Velon Means Business


11 of the World Tour teams have linked up to create a company Velon. It’s the public launch of a private project that’s been on the go for at least 18 months under the label of Project Avignon.

We don’t have much to go on. Today has seen a co-ordinated media campaign to mark the launch, it’s gone from a project to corporate reality. Whether it now goes from a start-up to an established business will be the more interesting story to follow.

What have we got?
Let’s start with what we had. 13 made up the “Project Avignon” group and now it’s down to 11 following Movistar’s withdrawal and Cannondale is stopping. What’s changed is this grouping is now official, an incorporated entity with a CEO, a website and a Twitter account rather than a furtive group. Each team has a director on the board of the company too.

It’s the “why” that’s interesting. Teams say the current sponsorship model does not work. Cycling has a problem with its sponsorship model as teams come and go, dependent on being able to find a large sponsor. A worry for fans, a survival matter for team managers.

It’s the “how” that’s hard. More stable finances are the goal but securing this is not easy. Teams do not set aside money for a rainy day, pretty much all their annual income is spent on rider recruitment.

One initial plan is to use the holding company to sell on-bike camera footage as a start. Some of this has been given away for free as part of the InCycle media project backed by the Project Avignon teams and IMG, a Swiss sports marketing company. Now the aim will be to make this commercially viable and lucrative. If images are being filmed from bikes then data telemetry is possible too and so on. How valuable this is remains to be seen.

What’s more interesting is the group says it’s “looking for a race calendar that tells a season long story”. What does this mean? Well in reductive terms a season-long contest to determine the best rider of the year: imagine a version of the World Tour rankings you cared about. For me the simplest way to achieve this is to front up a massive cash prize, say €1 million a year. New? No, in times past the Pernod Superprestige became cycling’s top prize because it was so valuable for the riders it became important for everyone. Interestingly it was not part of the UCI, merely a private prize offered by a drinks company and was so valuable that riders – on low salaries in those days – would adjust their tactics accordingly, especially as the season went on. Still a “season long story” is a risky concept, it implies the current season with its variety of races – from cobbles to cols – isn’t one story and there’s something wrong with this. The politics are interesting too: if on-bike cams can be clipped in place by a mechanic, re-shaping the calendar is something that’s totally out of a team’s control. It’s up to races to promote events and for the UCI to decide whether they’re suitable for the World Tour. If Velon created its own rankings it could earn money from them, for example imagine an end of season awards ceremony with all the trappings of celebrity shows with riders turning up in tuxedos on the red carpet, speeches, entertainment and more, all packaged for TV. These things can be big ratings draws.

Revenue sharing
The Project Avignon teams have said they want a cut of ASO’s income with so-called revenue sharing. But as a past blog post suggests, there’s not much money to go around. The language from teams has changed from slicing up the existing cake to growing the pie.

More money, more problems
Currently any increase in a team budget tends to flow in… and straight back out. No team turns a profit or allocates a sponsor’s cash to a reserve fund. Rather extra sponsorship income goes on extra riders or, with the UCI’s cap on rider numbers, extra salaries. Pour more money in and the result is simply wage inflation, sometimes known as the “prune juice” effect. So the Velon teams are likely to want a salary cap, something the UCI has been exploring. But this surely has to be a UCI initiative, Velon can lobby but imagine the case of a top rider who can chose between a Velon team with a salary cap and another outside the group that pays more. Now you could try to cap a team’s total wage bill but exploring salary caps is a topic for another day. For now the takeaway should be that any extra income will simply flow out from teams in the form of wage inflation unless there’s a cap.

Jean Etienne Amaury
What will Jean-Etienne Amaury do?

A lot of races lose a lot of money but the Tour de France is the one event that makes beaucoup profit. But Tour de France owner ASO isn’t too concerned about the durability of the participating teams. When, say, the Cannondale team can’t find a replacement sponsor collapses it’s no big loss to the Tour de France; we will see Peter Sagan at Tinkoff-Saxo. Requests for revenue sharing in the past have been met with a firm non. The tension has continued, you might remember Oleg Tinkov talking about boycotting the Tour de France. Like many things he was being provocative rather than thinking aloud and since qualified his words. ASO’s attitude to this will be crucial and seeing how both groups deal with each other, plus others like Giro owners RCS, the UCI and more will worth watching.

The French teams aren’t involved in Velon but largely they’ve not had much sponsor insecurity given Cofidis, Ag2r and FDJ have been sponsoring since the 1990s. Ironically this is largely because they’re French teams and have been guaranteed a ride in the Tour de France over the years. If non-French teams can attain this security via other means they too might enjoy stable sponsorship?

Project Avignon gets serious with legal registration and a CEO from outside of cycling. Beyond this we’ve got little to go on. On-bike cameras are cited as a potential revenue source but it’ll be interesting to see how this is monetized. How much would you pay to watch on-bike cameras?

It’s the broader ideas that will be interesting. More viable teams providing more images, information and stories can only be good and it’ll be interesting to follow what happens. But there are risks along the way too. Project Avignon was a big deal without much publicity. Velon has launched with a buzz and they’ll need to keep supplying updates to avoid looking stale. Whether this continues will depend on the 11 member teams and the new CEO. Let’s hope he speaks fluent French to woo the Amaury family.

If Velon has been launched this week the issues discussed at the time when Project Avignon broke cover. For more reading see these pieces from January:

113 thoughts on “Velon Means Business”

  1. I don’t know that much about the revenue side of things, but from a sporting point of view I’m not keen on the comparisons to F1 and don’t really see that there is amiss in the calendar that needs to be filled by a season long competition. The closest we have to that at present is the world rankings and I rarely give these much of a second look as it always seems to be won as a consequence of winning other races rather than being contested in its own right; a bit like the Vélo d’Or.

    Back to F1…the F1 championship is a sport as much as it is a competition in its own right. The guys that do it only compete in those cars in those GPs, there are no non-F1 or non-championship races that fill the rest of the season. I’m not sure this model translates that nicely to cycling where the races have more character than many a grand prix. Is the plan to use existing races or create new ones?

    As far as the cyclists are concerned, is putting so much emphasis on a season-long competition such a good thing? I thought we were supposed to be moving into a more credible age where the quality of the racing took precedence over the unbelievable performances?

    • It’s all in the details I suppose. And can a season long story even make sense. Unlike Formula 1 and in fact almost every other sport cycling, to simplify, has a very odd calendar with flat races in the later winter and spring before mountain races in summer. So different riders have different times to shine. It’s hard if not impossible to engineer a head to head race between Tony Martin, Marcel Kittel and Alberto Contador. This diversity makes comparisons and picking the best rider a subjective test when few would disputed who wins the F1 title or tops a football league. It’s very complicated for cycling.

