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The Wealthiest People in Pro Cycling

Forget Peter Sagan and his reported €6 million a year salary, this is about those who are so wealthy they’re not salaried. The aim here isn’t to gawk at their cash but to observe where much of the money in the sport comes from and where these people want to go with their investments. In first of a two-part series, let’s look at the World Tour team owners and sponsors…

New in the World Tour for 2019 is CCC team sponsor Dariusz Miłek, the Polish shoe billionaire, not to be confused with the shoe polish billionaire. Miłek was a promising racer and started travelling to races abroad with his bike and came back with produce to sell in Poland, often denim jeans. Then by chance he heard about a shoe factory, bought some produce from the back door and sold it on for a decent margin. One thing led to another and today he’s got Europe’s largest shoe factory and CCC is the continent’s second biggest footwear retailer despite having a, ahem, footprint primarily in central Europe. He sponsors the CCC team but doesn’t own it, but still makes the list as CCC is very much his business, he controls over a third of the votes in the business and seems committed to the sport, telling bankier.pl that spending money on pro cycling feels like paying back his dues because it set him up to become a billionaire and besides, it only costs 0.5% of CCC’s income and provides visibility too  perhaps this percentage held when his CCC team was in the pro conti ranks). With Team Sky’s future uncertain and many big name riders from other teams on the market already ahead of the 2020 season it’ll be interesting to see how far CCC can tap their new backer to become a top squad.

Igor Makarov is the owner of the Katusha team and in some ways the anti-Oleg Tinkov, you won’t find provocative tweets and a team bearing his name, he’s discreet to the point where photos are hard to come by. A keen cyclist. he was part of the Turkmenistan national team and this meant trips abroad and a stipend and combined it meant he was able to buy goods that were in short supply from abroad, like jeans, and sell them back home for a profit just like Miłek: a capitalist during communist times. Makarov reduced his wheeling but kept dealing and ended up bartering vast natural gas contracts in exchange for meat, cereals and other basic goods in the post Soviet economy and this made him a billionaire via his company ITERA, since sold to Russian energy giant Rosneft but look for the Areti logo on the team jerseys… Itera spelled backwards and a group of oil and gas companies he’s held on to. (and also the name of Makarov’s yacht, currently for sale as long you’re not a US citizen or in US waters). He’s been chairman of Russian cycling but has stepped down from that role and had mulled an exit from the Katusha team but Alpecin and Canyon are on board to share the load. A fellow blogger, he continues to occupy a senior role on the UCI’s Management Committee, effectively its executive board and was instrumental in ejecting Pat McQuaid. If you want more on his story, see Tinker, Tailor, Cyclist, Spy. In short he’s wealthy, powerful and discreet.

Next up Zdeněk Bakala who owns the Deceuninck-QuickStep team. The Czech billionaire bought the team with Dutch sidekick Bessel Kok and is another textbook capitalist who sneaked through the Iron Curtain with little more than a sandwich in his pocket for the USA. He went to business school, Wall Street and once the communist era ended, returned to Prague to open an investment bank. According to Business New Europe, a magazine, he bought a coal mining business for €400 million, sold some its assets for €2.5 billion and then floated the remaining business on the stock market for €4.5 billion. Since then he’s fallen off Forbe’s billionaire list, exited iron ore business in Ukraine and his Czech mining venture OKD has been liquidated and nationalised by Andrej Babiš, the Czech prime minister and a rival oligarch. Bakala did get excited about the reform of the sport a while back with proposals for a total overhaul of the sport, a joint venture with the UCI where the governing body would set the rules and calendar… and Bakala would take care of the rest, funding a breakaway league in conjunction with the modestly-named Gifted Group. Has this gone away or has Bakala’s idea been rebranded as Velon? He’s a figure in Czech politics because of his wealth and influence and media empire but lives in near Geneva in Switzerland and is a keen cyclist who’ll ride gran fondos incognito and despite owning a pro team is said to ride a steel frame. He’s said to fund the team personally, topping up sponsorship from Deceuninck, QuickStep and others.

