The Pot of Gold

Legend has it that you’ll find a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Science might disprove this but this week there are many rainbow jerseys in Virginia this week and it’s all a terrific money spinner for the UCI.

The road cycling world championships is the UCI’s single largest source of income, accounting for almost a third of the governing body’s annual income. Within this there are three components which are roughly 40%-35%-25%:

  • Hosting fee: the largest of the three, this fee is charged to the host town for the privilege of staging the week’s racing and a significant sum. The UCI does spend money on technical preparation like course design, coordination and setting the selection criteria but much is left to the local committee and the fee that’s banked is lucrative
  • TV rights: the broadcasting rights to show the World Championships. If you’ve wondered why there’s a a team time trial event with the pro teams then stringing out the championships for a week and having the big teams racing makes the broadcast package more valuable
  • Marketing: rights for the sponsors like Shimano, Mapei and others, the lesser of the three pots but still lucrative both for the week but also because the rainbow jersey is trademarked

In 2014 the UCI took in revenues of 33.4 million Swiss Francs (CHF). The table above shows the split of the UCI’s organisation activities, for road this is largely the World Championships. It earned CHF 11.4 million and appears to spend about CHF 3 million on the events leaving it with a tasty CHF 8.4 million profit. Overall it earns CHF 21 million from competition revenues and ends up with CHF 11.2 million, a margin of over 50%, impressive compared to the 20-25% margin earned by the likes of ASO and RCS. As you can see road cycling accounts for over half.

Special status
The UCI is dependent on the worlds and there are even special rules to protect the race’s status. Take the anti-doping section which ban a rider under investigation from taking part. Here’s the rule:

Note the first and last paragraph, anyone merely under investigation cannot ride to protect the “reputation of the World Championships”. This doesn’t apply to other events on the calendar (except the Olympics) so the UCI is saying a rider should be blocked from the worlds but they’re eligible to race in the World Tour and start Il Lombardia the following week. Note it’s investigation which may lead to something rather than any more proof: potentially stopping an innocent rider, especially if the “investigation” is one of those Italian jobs that takes years before ending with little to show. You’ll remember the case of Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, it was because of this rule and because an investigation had started that he was dropped from the British team before the worlds and the story came out. It does seem as if the UCI is applying a precautionary principle that it denies to other races.

Rainbow brands
Of course the “rainbow jersey” isn’t actually a rainbow, it’s one of cycling’s conceits that we talk about it as if our eyes are closed: the bands do not the spectrum of light from red to violet. Instead they’re stripes representing the olympic rings. But that pot of gold is still there because the “rainbow colours” are a defined term by the UCI and trademarked around the world. Anyone wanting to put the rainbow bands on their products has to pay a royalty to the UCI.

Ther are strict rules about their use in the sport. You might remember Tony Martin being fined for having the world champion stripes on his time trial bike during the 2013 Tour de France’s team time trial stage: he was only the reigning individual time trial champion at the time and so not allowed to have the rainbow stripes in the team, not even the stripes on his bike. This rule has since been relaxed because but it still serves to illustrate the zealous protection applied to the image.

So far, so good
Big income, vigorous protection of trademarks: it’s all good as the worlds is a valuable week of racing and that helps cover the governing body’s work and so it’s normal the UCI tries to maximise revenue from this. The danger is that the UCI chooses the highest bidder rather than the best course. If the race gets awarded to too many boring circuits then it risks devaluing the rainbow jersey with too many boring winners. This makes the world championships less exciting and less valuable. L’Equipe’s Philippe Brunel penned a lament yesterday that the worlds has become stale and the rainbow bands are losing their lustre:

“Over the years the worlds has become an autumnal race in the twilight, a lottery that rewards the ‘champion of that day'”

Nostalgia? Even during the fabled “golden ages” of yesteryear lesser riders won – Harm Ottenbros anyone? – but does seem increasingly common for the title to be won by secondary riders who do not define their era, for every household name like Cadel Evans or Mark Cavendish there are more like Rui Costa, Oscar Freire or Alessandro Ballans: excellent, crafty riders but just not the best the sport can offer to the wider publiv. Whether you agree with L’Equipe is up to you but if the perception takes root the UCI may paying for this as a less prestigious race loses value.

You’re watching the racing and hopefully the UCI’s blazer brigade is enjoying the action too, if this weekend’s road racing is as good as the time trials we’re in for some great sport. For the governing body this week is about more than races and rainbow jerseys, it holds the UCI Congress this weekend, its annual general meeting. The week is also crucial to the governing body because of the income generated from the hosting fee, the TV rights money and sponsorship: this pays for a lot of what the UCI does. The UCI even has special rules to protect its own race and trademarks for the rainbow bands. But the late season slot and the absence of many star names means the title is increasingly being won by riders who may be very good on the day but they’re not necessarily the dominant riders of their era. If this trend continues then those rainbows won’t have a pot of gold any more.