      • The difficulty in making comparisons is the reason we have different shirts for different specialisms surely, so a similar approach could be taken. A lot of comparison is made to F1, but road cycling is maybe more similar to “motor sport” ie it would be like have a year long contest that includes F1, Rally and drag racing but allowing Lewis Hamilton or Sebastoen Ogier (I had to look that one up…) to pick and choose races.

        So rather than having a UCI rankings system as presently available would it make sense to have 3 contests then choosing 10 races during the year that make up the points for that contest – or maybe a combination so the eneco tour for example has max points available for the sprinters contest but roubaix you get 25% of the points. Then your end of year parade can honour the best “type” of rider.

        Just a thought – but basically pointing out that there are alternative routes that could be explored and avenues for Velon to go down.

        (Also as an aside, and having learnt this from your blogs, but teams don’t make a profit because they’re not allowed by the UCI as opposed to it being a choice, which is what’s implied above. A certain flexibility to carry profits over “for a rainy day” would be a good move I think)

  2. What you seeing here I suspect is the start of the “Premier League” of cycling. It’s how the TV side of Sky works. If they cannot take over a sport they will either set up their own version and chuck money and advertising at it or they will make various federations offers they cannot refuse by chucking a load of money and advertising at them.

  3. I have to wonder if the media rights holder of the race, and even the UCI when they do not own the rights, will forbid the sale of the on-camera rights or anything else they dare try. In the world of sports administration and the IOC, I could see them playing a variation of the “ambush marketing” problem the IOC works so hard to control to almost ridiculous levels.

    I think there are many opportunities outside the racing itself that are ripe for the taking where the UCI has no control. Imagine broadcasting a weekly highlights show straight to youtube. No need for the UCI. My understanding is the Sky rides are very popular. Imagine what would happen if a few WT riders showed up on an organized non-competitive ride and actually hung around. Lots more opportunities *outside racing itself* the UCI is too slow and risk-adverse to try.

      • Jompy – Sky highjacked the Premier League as a vehicle to get their satelite dishes stuck onto millions of homes, and despite the cost it worked. They are not about to pump untold millions into cycling for the couple of hundred thousand fans who might tune in. Comparisons to football, F1 etc are a bit tenuous as these sports are in a completely different financial league. James Murdoch may be spending the pocket money his Dad gives him on a cycling team, but I’d be concerned that now he seems to be spending most of his time in the US, that after 2016 the interest dries up…

        • Sky and BT have fought a fairly bitter battle over the rights to rugby coverage and the average viewing figure is less than 100K. I can see Velon pushing to get cycling much better exposure on free to air. The sponsors will love that and the viewing figures will increase significantly.

    • Yes, the image rights issue had to be settled and its why teams have grouped together. The teams/Velon seem to say the rights belong to them as the cams are on the bike. But ASO and others could insist on a monopoly for video content. Ideally cooperation is needed, as broadcast image of an attack or crash from a moto and helicopter could be enhanced by bike cam footage. But separate footage on another channel surely won’t be so valuable?

      The UCI could be caught in the middle to adjudicate over bike camera rules too.

      • It’s easy to see the race organisers insisting on rights over any images from the race (including on-board cams) as part of the price of race entry. However, it’s also easy to see the teams insisting on a share of those rights as part of the price of fixing the cameras to the bikes. Otherwise the organisers might find that all sorts of “unexpected” accidents happen to the cameras once they’re out on the road, so they end up with no usable footage.

        It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the main race organisers try to strike a deal with particular teams to get around this.

    • WT riders already do turn up to some Sky rides – Wiggins, Stannard, G, Rowe, Edmondson, Kennaugh plus others such as Lopez and Boswell, have all put in appearances.

  4. INRNG, what makes you so sure the teams can go around ASO with any onboard footage they generate at the TdF? A UCI decree? ASO won’t tolerate this. They have the roads privatized for them each day and they can include just about anything they like in the Sporting Stakes document and the teams will have to agree to it and sign, surely? Why would ASO allow their broadcast rights to be undermined?

    • Apologies channel_zero, didn’t see your post.

      And another thing… what would stop ASO developing their own onboard envelope with Sony or Panavision and telling the teams they have to manufacture bikes capable of accommodating cameras/dummy cameras a la Formula 1? And then telling them ASO have exclusive rights to the footage. No likey? Here’s the door. Wanna boycott? See crowd attendances for Wimbledon, 1973.

      • I think that’s the idea of the teams joining forces under Velon in order to force the hand of the race organisers in negotiations. Noone wants to see a TdF with 11 of the usual WT teams absent.

      • Cameron Isles,

        The idea of mandating that bike mfgs provide spaces for (proprietary?) camera mounts differs from the F1 situation because bike mfgs are in the business of selling bikes to consumers. People shell out a lot of money to “ride what the pros ride,” and having a dumb (and possibly unsightly) camera mount on your bike that does not photograph well isn’t very good for sales.

        (Unrelated, but IMO, this issue of salability is what drives the hour record bike guidelines. No one would queue up to buy an Obree bike, but they certainly will for the Trek Speed Concept, because Jensie’s is only ‘slightly modified’)

        TL;DR Bike guidelines are formulated around what the mfgs can sell to the public, so there will be forceful pushback of any proprietary modifications that may affect sales.

  5. Perhaps one possible money making endeavor too go along with your ” season awards ceremony with all the trappings of celebrity shows with riders turning up in tuxedos on the red carpet, speeches, entertainment and more,”

    We might add a “Dopers Dunk Tank” as part of the advertisers exhibit areas of all UCI races. Any Velon rider who has had an suspension ( drug related) will be spend 1 hour on a dunk tank and tickets will be sold to all interested cycling fans for 10 Euro’s a ball toss to dunk said dopers into the tank for fun and profit. Not mention that the shame may help prevent a recurrence of bad past behavior by the riders!

    Not sure all on this blog know what a dunk tank is? Its an colloquial US practice as a celebrity for profit events. similar to water boarding but not quite as effective.

    • That would be novel. Most industries want to brush the bad news under the carpet rather than cash in on it 😉

      I suggested an awards ceremony above but like all ideas making it would is another issue. Cycling’s a small world so the TV audience could be small, especially given the multilingual participants and audience.

    • This kind of out-of-nowhere comment is part of the reason cycling blogs keep winding up with the protracted conversations about doping you were so concerned about in the last inrng post!

      … but if Tinkoff wound up on the dunking chair after sticking his foot in his mouth on Twitter once too often, I’d save up my Euros for that.

  6. From the various statements the involved teams made it seems the only real problem they have with the current situation is that they are not the ones with the most power. It is all very tiring. One point where my involvment in cycling as a fan would end would be for example when they’d create a new race series for their teams.