Is there a bigger Australian sports fan than Gerry Ryan (pictured right)? Perhaps the first non-cyclist on this page, he’s the man behind the Mitchelton-Scott team, he owns the Mitchelton winery and has bankrolled the team ever since it launched as Greenedge. Ryan started out building camper vans and caravans and forty years on Jayco has been a big success and, as the auto industry pulls out of Australia, is said to be Down Under’s biggest vehicle manufacturer. But there are only so many caravans to sell and he’s become super-rich with the Walking With Dinosaurs show to which he owns the rights, and his media and entertainment business also stages other shows although he’s multi-millionaire among some of the the billionaires here. He’s involved in more business and he’s been a generous donor to other sports too as well as owning race horses. How long can he keep funding a pro team? It’s said until the end of 2020 as things stand.

Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain, or “Prince Nasser” in short, the man behind the Bahrain-Merida team. He’s 31 and went to Sandhurst, the British military school and loves nothing better than to spend hours in the saddle… with his feet in the stirrups as he’s a keen equestrian and has a stable of endurance horses. He’s also into other sports, especially triathlon where he’s done the Kona Ironman, indeed his Instagram accounts has pictures of him in army fatigues – remember Bahrain is at war in Yemen – and triathlon suits, finding a cycling team picture can take some scrolling. Bahrain is an island in between Qatar and Saudia Arabia and sits atop substantial oil reserves and like other nearby nations has is spending income from these resources on ways to diversify its economy. The country is a monarchy where the king appoints the government and chairs the judiciary and Prince Nasser, as one of the king’s seven sons, holds a certain authority, some of which he’s used to condemn dissent within the kingdom. The state has seen uprisings and crackdowns and has the kind of human rights record that makes cheering on Katusha and Astana feel that bit easier and there are allegations of torture levelled at Prince Nasser himself. The cycling team is supposed to make people take a fresh look at Bahrain, much like Astana aims to do for Kazakhstan.

Matar Suhail al Yabhouni al Dhaheri of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the man behind the UAE Emirates team. It’s hard to find much information on Mr al Yabhouni, he’s been president of the Abu Dhabi Horse Racing Committee and a member of the board of Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Local paper The National describes him as an Emirati businessman. He’s a member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling elite and involved specifically in real estate and after saving the old Lampre team in extremis has managed to get airline giant Emirates onboard as a sponsor. He too wants a cycling team to show a new, energetic side for his country and like Prince Nasser seems set to be content with owning a team rather than shaping the sport.

New to the list is Edward Hult, CEO of EF Education First in the US and son of Bertil Hult who founded the language school and became a billionaire. They’re not merely sponsors of the team, they now own it. Bertil Hult started out with next to nothing while Edward, the third son, was born in Switzerland and grew up wealthy and seems to have been groomed for the business, getting a doctorate in management before joining the family business.

Conclusion
Miłek and Makarov could swap notes over buying denim on racing trips abroad to sell back home as their first step to prodigious wealth that allows them to back their own pro team with Bakala and Ryan able to join in too. Their passion for cycling varies, Miłek and Makarov attribute part of their success to the sport, for the others it’s means to something but interestingly none of the above want the team for their own glory, it’s a far cry from the days of Oleg Tinkov.

If you were a billionaire would you start your own team? More money in the sport should be a good thing and it does help create extra jobs and when billionaires have teams to play with then riders are likely to benefit from the bidding but also we should note the longevity of some of these sponsors, the likes of Makarov and Ryan are keeping their teams on the road when pure commercial logic might have seem them vanish. In a sport where riders and teams compete, billionaire “sugardaddies” and corporate sponsors also compete for talent and media attention. There’s a paradox because more money upsets the system, it breaks the equilibrium. Wage inflation created by a couple of high bidders can destabilize in the same way an oligarch sailing his mega yacht into a small port rocks every other boat. For now things are stable, there’s no new entrant making waves, even Bahrain-Merida haven’t driven the contract market wild and the jobs market is likely to hinge on Team Sky’s future more than any of these movers and sheikhs.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Evan Thursday, 24 January 2019, 7:39 pm

    “shoe polish billionaire” I see what you did there

  • Ecky Thump Thursday, 24 January 2019, 9:49 pm
  • Tyler Friday, 25 January 2019, 1:51 am

    “came back with *produce* to sell in Poland, often denim jeans”
    Poland during the 80s was pretty dire, but even then I think they preferred to eat real food over denim. 🙂

    • The Inner Ring Friday, 25 January 2019, 8:37 am

      Aren’t jeans produce, cotton turned into trousers? But I think I read he was also bringing back watches, jam and other things.