90 thoughts on “The Pot of Gold”

  1. The UCI rule regarding making riders under investigation ineligible seems rather loose and rife with the potential for corruption. Under investigation by whom? Is this rule really enforced?

    Cyclocross racers Laurens Sweeck, Tom Meeusen, and Bart Wellens were all under investigation by Belgian authorities in relation to the investigation of Dr. Chris Mertens for ozone treatments. They were initially removed from eligibility for the 2015 National Team at a CX World Cup & World Championships by the Belgian Federation for fear that the UCI would find them ineligible. However the Belgian Court of Arbitration for Sport (BAS) ruled they were eligible. Meeusen went on to finish 6th in the Elite Race, while Sweeck won silver in the U23 race at the World Championships.

    So was this case inconsistent with UCI rules? Is this rule for road only? Did the UCI feel that CAS would back the BAS decision if this were further appealed?

      • Depends. If its an ABP case, its CADF who review the data, decide whether to proceed, consider the rider’s explanation, and then make a call on guilt or not. The process used to be for the UCI to then hand the case over to the national fed for subsequent action, but they’ve now brought that in-house.

  2. Thanks really interesting as always! I’m not sure the road race is becoming devalued though – Phillipe Gilbert was a classic recent winner. Valverde and Rodriguez should have been there in 2014, they just messed it up, allowing Costa to capitialise. I like the way it – and Il Lombardia – sign off the season. Keeps the excitement going throughout.

          • I still think Uran would have won if he hadn’t treated us to that spectacular over-the-bars swallow dive with about 5k to go… he was looking strong.

          • Actually, Nibali and Paolini crashed with two laps to go. At the time, Giovanni Visconti was leading the race with Bartosz Huzarski, so the Italians had at least three riders coming into the final.

            The 2013 WCs, were held in Tuscany, the home region of the Italian coach, two time World Champion Paolo Bettini. Even a casual follower would have read about how much effort the Italians were putting into the team and training. With a bit of bad luck, the Italians lost the race.

            The two Spaniards, as we saw, didn’t even have a chance against Costa. And nobody’s going to argue that Costa is or was a better rider that either Valverde or Purito.

      • IIRC Valverde sat up with “tired legs” to let his then-team mate Costa go away from Rodriguez, then suddenly recovered enough to sprint for a medal.

        Interesting to see how they get on this year, with Valverde racing the final day of the Vuelta for the green jersey J-Rod thought he’d banked.

        • Surely Rodriguez couldn’t have thought he’d banked it as Valverde did exactly the same thing in the 2012 Vuelta. (He also took the combination classification with that move.)
          Doesn’t seem like a course for Rodriguez anyway – although you suspect if it was Valverde might jam a stick in the spokes of his front wheel.

  3. Fantastic ITT win by kiriyenka yesterday. “Up there” for the last 3-4years and super consistent. A very well deserved individual win for him. Malori has also been very consistent over a long period of time. So genuinely pleased for them both.

    I am surprised by Coppel though, he doesn’t seem to have had the background results I would normally envisage. Would he just be fresher than others? Unsure but I hope it’s true, for the sake of the French and cycling generally.

    Just my thoughts, that’s all, not finger pointing in any way. But if someone has raced less or easier early season, is it feasible to have a late season few “results”. Do riders do this?

    Also I have to make a special mention of Taylor Phinneys result. Considering his injuries only a year ago, a fantastic recovery and I’m sure he has WC set of ITT bands with his name in a few years time. Great he could ride at his “home” champs. He could be a force to be reckoned with next year (again!)

  4. Good article as always, but aren’t you being a bit harsh on Oscar Freire? Maybe Roman Vainsteins would be a better example of a recent “much of a muchness” world champion.


    • I guess it’s just a typo.
      Should switch Evans and Freire. No, wait – maybe Cavendish and Freire ^__^

      Just kidding, but the Freire reference is a bit of nonsense, even more so given the Worlds he won. It’s not very coherent with the “easy Worlds” argument, either. Anyway, I think he absolutely was an *era defining* rider.
      That said, the “easy Worlds” problem exists and deserves to be tackled.

      • It’s difficult to come up with any objective way of scoring an “era-defining” rider, particularly in the modern era of specialisation when the best stage racers rarely race one-day events and, to a lesser extent, vice versa.