  7. This would make a good Onion-type headline: “Anglo-Saxons unite to propose expensive, tiny Band-Aids to cover the gaping wounds affecting pro cycling” Little more than marketing blather. I doubt Velon (Felon, Melon…what is it again? How boring is that moniker?) is going to get ASO to play with them. A year from now I can’t help but feel someone will ask, “Whatever happened to Velon?” and Inner Ring can provide the epitaph.

  8. The most important thing to do is stabilise the world tour teams. Cycling is not a sport with huge fan clubs that can afford relegation / promotion. The teams should have a permanent license that can be bought / sold. This way the sponsors know if they fork over big $ that their teams gets to the important races. As it is now the teams on the margins are always fighting against the chance they won’t get to the world tour which can only make it harder to get a budget (which feeds back and makes it harder to fill a quality team). Surely if the team is permanent there is more chance of fan clubs as well.

    • One of the charms of cycling is that it isn’t a franchise sport with all the places at the top table locked up. I would like to see the size of a TdF team reduced to 7 riders and the overall size of the peloton increased to 210 (30 teams). Or more. I don’t care how dangerous it would be in the first week; it’s cycling, it’s supposed to be dangerous. Can you imagine 32 teams? That would give pretty much every serious team in the world a chance on the big stage. Let them sort it out from there, on the road.

      This would encourage strong Pro-Continental teams who have just enough funding to do it right, yet no interest in doing Australia, Qatar, Beijing etc; basically all the races I have no interest in watching. Teams that can build around a solid young GC hopeful and improve year-on-year.

      And give up the jersey space ASO so teams can sell sleeves and side packages with certainty and not be penalized for doing well (Sagan – Sojasun). And stop making Rapha/Adidas/Nike riders wear Le Coq Sportif just because you make royalties. That’s just downright poor hospitality. Imagine Billy Payne telling Tiger to wear a Masters green Ralph Lauren on Sunday just because he’s leading. Oh, and put Coke, IBM and Travelers on it for good measure… or you’re disqualified! Nice.

      • One of the charms of cycling is that it isn’t a franchise sport with all the places at the top table locked up.

        Though, controlled by the UCI using a secret process with only a few, consistent, participants that are mostly billionaire hobbyists. So, while different than a guaranteed spot, not necessarily better.

        The UCI churns through other WT corporate sponsors that do not traditionally support the sport due to fundamental governance problems and other problems with the structure of the sport.

  9. Don’t the race owners hold the key? I cant see a real change taking place without somehow transferring the ownership/rights of pro tour races to a single entity. Value of TV rights should increase and also the value of sponsorship, i.e. a bigger cake.

    One argument for revenue sharing is that by aligning everyone’s interests better we would see fewer doping cases.

    The Pro Tour is never going to be a one story but the calendar can “flow” better. Something like:
    o February for Tour Down Under + Asia/Middle East?
    o March for PN, TA and Milan San Remo
    o April for the cobbles and Ardennes
    o May for Tour of California and the Giro
    o June for Dauphine, Switzerland and the Nationals
    o July for the Tour
    o August for Tour of Britain, San Sebastian, that German race and start of the start of the Vuelta
    o September for Vuelta, Canada and the Worlds
    o October for Lombardia and Paris-Tours
    And no overlapping of Pro Tour races please!

    • Absolutely. The problem with forming “one continuous narrative” is that to do that, you would need the Tour, as the biggest event in the world, to be at the end of the season, and then what would you do with worlds? Hold it in it’s current spot, its completely overshadowed by the tour, move it to earlier in the season, and it doesn’t make sense. The problem is that the “World Championships” is not the biggest event in cycling, but it sounds like it should be. The current calender can remain basically the same, with some minor tweaks that you list above, and it would be fine.

  10. Unlike pretty much every poster so far, I’m prepared to see how things pan out without damning it to failure right from the start.

    I have a sense that they have a plan and that they know what they’re doing. Happy to wait and see if it comes off.

    Rather that than unfailingly shout down every attempt to do something within the sport.

    • +1
      While people have been buzzing about Astana and Velon, Alps and Andes’ latest post is about 4-72-Colombia dropping back to amateur status due to funding and sponsor issues. Not a WT team but the point stands–sponsors are unstable and ASO can’t/won’t share revenue. I’m all for someone trying something.

      I’m still frankly confused on what Velon is planning beyond ‘onboard cameras!’ but I’ll at least wait until I figure out what they’re planning before criticising it 😀

      • I think the on-board camera aspect is attracting attention because it’s a done deal, we’ve seen the footage. But it’s only a trial aspect, there should be a lot more to come and perhaps more substantial matters.

  11. Unless Velon can generate large additional revenue streams, it will remain an irrelevant talking shop. It is somewhat difficult to see how or where these additional streams might be generated.

    It is a shame that serious efforts are not being directed at correcting many of the sports existing shortcomings. These well known shortcomings are surely the greatest barrier to financial investment going forward.

      • “How do you know they are not”. Simple answer I don’t, do you know they are ?

        The evidence so far does not indicate a revolutionary change. The organization has been kicking around for eighteen months under a different guise, and there has been little to show in the public domain. Cameras on bikes are to be welcomed, but they will not generate the sort of income that is required to make a significant difference.

        To make any significant progress Velon will need to generate sufficient revenue, in the tens of millions (pick your currency), for its voice to be heard at the top tables. If you are referring to the sports on going doping problem. I remain unconvinced that there have been any serious advances in this area, other than the BP. Some of the Velon members teams are still recruiting staff with a dubious past. The last comment may generate howls of protest from some, but until these people are out of the sport there can be no significant progress in terms of financial support. Companies will simply see the sport as untrustworthy.

        So to answer your question. The evidence required is large, sustainable revenue generation and an unambiguous stance on doping. Without meeting these twin requirements the group will just be more hot air. I don’t see they currently meet these two critical criteria.

        • The difference is that I don’t claim that they’re not doing x or y.

          And – and I know that this might be shocking 🙂 – things do proceed in the background within organisations in terms of planning, prep for future stages in their evolution, which they don’t disclose from whilst their building their organisation – or even from Day 1.

          As for ‘the ongoing doping problem in the sport’, I follow a number of sports and I can cite a raft of them against which cycling stacks up very favourably in this respect.

          The sooner people understand that it’s impossible to eradicate doping from any sport 100%, the better. Pragmatism is the best M.O., otherwise you’re doomed to eternal disappointment.

          • Sam: I am NOT claiming anything about VELON. I am only reflecting on known company details. These do not at this point in time include significant revenue generation ( I have plans for my own revenue generation, but they are plans) and it also appears to be standing aside on the doping question – leaving it to the relevent authorities.