      • Nick Friday, 25 January 2019, 11:54 am

        “produce” as a noun is more often used for agricultural produce, such as fruit and veg.

        “products” would be more normal to describe manufactured goods.

      • Othersteve Saturday, 26 January 2019, 1:27 am

        Those keeping track of INRG’s origin may have a clue here!

        Pic of CCC DM looks more like a centerfold!!
        Nice that he is reaching into his own pocket to support a sport that he admires.
        Wish we had one here in the US that would do that…

      • CA Monday, 28 January 2019, 6:40 am

        Produce = items manufactured from raw materials… this version of the definition has zero to do with veggies and fruits.

  • Michael B Friday, 25 January 2019, 9:02 am

    “The cycling team is supposed to make people take a fresh look at Bahrain, much like Astana aims to do for Kazakhstan.”

    I always wonder about that strategy as it feels like it brings more scrutiny on the regimes. I’d guess a cycling fan knows more about human rights issues in those countries than the average person.

    On a larger scale Qatar’s shocking treatment of foreign workers has been magnified by the World Cup and they’ve had to make small modifications because of it.

    Having said that China doesn’t seem to care either way so I’m not sure if there was an Olympic effect, positive or negative. And Russia’s reputation did benefit from the World Cup.

    That’s all from a UK perspective of course, as I don’t know how things are perceived or reported elsewhere.

    If I was a nation-specific business I could see mileage in sponsorship if there was an event in my country which offered disproportionate interest and a relatively modest field to target.

    e.g. a Kwiatkowski led CCC at the Tour of Poland being the theoretical dream scenario as a lot of people in the region probably just know the Tour of Poland and Tour de France, so a win looks great. In the UK the Tour of Britain / Surrey Classic get x100 the attention of the Giro or Flanders so a British rider who could win either would hold great value, even if they have nowhere near the same prestige in reality.

    • Michael B Friday, 25 January 2019, 9:40 am

      I suppose for UAE, Bahrain and Astana it’s about playing to the domestic audience to show not only are you oil rich, but you’re an influential state on the world sporting stage too. None of the teams are especially successful, although Astana have their moments, but an image of the odd stage win here and there probably goes a long way.

      • Anonymous Friday, 25 January 2019, 9:57 am

        Astana aren’t especially successful? Two of each Grand Tour, 2x LBL, 2x Amstel Gold, Lombardia, 2x Pais Vasco, Suisse, Romandie, Paris-Nice is a pretty good return eh. I’d hate to hear which teams you consider to be unsuccessful.

        • Michael B Friday, 25 January 2019, 10:18 am

          Fair comment. I did qualify the Astana comment as I realise Valgren had a great year and the back-to-back TdF stages were high profile. Even Nibali and Aru’s successes are fairly recent, I suppose. They probably are delivering what you’d expect on a sporting level.

    • Chris James Monday, 28 January 2019, 1:57 pm

      ‘In the UK the Tour of Britain / Surrey Classic get x100 the attention of the Giro or Flanders’ – this really isn’t true at all.

      There is little interest in the mainstream media in either of the UK races. Club cyclists and enthusiasts rate the Giro and Tour of Flanders far higher. Every year a substantial chunk of the membership of my club ride the Tour of Flanders sportive, watch the race, ride out to Roubaix velodrome etc.

      The Tour of Yorkshire is quite a big deal here, but that is because I live in Yorkshire and it is on my doorstep. Last year me and the kids inadvertently found ourselves cycling to the start line in Barnsley town centre with Greg Van Avermaet!

      • Michael B Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 10:26 am

        BBC 1 or 2 broadcasts the Surrey Classic live – it’s on from about 11am in the morning with the sportive and interviews with amateurs / minor celebs etc and then it shows a huge chunk of the pro race live. The idea that Paris-Roubaix or Flanders gets that type of coverage is mad. The only time Roubaix was even mentioned by the sports media, never mind live coverage on BBC, was when Wiggins had a crack in 2015.

        You’re right that the Tour de Yorkshire gets a lot of coverage, pretty much on a par with the Tour of Britain, as ITV really push it as a big sporting event. If you weren’t a cycling fan you’d think the TdY was one of the biggest events in the calendar.