        But being entirely subjective, compare this list:

        Hinault / Maertens / Sarroni / Lemond / Criquielion / Zoetemelk / Argentin / Roche / Fondriest / Lemond

        with this one:

        Vainsteins / Freire / Cipollini / Astarloa / Freire / Boonen / Bettini / Bettini / Ballan / Evans

        On the first list (World Champions 1980 – 1989) I suspect even now, 30 years on, most of us could give a reasonable account of the palmares of the whole list; maybe only Criquielion is of a slightly lesser calibre, but even he was a classic winner and regular in the top 10 of the Tour de France.

        Whereas the second list (World Champions 2000 – 2009) is only a decade old, but even at that recent distance, who could honestly say they can recall any of the other victories of Vainsteins, Astarloa or Ballan?


        • As you say, I think that phenomenon is down to the logistics of modern racing.

          The Cycling News podcast had an interview with Mark Cavendish a week or so ago where he was very keen to make the point that competition in the peloton is extremely high at every single race these days. The depth in the WT squads these days means that it’s extremely difficult for anyone to win (let alone repeatedly dominate) a particular race unless it’s very well suited to their attributes as a rider. Not to mention that they need to be coming into the race well-rested and have their team firing on all cylinders. The competition is so high that if any one of these factors is off, it can leave even the best riders struggling. Obviously this effect is exacerbated by the circumstances at the WCs, whereby it’s a one-day race, at the end of the season and you aren’t racing with your usual trade team.

          Personally, I think it adds to the drama that the winner could come from any of the top-10 or 20 contenders, whoever brings the goods on the day can take home the jersey and make a name for themselves!

          N.B. they also made the point that he’s got 14 race wins this season, as well as General and Points Classification wins. Thats a pretty decent haul by anyone’s standards, take note gabriele 😉

          • I feel Cav’s words on CN podcast (as they’ve been reported here, at least) are a bit of an excuse.
            I could bother discussing why, but I suspect that we all know why his analysis is quite wrong. We aren’t living the most competitive moment ever when pure sprinting is concerned (despite, OTOH, a good number of high quality ‘resilient sprinters’ or not-just-sprinters).

            He’s apparently got to that phase of his career when he’s no more a dominant force in his customary playground, hence he struggles more to win and needs to try and find new options (something he’s keen to do, looking with renewed interest towards track, or exploring different way of racing, say, like he did in the Nationals). This year he really won *two* races, the Tour stage and the Kuurne.
            His May was like an old glory’s exhibition tour, against a barely competitive field, instead of going to the Giro, a race he used to love (yeah, I know that there was a good deal of pressure from the team, too – yet…): besides, it’s quite a signal of decline that he goes around counting petty victories like that.

            Sure, sprinters like Petacchi went on winning well over 30, but Petacchi spent a good number of previous years as a gregario. And he had a different kind of sprint, less spoiled by aging. The golden age of a rider usually lasts about 7-9 years. Potentially, Cav can have a couple more of years on the very top, then go on winning from time to time. Maybe it’s just a bad phase, but it’s two years below par, now, and 2013, despite a great Giro, was starting to be a bit unconvincing (as well as 2012). Looks like a curve, now.

            However, just to be clear: mine above was a joke. It can be argued if the pure sprinters really deserve *two* Worlds in just 10 years, and Cav’s was probably the most ‘unselective’ in a very long time (uhmmm… ever?).
            All the same, he deserved the rainbow as much as Cipollini.
            He stays right beside Supermario as the best pure sprinter in decades and decades.
            He’s in cycling history, no doubt, and he’s indeed *era defining* – as a sprinter.

            Even if, generally speaking, Cipollini might be slightly superior, especially in terms of pure talent and physical gifts, on a strictly personal note, I even prefer Cav over Cipo because he’s more open to Classics, track… finishing GTs – trying to go out of his comfort zone, sometime (if only Cipollini had been a braver racer!).
            *How* Cavendish won his Sanremo will stick in fan’s memory forever.

            I don’t think I’m underestimating him at all. I’m simply not that optimistic about his winning curve perspective. Still, as I said, I’m far from being totally sure about that. Maybe a second youth lies right ahead.

          • Cipollini is the greatest of his generation, for sure, but he never even made it to Paris. Doped and lazy.
            Cav at his apogee, all time Greatest, ever.