            Sorry, but I repeat my original two points. That without significant financial clout to give it a power base, and a robust attitude to the continuing doping problem, the company is just more hot air.

            I have never said that doping can be 100% eradicated – I am a realist. That doesn’t mean you don’t try. What you certainly don’t contemplate is employing those with any association, past or present.

          • I’m quite interested in where you want to go with the ‘no one with any association with doping’, BC.

            So, would your ideal scenario be:

            – anyone who has every been sanctioned
            or to include:
            – anyone who has ever managed a team from which a rider has been sanctioned
            – anyone who has ever been a doctor on a team from which a rider has been sanctioned
            – anyone who has ever been a swanny on a team from which a rider has been sanctioned

            What do you want done about someone like Andy Rhis who has owned teams in the past from which riders have been done? And who employs good ol’ Jim Ochowicz (who Travis Tygart appears to have mysteriously not pursued, and who has somehow managed to escape any fallout whatsoever from the Armstrong exposure).

      • Sam: Final attempt and comment. I chose my words carefully ! I said “anyone associated with doping”. Those currently involved with WT teams know exactly too whom I refer – if many outside the inner circle are aware, then so are they. It doesn’t need a doping conviction to not employ someone, one can simply decide they are not the best candidate. The culture and circle has to be broken, and be shown to be broken, at some point in time if the sport is to have any real chance of attracting meaningful investment. The refusal to do so by some teams tells us more about current attitudes within the WT, than any number of words.

        A strong view ? Yes, maybe but I was one of the many innocent victims of the doping era, being cheated, hammered and having dreams stolen all over Europe by the glazed eyed bastards. It is not always just about the money.

        A purely personal observation. I would like to see team owners and those around them excluded – again their names are well known. I don’t see they have a positive role in the future development of the sport. This might be a little more difficult to implement. Money always talks.

        One final point. I am NOT against Velon in principal. I simply question its real purpose, and its ability to generate the revenue required to make whatever difference to the sport they might have in mind.

  12. Is it worth specifying who’s in and who’s out, then deciding/speculating why ?

    In : (current names !)
    BMC Racing
    Omega Pharma-Quick-Step
    Team Sky
    Trek Factory Racing.

    Out :
    Ag2r La Mondiale

    So that’s language/nationality blocs of the English-speaking and Belgian-Dutch teams in; the French teams out; together with the Russians & Kazakhs who perhaps have so much national fed/state funding they’re not bothered.

    Lampre and Movistar don’t fit the mould so easily – why were Movistar in originally but now are out ?

    • As far as I understand everybody is welcomed in theory, not just WT-Teams. They say these 11 teams talked for some time about this move so the question is why not ONE ProConti-Team is in? The statements and interviews I saw were on the same level as the Alonso/Novo statement-much talked, nothing said. Come on, when I launch a new project I make sure I have my ideas, visions, plans in order, so I can use the media attention of the launch to get as many people as possible behind my project. So why at all this badly orchestrated launch, when they don’t want to say what their plans are? My fear is they want real power and they want to create whole new races – their own races, run by Velon and marketed and filmed by Velon.

      • Same here. ASO has all the money, and for better or worse, all the power. I’m no big fan of the French but I’d rather they hold onto it than see it handed over to a corporation called Velon. Most of the folks involved in the thing seem to be the very same short-sighted folks who helped pro cycling get into its current mess. I’m with Jean-Rene Bernaudeau on this one.

    • Don’t forget Katusha are owned by UCI board member Igor Makarov. He’s so wealthy making more money from a cycling team isn’t necessary plus his role at the UCI might mean he has to sit and watch teams for now in order to stay neutral.

    • My understanding is that Movistar’s sponsorship raises questions about signing over image rights to Velon. As a media co., they may want to hold onto those rights themselves. Movistar says they need more time to consider these details. FDJ also stated potential conflicts with their state lottery sponsoship for not signing on yet.

  13. I was quite surprised reading noel commenting about “a couple of hundreds of fans” tuning in. What are the figures in different countries?
    Maybe money should be looked for where there’s some kind of established real interest (or not… that is, maybe it’s better to break in a whole new market, I really don’t have the slightest idea).

    However, in Italy the Giro and the Tour are broadcasted on public tv for free, and they usually have good audience results.
    This year’s Tour was very good because of Nibali, but it wasn’t impressively different from average, meaning that there’s a good share of cycling fans and not only casual viewers who tune in for national pride.
    The worst stage was the first, with a million viewers, from then on we had 1.5m average until the first w-e, which went over 2m, then we went on through the 2nd and 3rd weeks with a 2.4m average with the worst stages at 1.8m for Oyonnax and St.Etienne at the start of the 2nd week. Risoul, Hautacam and the final TIME TRIAL got nearly 3m viewers each. Obviously, the 3rd week was especially brilliant. The share typically was about 20-25% but even reached 30%.
    We can look at the Giro for a comparison.
    Neither the Giro ever scored less than 1m spectators. Until the first w-e it averaged 1.2-1.3m viewers, and the first w-e stages reached about 1.8-1.9m viewers. The four stages preceding the 2nd w-e were relatively “weak”, averaging 1.5m, but from the w-e (included) on, the figures remained steadily above 2m, with the exception of two 1.8m flat stages. The average of the last week + the previous w-e was 2.3m, with an impressive 3.3m in the Zoncolan stage.
    The share was an average 15% with a top at 27% on the Zoncolan stage (the total number of people watching whatever on TV is smaller in July).

    It must also be considered that the channels broadcasting cycling are relatively “small”, the less important between the three generalistic ones (Rai 3, a left-wing cultural channel) and the second specialized in sports (Raisport 2), which has a soft spot for cycling but which has been made secondary to Raisport 1 (*calcio*). Hence, the results are quite good because you don’t have many people staying tuned there as an habit while they’re doing something else (which is quite common with the main public and private channels, Rai 1, Rai 2, Canale 5).

      • Hi Gabriele – just to be clear, my point wasn’t related to numbers of viewers for particular races, rather the number of new subscriptions that Sky might get if they added cycling to their stable of sports. Football was the driver that took them from 0 to 7.5m, and was the vehicle that got them critical mass in a business sense. Cycling would just be a minor add-on to their established stable. Comparisons to football, F1, NFL etc models have little value in my mind.
        I think people need to stop speculating about imaginary untold millions and focus on how we help the top 25-30 teams have sustainable operating costs (ie you don’t need to race half way round the world in places that have no relevance for your sponsors etc etc…)

      • Audiences in Italy are huge because the Giro is on TV live for hours every day, plus remember we add on Il Processo as well as the evening highlights, TV news bulletins and more. The race, at least a 20 second clip but also the live, will reach millions. But in the US the audience for the Tour de France averages 288,000, for the Giro it must be a lot less. Same for Britain, the Tour audience is small and the Giro will be even smaller. But if these “new” markets can be persuaded to watch a lot more then the value is there.