        • Michael B Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 11:04 am

          PS – I’m not talking about what club cyclists think. I’m a club cyclist as well but we’re hardly a representative sample! Last year I remember joking with my mam not to tell me who’d won Paris-Roubaix (as I was going to watch Eurosport highlights that evening) and she told me that she did know who’d won “the cycling”.

          Apparently it was some bloke from New Zealand who went around the track faster than everyone else… turns out she’d seen the Commonwealth Games track cycling which was live on BBC. So that’s another small event in our world, that is perceived as a big deal by non-cycling fans.

          Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Worlds, Tour de France, Tour of Britain, Tour de Yorkshire – they all get broadcast live on the main free-to-air domestic channels. The classics and Giro are ignored entirely by mainstream media, even Froome wining didn’t get that much attention really. The Vuelta gets more coverage on ITV with a nightly highlights package, presumably because ASO sell the rights combined with the Tour.

  • Larry T Friday, 25 January 2019, 9:39 am

    Well, that was depressing. Autocratic petro-regimes or “capitalists” who seem to start out mostly as smugglers are the backers of pro cycling teams while booze-makers are (sort of) banned.
    Can’t wait for Part 2, sure to be a breath of fresh air in the Brexit, US government shutdown, desperate migrants drowning in the sea, Venezuela unrest worldwide news cycle.

    • Eskerrik Asko Friday, 25 January 2019, 12:26 pm

      Larry, if I were as ignorant about life behind the iron curtain as you seem to be, I’d shut up or at least refrain from calling anyone a smuggler as flippantly as you do. And I dare say some capitalists during the years of transition were more genuine capitalists in the good – free trade, open markets or whatever one likes to attribute to it – sense of the world than many of the capitalists, past or present, in the west.
      Let’s stick to cycling!

      • Larry T Friday, 25 January 2019, 2:38 pm

        Your last line is great, but sadly you chose not to take your own advice. If the line had been “Mr. X started an importing business (legally) in one of the former Iron Curtain countries then went on to vast riches.” I could agree with you, but these stories smack more of profiteering from smuggling goods either forbidden or impossible to get through official legal channels (or simple kleptocracy) and then the plutocrats/oligarchs/petrosheikhs get celebrated as capitalists once they hit the big time and indulge themselves with pro cycling teams. Mr. Tinkoff is another example of this type, no?
        If it doesn’t bother you where the money comes from to sponsor pro cycling that’s OK, but please don’t insist that it not bother me or that not liking it somehow makes me ignorant.
        Thanks!

        • Eskerrik Asko Friday, 25 January 2019, 6:09 pm

          Of course it doesn’t bother me where the money comes from to sponsor pro cycling! It naturally follows from my being bold and probably obnoxious, too, to observe and point out that Larry doesn’t know as much as he thinks he knows and that he would need to know more to know whether he is right or wrong. If I’m not saying what writing your last sentence makes you, it’s only out of respect to our blog host.
          If you have a problem with kleptocrats/oligarchs/petrosheiks, that’s fine with me, but please don’t talk about smuggling and profiteering or what was forbidden and illegal etc as if you knew you were what you were talking about. I know it is difficult for a man of your age – because I’m fast reaching that age myself – not to assume that he knows quite enough about everything he opens his mouth about and not to think he is right, but please let’s not do it here, OK?
          Respira, respira!

          • Larry T Saturday, 26 January 2019, 8:55 am

            When you write “Of course it doesn’t bother me where the money comes from to sponsor pro cycling!” you illustrate a big difference between us. That is just fine though it’s obviously a major difference of opinion.
            But perhaps the bigger one is your claim that because I DO care, this somehow makes me ignorant in comparison to those much more knowledgeable, which of course includes you. I’m starting to wonder if you’re not RonDe with a new moniker? From this point on I’ll treat your posts the same way I did his and simply scroll past them.