        • I agree with what you say (as I pointed out in the last line of my previous post), and I agree even more with the accent you place on specialisation.
          That said, the Worlds have always been more or less like that, you tended to have the couple of odd names out of more or less any decade. Sure, they could be more or less odd depending on the nature of the course, the average level and number of top competitors in cycling, the specialisation of riders.
          That said, for a Classics fan isn’t hard at all to remember that Ballan was one of the best cobbled races riders of the decade, he won a Flandres and podiumed several times (!) in the Roubaix as in Harelbeke or Strade Bianche, besides having his good bunch of top ten Saremo finishes. And the rivals he faced…!
          Astarloa is merely anecdotal, but most Spanish/Classics fans will remember he was the first Spaniard to win the Flèche, before it became a Spanish province. No comparison is anyway possible with Ballan or anyone of the above mentioned – even more so if we speak about Veinsteins.
          However… was Roche that great outside that single *special* year? I wouldn’t say that. He was good, sure, nice stage racer, but far from an incredible top rider. And are you so sure that many fans can name a lot of Fondriest’s victories? He had a great 1993 with Sanremo, Flèche, Zurich, Emilia… but, apart of that? I’m Italian and I remember only the Worlds. What about Zoetemelk, he was a big in stage racing, but was he a greater one day racer than Ballan? I’m not sure about that. What did he won, a Flèche? (everyone of them is winning the Flèche, it seems 🙂 ). And as a Monument rider?

    • Agreed! Oscar Freire’s palmares would be the envy of a lot of pros. As to the “champion of that day” what does he want… a world championship stage race? All the racers know what day the race is held and the winner is the best of those who showed up, pretty much like all races. A variety of courses that play to the various strengths/weaknesses of the racers offers a chance to plenty of different types of winners over time. Perhaps the sour-raisins are because the last French pros to wear the rainbow stripes were “greats” like LeBlanc and Brochard?

    • Not too harsh, he’s a great rider but hardly the big household name in Spain. Contador by contrast is a real big name. We’ve only had two grand tour winners as world champions in a quarter of a century. Not that grand tour = best, but the public may not appreciate the crafty ways. Vainsteins certainly is an example of a lucky rider on the day, Igor Astarloa too.

      • Well, truth is that as long as I’ve experienced, Freire is pretty much venerated in Spain. Not as much as Contador (but how many Contadors – especially in terms of palmarés – does the whole cycling history count? A dozen?), but quite near, more than Valverde or Sastre or Purito – or Pereiro. No Indurain, either, but Indurain is like god here.

        Freire won the rainbow *three* times, not a very common feat, I’d say – two of them were among the five more selective Worlds in some 16 years – compare with Cav.
        And, yeah, some *three* Sanremo (a Monument, albeit an *easy* one – but you can ask Cipo or Cav or Petacchi… or Sagan how easy is it to repeat, or simply win once; or, again, you can also give a look to the company Freire’s in with 3 or more wins in Sanremo).
        A couple of true Classics like Gent and Paris-Tours, plus several semiclassics like Brabantse Pijl, the transition race, in every sense, between cobbles and côtes – which says a lot about him. He got second in Harelbeke, imagine that (but he never could race much on the cobbles because his back problems) – and he got 6 top-tens in 12 years of Amstel Gold Race.

        If you also consider his health troubles which prevented him both from training and racing… he’s a huge rider. Not many I’d pick over him in the last 20 years of Worlds winners, three or four at most. Not even sure if Cadel is on his level – maybe it’s more of a draw.

        However, the specialisation we were speaking about with Tom et al. is a problem. One GT winner in the last 20 years, plus one serious GT contender (both on *very* peculiar courses), 5-7 winners in the previous 20 years (Saronni & Moser uhmmmm… are they true GT winners?).
        Nothing really unprecedented in history, it also depends on available talent and attitudes: between the Coppi age and the appearance of Merckx, there was more than a decade of relatively split talents, the emperors Rik I and Rik II on one side, Anquetil, Gaul, Bahamontes on the other. We could even say that the three Worlds won by Coppi, Bobet and Kübler between 1951 and 1954 were sort of an exception in a long afterwar 20 years period of ‘specialisation’ which only ended mid-Sixties.

      • Contador’s palmares in one day races is less than impressive. It doesn’t really matter if he’s a big household name in Spain, there are others that represent his nation, notably one A Valverde, that are above him in this particular pecking order. The WC are benefit event for the world’s highest profile cyclist of the day.

      • Who cares if Freire is not a household name in Spain? That’s the Spanish’ problem. Freire is as great a one-day man as anyone after perhaps Kelly. Much greater than Cavendish, no possible discussion, however exaggeratedly popular he may have been made to be (which is the fault of those who helped create that perception).

  5. The men’s road race is 16 laps. Does that seem like a hamster wheel to anyone else?

    Isn’t this somewhat a criterium style?

    How often has the mens world cup road race been that many laps? How many have been a straight forward road race rather than a laps type race? What is the average laps in the race when the race has laps? Etc.

    • All world championships are run on lap courses. A race in the countryside cannot deman the rights fees the UCI desires. the host city also needs tourists to stay and spend money in the city to recoup their investment, hence a lap race.

      This is not a crit as the course length is 14 km. A crit course is short so that there a man, many laps guaranteeing the spectators see lots of action. This course is typical of a world championship.