        • The numbers I posted are single users watching the last hour or so of the live stages (they are NOT “peaks” of five-minutes-users).
          About 2m people are watching the race live each day.
          More people (don’t know how many more) will get informed through other sources.
          That’s something which shouldn’t be wasted, while at the same time trying to break through other markets.

        • UK viewership peaked at 3.6m when Wiggins won. ITV4 averaged 600,000 for the highlights show that year. Similar numbers on average in 2011 and 2013. No idea about the Giro, which is on Eurosport.

    • Free to air is the answer. Going back to the rugby comparison I made above, whilst BT/SKY attract less than 100K for a top of the table premiership fixture in England, the BBC get more than twice that figure for a club game in Wales (with 5% of the population of England)

      • You guys, from my perspective are hitting close to the mark. We and I speak as a US cycling fan, most of the time can not get any meaningful coverage of any other then a few races.

        I could see Velon buying the rights to sell/broadcast races via an alternative method. Say a Netflix model 24 hours after a stage of Paris-Nice finishes individuals in underserved countries ( Canada, US, Mexico, etc) can through subscription view 24 hours after the stage or single day race is completed. In HD full screen. ASO will make some money, more individuals would see and be excited in emerging markets, cycling would be better off. The current model of broadcasting would not be interrupted. Europe would use the conventional model of TV stations and local broadcasters.

        The only loser might be the Russian women needing to talk to someone for money, on the pirate feeds of etc!

    • The interesting comparison would be INRNG readership/followers for those periods mentioned above!!
      The reality check being all those who actually logged on / clicked through to this blog actually wanted to be here, as opposed to sitting in front of the TV wondering what to watch.

      TV viewing figures have to be distorted! I for one dont have TV, i watch all content by choice via online play again services, are these channels counted towards viewing figures?
      Do viewing figures tell the ultimate story behind a sports popularity?

      • I share your attitude, but I’m afraid that we (just as all the readers of this blog, or all the cycling fans who are strong internet users) wouldn’t be a good statistical sample. At least, as long as Italy is concerned. Internet figures are harder to sort out, but you can consider that, more or less, when we’re speaking of Italy and the Giro, web users – including live streaming spectators – can be weighed as a 10% of the live stage TV viewers. Which is not so bad (can reach about the same magnitude of the Tour’s audience in the US :-O ), but still isn’t comparable with TV impact in Italy, France or Spain. Not a reason to undervalue the web, though, since the general trend goes that way.

        I wonder why RCS, who produced a quite succesful Giro live streaming for the Gazzetta website, decided to quit. Don’t know if they were forced by the RAI, through economic leverage, I suppose, since RCS is the primary owner of the rights, or if it was a deliberate decision (maybe it cost too much for the present financial situation of RCS?).

  14. Want more money in the sport? A good start would be to make the sport as clean as possible and then convince everyone that it is clean. That would change the sponsorship risk/reward equation and eventually the viewing figures. Easier said than done of course!

      • When by accident I happen to mention that I like pro cycling, people always say two things “Oh, me too, I love the Tour de France” happy to find some common ground (and then, a little bit confused, “But aren’t they all doped?”). I have met many people who don’t know which astronaut Lance Armstrong was, what car a Giro or a Vuelta is, but they know the Tour de France and that people ride bikes there. The Tour de France is bigger than cycling and that in itself is a good thing. Of course that means that cycling and the Tour will always have a dysfunctional relationship, fighting about independence and power, but that’s another story. The meaning of the Tour de France gave cycling purpose and security, when it couldn’t provide that by itself. So cycling once made the Tour and the Tour once sustained cycling. They need each other and to me that is fine. Every sponsor backing the Tour is good for cycling.

      • That’s a point. I keep seeing on this site that a lot of races are gasping for money. Would it be worth it for someone to start an initiative to get sponsors for races, not teams?

        For sponsors, it’d probably be less risky than backing a team that winds up dirty, and makes more sense than putting your logo on teams only to have them to go to countries you don’t exist in. And if the races become more stable, they in turn can increase prizes and incentives and introduce/improve television coverage, which benefits pretty much everyone!

        But I feel like I’m missing something obvious, because surely the races most at risk of disappearing have gone hunting for sponsors already… right? Are sponsors holding back because of a perceived lack of television coverage? Ugh, figuring this out is like a 5x5x5 Rubik’s Cube.

    • Don’t forget that sponsors love doping.
      Big corporations love whatever they can buy and control with money (even if barely legal… or not legal at all), and a doping-driven sporting system is much more similar to their usual environment. A doping-free cycling would see a little but significant share of power returning to the riders, in contractual terms between other things.
      Whoever ignored the role played by sponsors in the doping system (directly or not) would be really naif.

      Sponsor just don’t want scandals to surface, but I’m not sure they’d like a clean sport as the only way to keep it scandal free.
      In fact, one of the few things that partially convinced me (in a very Schrödingerian way) that cycling may nowadays be in some sense “cleaner”… is the sponsors’ massive desertion 😛

        • There are enough unethical corporations around the world that would have an interest in most types of publicity….
          Think diamonds, arms manufacturers, timber/flooring production companies, media outlets , building material mfrs…
          All these types of companies are no stranger to hostilities based around their own business models

          • I would love to see a arms manufacturer sponsoring a cycling team!

            Velon itself looks like a vehicle for team owners to defend and improve their position. What do the spectators/fans gain from having more stable teams or more money in the sport?

            Whenever this gets talked about there seems to been a common belief that more money and professionalization will be a great help to the sport. Like INRNG also claims in the article, the first and foremost result of pumping money into the sport will very likely be wage inflation.

            Should the discussion here not be more about what will happen if and when more money gets injected into the sport than how to do it?

  15. It is not all about viewers of the races themselves. I would have thought that exposure on the main channels in news broadcasts and guest appearances by the cyclists on other shows is what raises the profile. People can know of cyclists and talk about cycling without actually watching the races which with the time commitment required may always remain minority. Wiggins in the UK, for example, is known by far more people than will ever have seen him on a bike.

    • Just to be clear – I’ll take advantage of noel’s “error” replying to Tovarishch to say that I totally agree, with both of you, too.
      That’s why I was asking about other countries broadcasting model and spectators’ number.