          • Eskerrik Asko Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 9:44 am

            Larry, Larry! Oh, Larry! I also wrote: “It naturally follows from…”:-)

            I did not claim that you are ignorant because you care about about where the money came from. I claimed that you are ignorant about a subject and that you are enough to form and hold strong opinions on subjects that you are ignorant about, to express them as facts. I also claimed that you are to infer and to imply that anyone who questions them does so because he supports something contemptible, condones something unacceptable or – in this instance – doesn’t care where the money comes from.
            To your credit it can in my opinion be said that you probably do care about cycling – and not only about your preciously held opinions about cycling – and that is the reason why you can be such a jerk sometimes:-\
            The funny thing is that I somehow thought you are RonDe were like a hand and a glove, two of a kind, mirror images of each other or made for each other like a kettle and its lid:-)
            Anyway, I promise you won’t have to stress yourself about how to avoid my comments. From now on I shall refrain from reading the comment section.
            And let’s try and enjoy the cycling. All of us.

          • Eskerrik Asko Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 9:48 am

            A couple of “insert a hopefully not too offensive descriptive word here” somehow went missing. but I think you can place them in the right spots.

          • J Evans Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 10:40 am

            One notable point is that whilst Larry T is strident in his opinions it is others who respond with personal insults. Larry might well then respond in kind, but those responsible for lowering the tone are those who begin the snidery.

            My own new season’s inrng resolution is to temper my own tendency to be strident – bear with me, I’m trying hard, but it doesn’t come naturally to me – and to not respond to those who make ad hominem attacks rather than discussing points about cycling (it’s going to be tough, but I’m going to try).

  • Paul Friday, 25 January 2019, 9:54 am

    not to be confused with the shoe polish billionaire.

    Glad you cleared that up!

  • Paul Friday, 25 January 2019, 9:55 am

    despite having a, ahem, footprint primarily in central Europe.

    Inrng possibly on the vino collapso when writing this piece?

  • Andy W Friday, 25 January 2019, 12:40 pm

    Feudal Middle-Eastern Kingdoms and ex-SovBloc oligarchs funding sport – any sport, from cycling to tennis to F1 – in order to present a more positive image to the world, are thoroughly depressing.

    I remember other Inrng pieces about the withering-away due to lack of money of European events with decades of history and tradition, to be replaced by races in the Middle-East where they have money but the races take part in flat, open desert and watched by more camels than spectators.

    This money comes into the sport easily, but without tradition and foundation it can just as easily go away again when another enthusiasm or politics drives it somewhere else

    • Hammarling Saturday, 26 January 2019, 2:20 pm

      Don’t forget how a lot of these historic European events began: as ways for regions to show off their importance and raise their awareness to the world, often funded by rich individuals or companies. Le Tour, a publicity stunt to sell papers and show off how great France was, often being used to this day to show it’s power and connection with it’s neighbours. LBL, began by a paper, and recently the finish in Ans has some heavily political moves behind it. Roubaix, started by textile manufacturers to generate more interest in their new Velodrome. E3 Prijs, named litteraly after a main road conecting major European cities together, promoting political ideas. The list goes on and on, and it’s gets far bigger to include events that have vanished as those interests moved and shifted away from cycling.

      Every great historic race started somewhere, more often than not as a project of some wealthy individual/company/region with motives other than pure sport. The new raft of Middle Eastern races to me are no different. Backed by wealth to generate factors beyond just sporting spectacle. This is just how things have worked for over a hundred years and it’s not going to change.
      And when an event like Oman turns 10 next year when do we accept it as more than a stunt and actually as a race with a history? It’s as old as Quebec and Montreal, two more events with motives based on awareness and showcase more than pure sporting spectacle.

      It’s just a thought to keep in mind, that this new money is actually nothing new to the sport, only that the bank account it comes from is in a new place.

      • Larry T Saturday, 26 January 2019, 5:10 pm

        Good points! What I think IS different is that eventually the events we now consider as traditional (at least most of them) have become sporting events on their own merits even if they were originally invented as commercial ventures.
        Using your OMAN example – in the 10 years of being held has this race generated ANY sort of sporting merit or has it continued solely due to being propped up by the commercial (in this case I’d say political) interests?
        I’d say the same about teams, it’s hard for me to have anything but derision towards autocrats/petro-sheiks, etc, who create pro cycling teams solely for commercial/political motives rather than any interest or passion for the sport. The result is that “Just Win Baby!” mentality which leads to actions that threaten the very value of sport.