      • Speaking of recouping investments, in recent history, the host of road cycling world championships end up with huge losses. As the article points out, the UCI and Andrew McQuaid will have come out far ahead on the deal.

        • well, if you believe their press releases, virginia and richmond will benefit a bunch financially… but those may be written by the people who write “stadium economic impact” studies…

          i can see them having a net gain though… even discounting european tourists, richmond is within a 6 hour drive (and closer in many cases) of over 100 million people… and it is a really nice area for a few days of vacation, especially at this time of year…

    • I’m generally not a fan of this style of course either – don’t like it in Quebec and Montreal. It tends to mean riders can spring fewer surprises, as everyone’s been round it a few times. Also makes it less interesting scenery-wise.
      But I think it’s inevitable for the WC – just wish they’d avoid it in other races.

      • Yes, I agree, it doesn’t usually make for great TV viewing. The race previews seem to be making a big deal of this year’s course, saying that the cobbles and close succession of climbs could help a group to jump clear and stay clear, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

        The Tour Down Under are quite fond of the multi-lap format too, but that might just be because all the towns are too far apart too race between!

        • i think that the idea of the TdU is to have the whole race center upon one location, thus alleviating a bunch of logistical issues, as well as make it easier for fans to attend several stages…

          i kind of like the idea of this… it definitely is a cost saver (the whole caravan of teams doesn’t have to move from location to location), makes it a ton easier logistically (again, teams don’t have to move), and it allows a fan to travel to a location and “see” every stage…

          i don’t think it would be the worst idea in the world if some other of the week long races went in this direction…

      • I’m here in Richmond now and as a spectator, the course is great. I’ve been to many euoropen races where I see the peloton pass once and my day is over so I’ll take this Richmond course over those anyday. Great crowds here too. The Eritreans are the best and in big numbers.!

  6. The money side is not the big issue here for me. If they continue to pick ‘boring’ courses, the revenues will go down anyways. The double standard for the riders is a Pandora’s box of a loophole however, great find! Did that rule come about after the 2007 Bettini debacle?

    • Well, then next year’s event in Qatar should be fantastic.

      Will they be permitted to have Women’s events with the nationwide ban on tight-fitting clothing? Maybe they’ll run their events at night with no lights? It will at least be below 33c at that hour.

      Don’t be gay in Qatar either. It’s a crime punishable by death.

      Money. Money. Money.

        • @Channelzero: having ridden for four years in Qatar (as a male – with fellow female roadies) no issues with men or women riding in Lycra in Qatar – they are perfectly sensible in that
          respect, acknowledging that this particular attire is standard for the sport.

          They even have a ladies national team riding in proper cycle gear (although most with tight fitting headscarf as well) – occasionally participating in the local races.

  7. Another excellent overview.

    It would appear logical that the most important event in the worlds, should closely follow the ‘classics season’. All the best one day riders available and on form. I know the arguments about a crowded calendar, but whilst there is some sort of partial review in progress, maybe its time to apply some common sense and logic. That’s probably too much to expect !

    • Parcours changes around from year to year, so a course that may suit a Cancellara or a Gilbert one year, wouldnt necessarily suit the same the next. Think 2012 – right up Gilbert’s street. The next year in Tuscany – not so much.

      Besides, the Classics guys build their form for the Spring Classics, and then as soon as either the Cobbles or the Hillies are done and if had gone to plan, they’d peaked at the right time, they’re on the downward slope from that peak.

  8. They could do with choosing a greater variety of parcours: apart from the odd year for the sprinters, it tends to be a similar looking circuit most years.

  9. Worlds from 1999 on.

    Number of riders with a under-one-minute time difference behind the winner, number of riders with a under-15″-time difference.
    More or less, the figures hints respectively at how hard was the course and how hard was the selection made in the last lap (more or less, how many riders ‘could win’).

    In a couple of cases I added within parenthesis the number of riders who could *really* fight for the rainbow (tactics from a small group sometimes increase the time difference from the winner). In Astarloa’s case, I also added the number of riders within 10″ because the selection was very late, and there’s a little statistical distortion (like, a lot of riders arrived at 14″!). However, you’ve got the rigorous number out of the parenthesis and the other ‘interesting suggestions’ within it.

    13 8 Freire
    31 24 Vainsteins
    51 44 Freire
    48 26 Cipollini
    68 47 (6) Astarloa
    18 16 Freire
    70 24 Boonen
    53 44 Bettini
    51 11 Bettini
    14 12 Ballan
    8 0 (4) Evans
    24 22 Hushovd
    105 81 Cavendish
    37 27 Gilbert
    15 1 (3) Rui Costa
    43 31 Kwiatkowski

  10. Ivan Stevic is back at Richmond this year. I guess investigations were over for him some time ago. It’s a mystery how a guy like that gets to ride at the WC and Olympics and others are blacklisted.

