isn’t appropriate. But I suspect that it is not *exactly* what was being said. Australia is an interesting example.

PS Striking performances in TTs are one of the better clues to infer differential doping practices.

123 September 21, 2018 at 5:53 pm

Where do you get the notion from, that time trialling is „modern“ and that not doing it is „backwards looking?“ It would only be that way, if timetrialling would be a new invention and if not riders like Anquetil would have won Tours with it. It is best, we don‘t fall for ideology.

Choices are made, by what is important to the one making that choice and the ones surrounding the one making that choice and what is important to them. Panache is an important idea for some. Just as winning at all costs is for others. Why I prefer panache to winning at all costs is an ethical and a practical reason. Because panache is constructive. It hurts nobody and at best it helps the one doing it and inspires others too in risking something, believing in themselves etc. And winning at all cost is destructive. I don‘t have to explain why, I think.

Indeed, one step away from „winning at all cost“ is „the end justifies the means“. And this is to me one of the most evil, fascist concepts in this world. With it you can justify everything, even if you fail to reach the desired end. It is to me the beginning of the end of everything. Because it matters, how you do things. If not, we would have no discussion about it.

z_unblocked September 21, 2018 at 6:01 pm

But the consensus of recent years seems to be that doping is apparently far more prevalent in amateur cycling than it is in professional cycling.

Martin D September 21, 2018 at 6:24 pm

Eloquent reply 123. I concur with what your write.

If English is not your 1st language then double respect.

Capital / Cannibal – that’s a good one. Thanks.

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