        • Hammarling Saturday, 26 January 2019, 9:27 pm

          The 2012 edition was won by just 1″. 2013 had an early days Sagan vs GVA showdown + Purito vs Froome vs Contador vs Evans. 2014 had 5 lead changes in 6 days. 2015 was won by 9″. And as someone who likes a good sprint there are plenty of competitve individual stages with close finishes, and as the race has mixed in hills and mountains there are more fun specific stage’s as well.
          So yes, it has generated actual sporting moments and competitive racing, and done so consistently over most of it’s existence so far. And that’s without being granted WT status like the Canadian examples i mentioned.

          Abu-Dhabi, Dubai, Guangxi and others are still young but there is nothing that says they cannot become important and competitive events. We just need to give them time to establish that history and value. Especially when so many “classic” European events are struggling for funding and dissappearing off the calendar or shrinking. They will need to be replaced and i would rather head overseas than have nothing at all.

          Same with teams. I’m not jumping with joy at some of the people involved or their self-serving reasons, but if it’s a choice between them and their money driving increased professionalism and interest or having less teams, less profesionalism etc i’ll go with it. But given cycling’s nomadic and often changing nature anyway i find it hard to get connected with any team outside of national team events in the same way i can connect with my locally based sports teams.

          • Larry T Sunday, 27 January 2019, 9:47 am

            To be simplistic I perhaps should have written they become sporting events on their own merits by having a number of fans of the sport care about them, whether by viewing on TV or at the roadside. They develop enough of a following that if for some reason the original creators no longer pony up the loot to put ’em on, others step in to keep them alive
            I’d venture to say none of these instant “sandbox classics” will ever rival the races in the traditional cycling countries in this way, no matter how many petro-dollars are thrown at them. Same with the USA, it’s not just the sandbox races

          • J Evans Sunday, 27 January 2019, 10:22 am

            Hammarling, what do you mean by ‘increased professionalism’ – seems a nebulous term to me – and how is this money increasing it?

          • Hammarling Sunday, 27 January 2019, 12:42 pm

            Larry – There’s only one way we’ll know whether these races will last and build sporting interest, and that’s to wait and see if any of them still exist in 100 years like the Tour + Monuments do. But i’ll always be in favor of supporting and giving new races a chance, like Oman, California, Britain, Yorkshire, Down Under, Quebec, Montreal, Guangxi, Colombia 2.1 etc because everything good starts somewhere with an individual.

            Evans – I’ll direct to the womens side of the sport for specific example, where increase funding of teams by larger companies and passionate individuals allows more and more women to treat cycling as their career. Allowing them to train and race full time, helping them become fitter and more competitive in depth through the field, and with better support staff and equipment.
            Or look at how investment helped kickstart the UK scene, allowing rider to focus full time on the sport, and deliver top results at multiple Olympics, World Championships and more.
            Let’s apply it to the World Tour, Bakala puts money into Quickstep. This means they can afford to take a risk on hiring younger talent like Remco Evenepoel. Remco gets paid a competitve wage and thus can focus 100% on cycling if he choses. This helps him develop faster and gives a better chance of reaching his maximum potential. Whereas without such investments Quickstep might not have the ability to support a young rider, who has to race part-time and work part-time. He gets tired, can’t train properly and doesn’t develop as well, he’s less professional.

          • Ecky Thump Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 8:07 am

            Just looking at UAE Team Emirates so far this season, they took the team classification at TdU and obviously have a stage win in Argentina with Gaviria.
            Fabio Aru will contest the Giro, as will Nibali for Bahrain Merida.
            Gaviria and Rohan Dennis will bring GT stage wins too.
            I think we’ll see a significant emergence of the Arab teams this year and it would not surprise me if both of them took any top riders lost by Team Sky’s eventual demise.
            It’s probably not a leap of imagination to see an Arab team winning the Tour in the next 5 (?) years.
            If you’re looking for a successor to Team Sky’s position, it could well come from either of these teams. And if one Arab team were to win the Tour, would the other push all the more harder (financially) to do likewise?
            That would give the Arab races a lot of prestige, maybe encourage the punters out too.

          • Larry T Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 9:13 am

            Ecky wrote- “And if one Arab team were to win the Tour, would the other push all the more harder (financially) to do likewise? That would give the Arab races a lot of prestige, maybe encourage the punters out too.”
            This hasn’t quite worked out that way in the USA despite the success of LeMond and that other guy (the one who cheated) or down in OZ post Evans, has it?
            I wouldn’t bet a nickel on a TdU, ToB, ToC, etc. run continuously for any serious length of time in comparison to even something as lowly at the Giro dell’Appennino which began in 1934, let alone a major event.