      The number I posted are there just to show what the potential can be (and because it’s information; that is, those are the numbers and someone may be interested): they would fall deep down in a ppv model, even if a short-sighted investor may be interested in maximizing its own profit buying the rights and selling the product with a well-studied pricing. When we are speaking of millions, it means that the demand gives you enough space to choose between different pricing options and pick the best one for you. The problem is that this kind of process would be awful for the sport (for all its components) and would quickly end in self-destruction of the broadcasting model itself. Vampires may be interested, it’s up to cycling to say “no”.

      By the way, it’s also worth noting that Italy is not exploring at all the full potential which televised cycling would have (I named the choice of the channels by the public broadcaster, but I could add that there are very few ads in the main channels, and that even RCS often doesn’t look so worried about pushing its products using its whole media firepower… and so on).

      • yeah, I agree on this point too, though I think a distinction has to be made.

        There seems to be a fundamental divide on this forum between the US/UK and the European mainland spectator, which was beautifully exemplified (by an inrng-article, i think?) with the car sponsors of TdF/ToC; Skoda and Lexus.

        The real sponsorship income in Europe comes from races being background TV in the afternoon, the casual viewer often exemplified by the housewife. Hence, you will never be able to replicate this income with subscriptions, and I don’t think anyone will dare try.

        As for the US, one will have to explore different approaches, as the market is fundamentally different and most big races are on at awkward hours. A netflix subscription solution to get at least the ones who do care seems pretty good, no?

        • “…races being background TV in the afternoon, the casual viewer often exemplified by the housewife”.
          This isn’t true in Italy, nor probably in Spain. Maybe in France.
          You can figure that out analysing the distribution of spectators among the different broadcasting channels, the variation depending on the hour, and other factors (besides official data, which won’t be easily made public for free).
          A fundamental sociological difference between the audience of European mainland and USA/UK is certain, as inrng indeed showed, but the sentence I quoted is a substantial misunderstending.
          The majority of those spectators are in fact “actively” watching the race and a relatively reduced percentage can be classified as “casual viewers”. Very few of those will be housewives, since the category enjoys a specialized offer during that time slot, broadcast by the main channels.

          Not as a reply to Håvard, I’ d like to add that a good management should take care of the huge markets that are declining, not only of the (little) growing ones just because it’s easier and looks more rewarding. Taking for granted the cycling heritage of France, Italy and Spain would be a blunder, as Madiot pointed out quite well (and I’m not particularly fond of Madiot).

          • Good points gabriele! Most of us old farts remember when the Giro WAS on TV and Italian housewives had it playing during the day. Made sense for Salvarani and SCIC to sponsor teams, so when Signora decided it was time for a new kitchen they might get the biz. With the specialized channels it would seem only the hard-core enthusiasts watch in any country. It’ll be even worse with pay-per-view. This would seem to make any sponsor trying to sell mainstream stuff look elsewhere, specifically at events popular enough to be broadcast on major, over-the-air TV channels. Cycling might find itself back in the pre-Nivea days if the viewers are just small numbers (in comparison to mainstream TV) of serious cycling fans. I remind those who think pro cycling should be like F1 or MOTOGP that those events are pretty much viewable ONLY with pay-per-view. The bike industry may again have to bankroll the entire thing. And then we’ll end up with a battle against them for control of the sport, just like the old days when Desgrange went back to national teams and a standardized bicycle. Can you imagine how irate guys like Mr. Specialized would be about that? Unless of course it was brand-S bicycles that were used, and he could advertise the fact!

          • Haha, “often exemplified by the housewife” is just another way of saying “people with free time in the afternoon”. It’s just a language thing, I’m referencing a stereotype, “exemplified” being synonymous with “illustrated”.

            The point being that cycling works well as background TV, and a lot of people use it that way. But I don’t think they’ll pay for it. I’d love to see some numbers from when they switch from Rai Sport 2 to Rai 3 (In Italy, the first few hours of the stages is shown on a sports channel, before switching over to a mainstream channel towards the finishing hour or so). You certainly see the difference in target audience during the commercial breaks.

            In regards to these “active” viewers, i suspect a large % of these are older people. I’ve lived in Milan for almost a decade and am often on the roads to Brianza. The scene is dominated by bikers that are 50+ and 99% of my Italian friends my age didn’t know who Nibali was until he won the Tour. The only other cyclists they know of is Pantani, Cipollini and Armstrong.

            But Gabrielle, bottom line is I think we fundamentally agree that if cycling should change to pay-per-view, in most European countries the sport would lose a very large % of its viewers, thus the sport would be worth less overall. In the US, it’s a different story entirely.

          • I can’t link to it but the largest two demographic segments of cycling audience are labelled as “seniors” and “housewives”, not my terms but those used in a marketing report. It’s largely down to the hours of TV on during a midweek afternoon when a relatively small audience for weekdays still adds up to more than a larger sports-orientated audience at weekends.

          • Håvard, I got your point well: in fact, I dedicated only a line or so to a “footnote” about housewives. What I challenge is the whole perspective in which the “real deal” in terms of spectators is related to casual viewers and background tv.
            As I explicitly said, I share inrng view about the sociological divide between areas, so I’m not questioning about age and the such. Nor I want to enter now in a debate – which may ultimately be quite interesting – about what kind of audience you may prefer as a sponsor, or as a broadcaster, or as a fan of the sport and so on.

            The first thing we need to point out is that RAI doesn’t “switch to” Rai 3 (only if they’ve got something else to broadcast, and it’s happening less and less, since cycling has unmatched audience on Raisport 2): the broadcasting continues on both channels.
            That’s why we can observe that Raisport 2 presently accounts for about 30-40% of the total audience during the last hour of the stage, both during the Giro and the Tour. Giro: min. audience 300k, max. 1.1m, avg. 540k. Tour: min 330k, max 1.2m, avg 672k).
            I just fail to see most casual viewers as watching Raisport 2 as “background TV”, especially if you consider that the channel has an average share of 0,81% and jumps to 5-10% – or more – essentially during cycling stages.

            Also note that, whereas it’s quite hard, with this figures, to imagine any “housewife” using Raisport 2 as background TV, instead you can easily imagine that a significative number of spectators who are specifically interested in cycling still watch Rai 3 (especially true in the case of *older* fans – a fact which would shift the relative age distribution between Rai 3 and RS 2 in a very interesting way).

            I would argue that cycling as a style of life and as a sport (from the fans/amateur side) is living a moment of significant social change. Maybe it’s happening worldwide, I don’t know, but for sure it’s happening in Italy (and in Spain something big is moving, too).
            It’s something that won’t automatically have an all-around effect on pro sport: the wave must be ridden, or it will just pass; nevertheless, it has some kind of effect on pro sport, too, even now when no special (re)action is taken on the pro sport’s side.
            It’s something relatively new (it was growing, but it surfaced in the last five years), so it may be hard to understand and catch. Just give a look to the images of the last stages of the Giro and the podia during 2008… 2009… 2010… 2011… Tv audience moves accordingly, both in absolute terms and in channels distribution.