    Also, Altria (tobacco products, staunch promoters of cancer causing products) is a very visible sponsor of the event in Richmond. I thought tobacco products as advertisers for IOC sports was banned?

    • UCI rule 1.2.030:

      Without prejudice of the applicable law, no brand of tobacco, spirits, pornographic products or any other products that might damage the image of the UCI or the sport of cycling in general shall be associated directly or indirectly with a licence-holder, a UCI team or a national or international cycling competition.

      My emphasis above. I suppose Altria gets around it by being the corporate name rather than the brand.

      • But Altria’s various products (Marlboro?) are definitely “associated … indirectly” with the Worlds through this sponsorship. Having said that, both Richmond and Virginia Slims are brands of cigarettes, so it would be tricky to avoid for this particular Worlds. It would be nice to think that the sponsorship gave the UCI at least a little pause for thought, though.

      • i believe your supposition must be correct, since televised tobacco advertisement/signage is definitely verboten in the usa, and has been for awhile… until it was made illegal, big tobacco used to practically own racing (motorized version) here, especially nascar…

        i wonder if they are somehow getting away with it because of the “wine estate” they also own?

        hard liquor is ok though, there had been an “unwritten rule” forever here about not advertising it via tv, but that unwritten rule went away several years ago…

          • oh yea, i just meant from a “usa laws” perspective… from a uci perspective, it is out…

            i understand why tobacco advertising is a no-no (and agree with it, even though i partake of tobacco)…
            i can also understand (although i think it’s a bit puritan) on the pornography…
            hard liquor, i don’t understand… if wine is ok, and beer is ok, then liquor should be ok…

            i am somewhat amused by the “might damage the image of the uci” part….

            a) it’s hard to imagine the image of the uci being worse…
            b) how do they square amgen being the primary sponsor of a pretty big race?

  11. Inrng,
    Is there any cycling ‘legacy’ requirement for the host of the World Championships, ala Olympics ?
    Granted that there is no specialist infrastructure required, but is it part of the brief for those bidding ?

    • Not that I’ve heard of. We don’t see the specs but there’s nothing obvious that lasts; after all it’s just closing the roads for a day. A good circuit will live on in the memory, many will associate Mendrisio and cycling for example.

      • JE, just to point out I was thinking more of ‘projects’ rather than ‘stadia’ necessarily.
        Such as school / public initiatives to encourage cycling, or provision of cycle lanes / tracks.
        That type of thing.
        I think that it would be a fitting ‘legacy’ for a host to put in place.

  12. Thanks Inrng,

    It will be interesting to see if the US gets a bit of spinoff as a result of the Worlds in the US.

    Would be nice to see a group of young US neo-pro’s in 5 years become a bigger part of the international peleton! Male and Female, it will have been worth the investment provided by Virginia.

    It is a bit difficult to criticize the winner of the worlds road race as a lesser winner. The tactical dynamics are as we all have discussed are very different with national and trade team politics a part of the equation. All said in MHO it makes for very interesting race with many of the favorites not really participating and just riding to appease a sense of nationalism. This fact, makes it an interesting race for just that reason. Who is really leading out for whom in the last 10K and why…

  13. Incredibly harsh on Freire. 3x Worlds, 3x Milan-Sanremo, Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Tours, a few Brabantse Pijl, Green Jersey at the Tour and stage wins at the Vuelta. As a sprinter what else could he reasonably do?!

  14. Hello Inrng.

    Can I just stick in and take this on a tangent regarding Linda Villumsen’s amazing TT win only for her to be lambasted by everyone regarding her choice of equipment.

    I didn’t know she was riding a Trade Team Time Trial (this was earlier in the week no?).

    This is a no brainer – Linda is there representing New Zealand (costs covered by no doubt) and she is felt that the CNZ equipment suited her needs. Why is Willier/UHC crying given they have the best rider on their books??

    • Don’t assume CNZ paid her trip. Also don’t assume she is a paid professional. Most elite women pay for the privilege of attending elite events, including all of their kit, bikes too. Some get travel reimbursed but, for most, they are not paid to ride at all.

      USA Cycling requires most to pay for their entire trip *plus* the staff USACycling provides.

      The economics for an elite cyclist are generally terrible, except for a few.

      That this woman used a bike that fit for her attempt should be the beginning and end of the article. Why couldn’t the bike sponsor ship a few stickers? This is typical cycling politics.

  15. Initially thought I’d go on a ranting rampage over the slighting of Freire, but it seems to be well covered above. So I’ll focus on the reason Freire’s name was brought up; namely as an example of non-household name world champions devaluating the rainbow jersey.

