The accounts are out for the Critérium du Dauphiné. Breaking down the revenue sources and costs for a World Tour stage race would be a fascinating exercise but it’s commercially confidential for starters and the accounts for the Dauphiné are so economic on detail that there’s no chance of writing much about them. All we know is the race budget is around €2 million and for 2014 the race generated a profit €46,383, down from €64,734 the previous year.
We don’t know if the accounts are true to the race itself, that they represent the full turnover and net profit of the race for ASO, it could be some revenue and costs are channelled via other corporate entities within ASO. But if they are reflective of the race’s financial situation it’s another reminder of how the top races aren’t money spinners.
World Tour: The Dauphiné was where things finally clicked for MTN-Qhubeka, their sprinter-heavy format had largely been a failure until Daniel Teklehaimanot took off on a stage and racked up points for the mountains jersey, earning him a start in the Tour de France and that opening week polka dot triumph. Dimension Data line up an extra sponsor for 2016 and everything points to the team joining the World Tour. They’re recruited extra riders and yesterday announced the arrival of Roger Hammond as a new manager. Do they need to be in the World Tour? No but it brings some extra certainty and sponsors like DiData will take satisfaction from backing a prime team rather than a second division one.
As mentioned before the danger is the team loses the “underdog” label and the message of growth and hope. They have traded on the “Africa rising” aspect but obviously they’re increasingly corporate. The new sponsor announced yesterday, Sapinda, isn’t exactly a fairtrade coffee initiative, they’re a sharp-elbowed investment fund run out of the Netherlands. On top of this the team is dropping its links with the UCI’s African cycling base.
From perceptive subtleties to grim realities and a small note on those Eritrean fans. It’s great to see support for the likes of Teklehaimanot and the national pride. However Eritrea is a dire place, the kind that sits alongside North Korea, Turkmenistan and Syria and others in the gruppetto of pariah states when it comes to human rights, press freedom and other rankings. Cycling could be something to cheer but it is also something exploited by the dictatorship, dodgy regimes use sporting success for their own ends. During the Tour cinemas were requisitioned to show the Tour de France, the kind of repression those resorting to furtive streams to watch a race could get behind. Every time I see an Eritrean rider posing with a smiling ambassador or government official I can’t help wondering if it’s an obligation in case their family suffers reprisals. Are Eritrean fans on the startline of a race are refugees celebrating someone who’s succeeded in their flight from the country; are they goons bussed in by the embassy to wave the flag; or just sports fans like many others?
Talking of dodgy dealings Aaron Brown has resurfaced in Spain after vanishing with the Kimmage Fund money. As you’ll remember many cycling fans donated money to help Irish journalist defend a libel case brought against him the UCI only for a large proportion of the money to vanish with Brown. Now using the alias of Timmer Brown he’s promoting Catalonian wines. We’ll probably never see the money back and donors can only *chuckle* about that but there’s a serious concern for people in Spain and beyond who need to be cautious especially if Brown is running low on money.
Finally Lloyd Mondory’s reasoned decision is on the UCI website (PDF) but only in French for now. In summary he was busted for EPO and the document details how he claimed the EPO was naturally generated but didn’t supply any proof to support this. He claimed the positive test was an error but turned down the chance to test the B-sample, in fact he dodged a lot of efforts by the UCI to contact him over the case to arrange the B-sample test with dates and deadlines regularly ignored until finally the UCI told him they’d prosecute regardless. All this goes a long way to explaining why the case took so long before the UCI’s Anti-Doping Tribunal could hear the case.