            I suspect that companies, sponsors, marketing studies and – worst of all – cycling institutions, may become aware too late of the occasions they’re losing. And the nature of commercial breaks partly confirms that (even if a lately change can be seen there, too).

          • Working in finance, these aspects of the sport intrigue me greatly and being in love with the sport I hope you are right about it changing for the better.

            Though I don’t think a lot of people would take that bet. I think people that are very passionate about something tends to overestimate its value, and looking at the Velon initiative it seems that this is exactly that. Bunch of guys who loves cycling and overestimates its value.

            Cycling doesn’t necessarily need more money, it needs lower salaries. You’re only worth what the market is willing to pay and as long as teams never keep any liquidity around, of course they will be extremely vulnerable. In what other markets does a $40 mill operation cease to exist in a matter of months, leaving 50 employees without jobs? It is the manager’s responsibility to create a sustainable business model regardless of what they might think is wrong or “unfair” about the world.

            It’s all kind of amateurish, and as an investor I would be scared away. The only winners is sponsors who are willing to think really long term like Sky or maybe Tinkoff (I guess we’ll have to wait and see about him. He certainly also qualifies under “passionate fan”). The only markets where you can make a killing is the ones that are not already established. An extreme example would be Russia in the 90’s. Sky basically created its own demand, and I think they got away with a lot more then they paid for. I would think this model can easily be emulated in different countries.

            But as a fan of the sport I love this unprofessionalism. I love the diversity of teams and how quickly things change. More money and professionalism doesn’t guarantee a better product. The Telegraph Cycling Podcast had a really nice case about it this weekend.

          • Håvard: the salary cap aspect is one of the most significant changes. The UCI and Velon are both looking at this, it’s the only way to stop an oligarch outbidding everyone.

            But harder in practice than theory. Cap a “salary” and there can be bonuses. Cap both and riders will take money in sponsorship and endorsements… maybe even a briefcase of cash as a welcome gift to a team. In short a salary cap is hard to enforce in sport that’s already struggled with the rules.

  16. If the ASO and TdF hold so much power, why not make a season long competition for teams to qualify for the TdF. Maybe use the 12 months from August to July as the time frame to aggregate points. This way the teams are giving the ASO something (heightened importance) while asking for a cut of the broadcasting fees. That and maybe a traditional calendar year prize for best individual with $1 million behind it.

    Alternatively maybe Tinkov could lend some money for Velon to buy some of the struggling races in which Velon could experiment with.

      • It seems to work for NASCAR in the US. I know its kind of a bad example but I think the first 2/3 of the season is for drivers to qualify for the Championship but it doesn’t seem to diminish the importance of single events like the Daytona 500. And it adds some import to the last race leading up to it.

  17. I feel cycling’s pieces are greater than the whole. That the tradition and essence of every event in every region demanding specific styles and characters to win them perennially flavors a richly diverse tapestry of this gorgeous sport. To even think of homogenizing a cycling season a la F1 or any other horribly canned and marketed professional sport makes my skin crawl and wreaks of a cadre of execs out to capitalize on a targeted perceived undervalued commodity with zero regard for whether it works or not. It’s a widget and they’ll be on to the next one. Or, it’s vain participants desperate for cycling to be recognized and respected and as popular as it “should” be. Bike cameras – they’re cool – in doses. Better screen graphics and metrics – ok. I’m not that worried about it. I know what’s going on. There have been occasions, the Olympic road race is the best example, where some information was lacking making it challenging. But why would that make Velon necessary or why does UCI (simply the governing body) get involved. That’s a broadcasting concern. It’s how much they want to invest in the show. How much return they get on advertising. Cycling popularity is wonderfully grown organically. Grass roots. For better and worse, it swells and condenses with the characters and story lines. And it’s pretty popular right now. Not what we had for a bit but I think we’ll take reasonably popular over sell our souls for that spotlight. After 30 years in this, I love when someone “discovers” the sport. That there is a team element shocks them, the tactics intrigue them and the courses and scenery and crowds broaden their whole world. And then they’re out riding. It’s so much better than forcing a product down someone’s throat. Maybe it’s old school cycling romantic vs new world business model. I get it. Please don’t distill this down to inanity.

    • Thanks, I enjoyed reading that.

      A small reply on the broadcasting point, at the Olympics it seems the IOC told the UCI’s broadcasting agents to simplify the graphics as much as possible… so no KM to go graphics. But even for the Tour de France I know the production crew are keen to do so much more, but the budget isn’t there as it already costs so much for the mobile broadcasts, aerial relays and more.

    • But don’t we all agree that something can be done better? Today it’s a a bit of a dog eat dog world out there. With better organisation of the sport, there should be more money to go around and, hopefully, fewer scandals. TV coverage should improve and those of us who watch football as well (I might be the only one) know that it can still improve in cycling.
      And don’t we all want the teams/riders to have more security? It wont happen without money!
      The only real downside for us is that we might have have to pay to watch it on TV and it will be harder to find a good spot on Alple d’Huez. I’m willing to accept that.

      • The main change I’d like to see is the elimination of limitations on race distances and the introduction of limitations in electronic devices and gearing. The way cycling is broadcast would be optimal if racing was not as poor as it is nowadays (the problem is what is happening, or not happening, on the road, not the way it is conveyed to the viewers). Apart from that, it should cost a lot less to run a team (teams should be smaller), so away with the WorldTour and the existing salary levels.

        • From watching races for a good number of years, I think we do have the tendency to view past racing through rose-tinted glasses. Cite a boring race from the 2014 season, and I’ll match one from any season in the 90s and 2000s….Memories work like that to retain the ones that really stand out as massively exciting or with events that really linger for good or bad – and filter out the majority of races which really had little to commend them.

    • In fact, I got into cycling this year, for the very reasons you described. I even borrowed an utility bike with a frame as old as I am and the ten most treacherous gears I have ever encountered, because I don’t have the money for a decent bike but wanted to start now.

      It’s in light of this that I would like to gently point out the old days of cycling also involved (among other things) no rider salaries at all and people using their casquettes to wipe their butts.

      Nothing is ever, EVER only a black and white matter of old school romance vs new world business.

  18. An important question (and one which we may never know the answer to) is what is the current funding model for Velon? No organization can operate without capital. Clearly teams complaining about limited resources to currently operate themselves can’t invest a significant amount of capital to another organization. Such a venture is going to require significant resources to get started; this means people and money.

    Learning about the membership rules, shares distribution, current contributions (along with future requirements), and what outside parties are involved might help us learn where this is really going.