    Why should the cycling fans want to see our sport “dumbed down” to non-cycling fans, if only to make the sport grow financially? If people don’t want to watch cycling, you don’t attract them by turning cycling into something less cycling-like. And maybe not all sports should aim for world domination…

    • Too much focus on the menton of Freire, the point is that the Worlds needs a selective course that delivers big champions if it wants to be a big seller for the UCI. Readers who come here will appreciate the more subtle aspects of this race and the incredible tension on the last lap but you’d shrug if tennis had a “world championship” tournament that was regularly won by someone ranked 43rd or 37th in the world and where many of the grand slam names didn’t bother taking part. It’s here that the UCI could think about a course every 3-4 years to attract them.

      • If there is a threat to the status of the Worlds, which I’m not convinced there is, I agree that boring parcours might kill interest. I really do not see how there is such a thing as “a boring winner”. Surely, a lowly ranked winner can also be seen as the plucky underdog’s triumph against mighty odds? However, racing lap after lap in a bunch ending in a sprint (looking at/to you, Copenhagen/Quatar) is dull as dust by any standard.

      • Inner ring, you are obsessed with the notion of ‘selling’ cycling. There is only room for a few massive sports that everyone follows and knows inside out. Football/soccer in most places, NFL in the states, rugby in New Zealand, cricket in India and indeed cycling in northern Belgium. You can’t sell something folk aren’t interested in, and many sports have ruined themselves trying (F1 to an extent, Rally definitely). What you can do is make the most of what you have to the people who want to know about it. And, in my opinion, cycling does a very good job of that in its heartland European regions, as well as maintaining interest in the US, Australia and Colombia. Not bad at all, considering the popularity of Football in most of those countries. Be happy with what there is.

        • The sport is obsessed with selling itself, it’s why teams carry corporate names and this week’s racing is the UCI’s biggest source of income. The point above was simply that the UCI needs to protect its assets, nothing radical to change here.

      • Or maybe people should be helped to recognize who the big champions are?
        As I said, here in Spain people *do* appreciate Freire, and I’d say that a lot of people are able to do that, too.

        I’m not suggesting this out of ‘moral’ or ‘theoretical’ or ‘historical’ reasons, it’s just practicality.

        What kind of one-day race would a Froome ever win? – at least, on the basis of what he has shown us until now (he can moult again to an all-around rider?)… Contador? Quintana (well, at least he won a Giro dell’Emilia – speaking of a weird albeit fascinating course)? Among the big names, only Nibali and Valverde would stand a chance. And it wouldn’t be any sort of high-rated option of success, not even engineering a suitable course.
        Recently, the hardest Worlds have been won by Rui Costa and Ballan, besides Freire and Evans (who got his opportunity, his merits apart, since he was *not* a marked man in a mixed groupl including the likes of Cancellara and Kolobnev).

        We’ve got every year kind of a Worlds race suited to GC riders, the Liège. More often than not the Gerrans, Iglinsky, Gilbert or Martin of this World are the best man of the day. Moreover, GC riders who are very good in one-day races aren’t often the very top riders in GTs, since different physiological characteristics are involved and it’s very hard to be gifted with a perfect balance: Valverde, Vinokourov, Di Luca weren’t the very top dogs around GT-wise (Schleck’s victory, besides being rare, was a very peculiar case). And they’re rightly considered better than the sum of their victories because their versatility.

        We should promote all-around champions, through GT courses (it must be said that apparently the Tour and the Giro are working on that), promoting the value of the Monuments for every rider (the Lombardia is often suited to GT riders, this year more than ever), giving more space and importance to GT-riders-suited classics (Milano-Torino, Giro dell’Appennino, Emilia). This is a broad programme the UCI may help to foster, if they consider that all-around big names are a benefit for the sport – as they indeed are.
        Trying to sort out the Worlds to force a big-name victory when the big names themselves lack what is needed (maybe only out of lack of specific experience) will probably fail, nothing else.

        That said… don’t know what will happen in Richmond nor in Bergen, but I feel that we’re having a seven year string 2011-2017 with just a “hard” course for the Worlds, and that’s not enough, a bit like 2001-2007 when the only per-se-selective course was Verona (won by Freire-Zabel-Paolini… even if in the best men group you had Valverde, Cunego, Horner, Schleck, Basso, Rasmussen, Vinokourov, Mancebo!). That is, I find it’s okay to worry about the Worlds’ course – but it’s not because the name of the winners. Or, if you prefer, it’s okay to worry about the split between GT and Classics/Worlds winners – but it’s not because the course of the Worlds.