          • Razor Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 1:38 pm

            I’m not sure where this comment will pop up but it is for Larry.
            It would appear Larry that you are not actually a fan of the sport cycling. You care about only what you see in Europe. I assume Australia isn’t a “traditional cycling country” that you talk about in your comments? TDU has been going for only 21 years. The herald sun tour started in 1952. There is a cycling club in Melbourne that has been running for over 130 years. In the late 1800s people travelled to Australia and New Zealand from Europe (taking weeks) to compete in cycling races. The Crowd numbers on the street for the TDU are over 900 000 for the event in a country with a population of 25 million. I have friends who travel by road over 2000km just to get there. Others are travelling over 3000 km to get there because our big cycling events are all in the south of the country. When was the last time you had to drive for 2 or 3 days to get to your closest world tour race? So how about this.
            Forget you are old and think as if you are a teacher who wants to pass on their love of a subject to those who are young anywhere they find them. Celebrate the cycling events in other countries that may just develop a love of cycling in people who haven’t been fortunate enough to have the worlds best riders come to their doorstep every year. Rather than bemoan the decline of some races rejoice that there are now others all around the world that you can now enjoy.
            I just love watching cycling. I lose weeks of sleep every year and have had to endure grainy pirate feeds to get my cycling fix. Thank god I can now watch many races on Free to air tv and that the TDU doesn’t have stage finishes at 2am in the morning! So please for the love of cycling enthusiasts around the world stop hating on cycling in the rest of the world and enjoy and celebrate it like some of the rest of us do!

            Oh and as an aside this fringe cycling nation has also had world champions on the road, track, bmx and mountain biking. God I enjoy cycling, I might just go for a ride.

  • Charles Sunday, 27 January 2019, 7:13 am

    Some wonderful plays on words and phrases in this.
    “Finished with his wheeling carried on dealing” was the stand-out.

    (For those that don’t know a”wheeler-dealer” is an English colloquialism for a kind of market stall entrepreneur cf. Del Boy)

  • Gerard Said Sunday, 27 January 2019, 4:53 pm

    This is a really interesting article! Please keep this sort of stuff coming! I think that a great novel could be written based on any of these colourful characters!

  • Michele Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 1:43 am

    Gerry Ryan does not just sponsor the team, he’s carried Cycling Australia & others for many years & then even more so when Cycling Australia dropped their development role of young road cyclists to concentrate on the track events. He is the hero of cycling in Australia which is a fringe fringe sport .Apart from the Summer of Cycling one is very hard pressed to find anything in the press about cycling unless Chris Froome or Peter Sagan have done something spectacularly newsworthy.
    I really hope they can find a major co sponsor to carry on the team. I love our team.
    I notice Michael Drapac has dropped his funding in the World Tour, no doubt because it was very rare that his contribution failed to make the commentators lips most of the time when EF came on board.

  • Larry T Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 2:38 pm

    Razor – while I’d love to refute your unfounded claims about me here, I’m afraid it would bore the rest to tears, so if you want to continue this, you know where to find me.
    I think I might have actually shared some of your dreams (in this case it would be about USA cycling rather than Australian) many years ago but reality has stepped in to dissolve them as the USA races and cycling scene gradually has dissolved, despite all the hype and promise of the post-LeMond (and Tex) years.

    • Michele Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 2:02 am

      Lets not forget the Melbourne to Warnambool Classic started in 1895.

      • DaveRides Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 3:44 am

        Plus the Austral, the oldest track race in the world.

        The Port Noarlunga Handicap is the only road race in the world to have been run in 100 consecutive years (1919 to 2018) as it was permitted to continue running during World War II as a contributor to good morale.

        • Larry T Wednesday, 30 January 2019, 9:08 am

          Sure, and the USA had Major Taylor with thousands paying to watch at the velodrome….which has done what for the current state of USA bike racing?
          My point was the false equivalence being handed out to races like TdU or Cadel’s when compared to LeTour or MSR.
          In 1964 one could buy a new Fiat 500 or a Ferrari 275 – both are Italian automobiles, but nobody today would claim they’re equals. I believe any top pro cyclist would happily trade 10 wins at Cadel’s race for single victory at MSR.