    • Presumably they are all contributing something but it should be substantial money in order to fund the staff, whether the CEO but the additional costs like expenses, legal advice and more.

      As a company it will be registered somewhere so we might see the accounts in time.

      • Is it a company? Or just an agreement by the 11 teams to work together, without a corporate structure? There’s no active company called Velon Limited registered in the UK, and the trademark in the name was applied for by a law firm (who have previously represented Rapha), not Velon itself. It could be a more fluid arrangement at present, with any additional costs covered by the participating teams.

  19. Good comments from Christopher ATX. “a cadre of execs out to capitalize on a targeted perceived undervalued commodity with zero regard for whether it works or not.” First of all, there already IS a season long narrative for cycling.

    secondly, Graham Bartlett and the teams that signed on to the Avignon Project have unrealistic expectations; about how much revenue they can generate and how cycling can be packaged.
    Former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi called cycling “the last proletarian sport”. That is
    some of why cycling, a 120 year old sport, continues to maintain it’s charm and fascination in the
    face of packaged, canned and processed sports like euro soccer footbal, nfl and f1.

    Regarding the on-the-bike cameras, what about the image rights of the riders, who are featured in
    these vids with (once again) no extra remuneration. Yes the teams usually own the image rights of the
    riders, but for this additional use?

    Finally, I see the Velon thing as a just big money grab; Bartlett will try to jack the prices up by selling
    add-ons, but luckily, I believe ASO will never cooperate with revenue sharing as there simply is not
    enough to go around. As for RCS’s Vegni weighing in, he has no say in the commercial decisions there and it’s had to believe that the financially strapped RCS would give up any revenue to Velon.

  20. I read that Velon wants some end of season culmination race. Instead of climaxing in July at the tour, a narrative that lasts the whole season will be easier and more profitable to sell for TV/internet. Could they be thinking of the Worlds as playing this role or something altogether new? Anybody else have any sense of what they may be shooting for?

  21. Sky and 21st Century Fox likely hold the keys to the whole thing as they have both the cash and the TV networks to make the whole thing work. I wouldn’t be shocked to see one or the other attempt to purchase media rights for races and then act as production company and distributor with the teams getting a cut.

  22. After MPCC, ASO and UCI the next player on the table? the cycling scene off the street gets ever more interesting. what i want know are not bike cam, i want live pictures from the conference room.

  23. I don’t know if there’s any news at all, in the end, cause I don’t see any viable and sustaining ways to increase revenue. The on board camera’s clips are OK, but no-one really thinks they can generate additional revenue. ASO or other race organisers won’t pay, the viewers won’t pay, where are they suppose to generate income?
    It all lies down that cycling events don’t sell tickets (except some VIP packages, but the sum is insignificant), and although they can attract TV money, the whole production costs are so much expensive. So, no income and this will have to be divided by 11 (or even more).
    So I don’t see any organiser sharing revenue, or to put it better, sharing revenue that will make the difference for the trade teams. Even 1 million divided by 20 teams, means just 50.000. Will it make anyone’s budget healthier? In the same place this million makes a difference to the organisers, and subsequently to the teams and the races they take part.
    Is it possible that merchandising revenue will ever amount to a significant sum? Hard to tell. Sure, people who do cycle and watch races etc, spend a lot. But it’s already ridiculously expensive to buy clothes from the apparel companies plain, imagine if there will be a WT team premium added to it.
    The only way, I see this work, for Velon and only, is to try and organise their events, too. Instead of Strade Bianche, they will organise their version of the race, and you know where the great names would be riding. But this doesn’t mean a bigger pie for all, just a redistribution of the same pie.

  24. Look the other way through the blinkers for a moment. Organisers like ASO, (or RCS or the Flanders Classics) work on an established base of petits commercants et entreprises that their main sponsors love to schmooze on a round-robin basis. An invitation to the village depart or arrivee is highly coveted and used as a reward to clinch deals. Every day for three weeks these companies get to work their clients and prospects in the framework of national TV coverage which shows the country in a way to be proud of. Then there’s the regions and departements which are desperate to get these same companies building factories and distribution centres there, plus the day-long tourism promotion of their best sights on TV for a domestic audience that is the most likely to come there on holiday. Feeding this machine all costs money and it’s self-sustaining like a travelling fair. Cycling became the pretext over many years for the event because it was the only sport that had nationwide appeal, long before national TV. Le Tour has got heritage and not just for the sporting element.
    The international broadcast rights have become quite thick icing on a very nice cake. ASO owns the circus, inner ring and all. It will do all it can to protect the core and it will always do just enough to reward the troupe of players, starting with those teams that are sponsored by the same companies that work most closely with ASO every July. For the rest, if they want to come and help make the show, well that’s great but they shouldn’t go thinking they a r e the show and they certainly should not think of making it their property.
    – This really pisses-off the big shot teams all backed by high-rollers because they are losing money, but what else can they do apart from turning up every July?

    • Quite so. Cycling means races. No race no cycling. Teams are not the necessary structure here. If someone with money wants to run a cycling show and try to make some profit, he should invest in a race. There are quite a few that could revive this way: Bordeaux-Paris, Giro del Piamonte, Vuelta a los Puertos, Züri-Metzgete, Midi-Libre, Vuelta a los Valles Mineros, Classique des Alpes, etc…

  25. When teams or organizations such as this discuss the difficulty of finding sponsors, why do they never mention how doping problems in the sport have scared potential and existing sponsors away?

    • Because what scares away sponsors is not doping, it’s the public treatment it receives.
      And the underlining conflicts (which mean instability) in the sport, leading to a firework *antidoping fight* that’s really aimed to put pressure on this or that subject.
      If it was just doping, abundance of doping, or lack of an effective antidoping fight, we would see sponsors running away from the likes of tennis or NBA, and it’s nowhere near that (quite the contrary).
      Maybe that’s what Velon are referring to when they hint at the NBA model 🙂

  26. Let’s talk about ‘the pie’ a bit more.

    We tend to limit what we think of as ‘the pie’ to the existing fan base, which is pretty dominated by often hardcore, long-standing cycling fans like ourselves.

    I read a Marketing Week article the other day about how Team Sky are reaching new audience demographics through their social media channels, specifically people into music and cars. They can gather data on this to show to sponsors as evidence – one of the upshots has been that Jaguar increased their sponsorship of the team by a multiple of 5. I know of people who’ve actually gone and bought the XF Sportbrake off the basis of seeing it in Sky marketing pieces; and I know of people who weren’t into cycling before but were into cars – and who now take a lot more interest in cycling.

    I just use this as an example about how growing the size of the pie – the audience, the reach, the sponsors – is possible, in a number of ways.

Comments are closed.