        • I agree completely. If anything its the big name GC men who are the odd ones out here because of the recent proliferation of mega mountainous grand tours with a million and one uphill finishes and barely the need for a time trial bike. They are the super specialists who can’t bend to a variety of courses and rely on a 2000 metre high mountain pass to win anything. Its just that they specialise in the one race that everyone watches and knows. You think of Gilbert, Kwiatkowski, van Avarmaet, Sagan, Thomas, Stybar, Gallopin, Alaphillipe et al, they can win a flat race, a rolling race, on cobbles, on an uphill sprint, on medium sized mountains and can do well in a time trial. All they can’t do is haul themselves over massive mountain passes. If the World Champion is to decide the best alround rider then they are your men.

          • True but I think that what this article suggests is that even the *superstars* of the respective parcours (this year perhaps think Valverde, Boonen and, to a lesser degree, Sagan and Kristoff for instance) have tended not to be the winners.
            And sometimes in fact these types of guys are either absent, or cooked from previous exertions.
            Which comes back to the timing of the event and the relative prestige of the jersey against other season targets.

      • I wonder how much the lack of participation by GT contenders (which seems to be the issue in question) is down to parcours, and how much is simply down to the position in the season?

        It seems that, in modern cycling, the level of mental and physical sacrifice required to be competetive at the Tour de France is so great that almost no-one does much after that in the season – certainly not the competetive riders. Those who have “failed” at the Tour de France can sometimes have a second peak but in which case, the Vuelta is a safer bet to match up rider characteristics and race characteristics (witness Froome / Contador in 2014). For those riders who have had a successful Tour de France, gearing up for another big objective in late September, 9 or 10 weeks after the end of the Tour, seems a big risk for possibly moderate reward.

        It is noticeable that riders who have had a strong Tour de France also often have a strong Classica San Sebastian, and that race generally seems to benefit from quite a strong field. Bradley Wiggins also demonstrated (in the 2012 Olympics) that it was possible to win the Tour de France, and then win a big event again a week or so later. So I wonder if moving the World Championship to the weekend after the Tour de France might attract a better quality field, capturing the big GT riders before they wind down to a holiday to recharge the batteries? It would also likely mean that the best options for the trade team TTT would be those riders already known to the public from riding the Tour de France, as they would be in form and well drilled together.

        Would that be more productive than tinkering with the course?

        The Classica San Sebastian would have to move, but maybe if it moved to the Autumn, San Sebastian / Paris Tours / Lombardy could be grouped on consecutive weekends, along with Milan-Turin, Giro del Piedmonte etc. to form another mini Autumn Classics season for the specialists to balance up the spring classics season in northern Europe.

        (Obvious technical issues, in what is basically a “thinking aloud” suggestion: (1) Would mean the championships for TTT and the Junior / Under 23 / Women’s TT events would be occurring within a three or four days of the end of the Tour (2) Logistics of a World Championship outside Europe would be challenging (3) the position in the season of the Classica San Sebastian would be compromised, probably to the detriment of that race).


        • Next year, both the Tour of Poland and the Eneco Tour have moved aside to make room for the Olympics, (the Classica San Sebastian just squeezes in ahead of it). Which raises the question of whether the Olympic RR is more likely to have a “star” winner than the Worlds since it went pro?

          1996: Richard
          2000: Ullrich
          2004: Bettini
          2008: Sammy Sanchez
          2012: Vinokourov

          It’s seems a little closer to the GT/LBL-type rider from that small sample size.

        • Top-10 grand tour riders do ride WC and are mostly heavily marked. Italy’s brutal WC a couple of years ago had Uran in the final selection until he crashed out like so many others. Uran rode the ITT on Wednesday.

          Cadel Evans rode the WC and generally rode at the front to win. But, as is the case with road racing, either he was heavily marked, or a poorly timed attack ended his race. As a reminder, every attack is “poorly timed” until the one that works….

  16. I must say there’s a timely symbolism with Inrng’s use of the picture of Michal Kwiatkowski as the World Champion water bottle carrier.
    He will be in good company at Sky next year alongside new TT World Champion Vasil Kiryienka.
    Not a rainbow jersey wearer but, still,I think it does illustrate the article’s point very well.
    A (super) domestique World Champion.
    It could only happen in cycling, couldn’t it ?

    • Thats a very simplistic ‘house wife who only watches the Tour de France every year’ way of looking at things. Kwiatkowski is a class rider and a deserving winner on the course last year. In the Ardennes Classics he’s a major player and indeed won Amstel Gold in the rainbow bands this year. When was the last time a major classic was won by the World Champion? He’d be team leader at all classics, Milan-Sanremo and cobbles included, at every team bar Quick Step probably. On such a good team he isn’t guaranteed team leader, he works for team mates on races deemed better suited to them. Cav was a bottle carrier on mountain stages he had no chance of winning in support of the eventual Tour winner. No shame in that. Indeed the yellow jersey worked for him on the flat, that’s how it should be.

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