Friday Shorts

The One Cycling story is a big one with plans to reform the cycling calendar, bundling up the TV rights of races and making the sport more marketable. It’s a theme we’ve seen before with team managers linking up with private capital to try and reshape the sport… and failing because they were long on financial capital but short on cultural and political capital. There’s so little to go on for now we can only touch on it via this “shorts” blog post.

Reuters was first with the news and the RadioCycling podcast had more detail. The plan seems to be to create a commercial entity to run the sport, including selling the TV rights for the sport as a collective package, and also managing the calendar so it can select which races are part of the project, whether establishing new events in key markets or demoting or cancelling existing events; also to pool some of the teams’ marketing efforts, a bit like Velon does with “exclusive” interviews. It’s a serious project as advisors are on board and it’s been in the works for some time.

It is a response to the teams concerns that the lion’s share of profits from the main cycling races including the Tour de France, La Vuelta and the Giro d’Italia go to their organisers
– Reuters, 25 October 2023

The revenue sharing zombie can’t be killed. This blog’s looked at it before and the short answer is that if even you could somehow persuade ASO to donate much of its profits from the Tour to teams backed by billionaires, multinationals and even nation states it wouldn’t make much difference, a team that loses a key sponsor would still be holed below the waterline (if the slice is too small you can try to grow the pie but that’s a whole other issue). But a ton of money from investors could help teams.

Rights bundling can work. In fact it happens already, broadcast rights holders to the Tour de France get, say, Paris-Nice, and the Tour de France Femmes Zwift as part of the package… but they might only show the Tour live. Clearly the One Cycling Plan would be to have a series of equal events all on TV rather than cherry-picking but you can’t create this at the stroke of a pen… but a ton of money can help broadcasters.

As for calendar reform, some things can make sense and some things like look sensible to outsiders but might not be overlapping races aren’t ruinous, there’s a reason why say Itzulia Basque Country and Paris-Roubaix can coexist. But pooled marketing and a general central resource for races could make sense, but it can be hard to coordinate this across many countries but that’s presumably where the big bucks come in, you guessed it, a ton of money from investors could help organisers.

The UCI itself has tried rights bundling, there was a plan to roll all the UCI Pro Series races (ie those marked 1.Pro and 2.Pro on the calendar) together and sell the rights collectively but all we got was the calendar label as it was too much to pool diverse races, some organisers sell their rights, others pay to have their event broadcast and so on.

We have a week-in, week-out series that everyone is going to be scoring a certain number of points in that series which is going to lead to an overall champion at the end of the year
– Jonathan Vaughters speaking to the Radio Cycling podcast

One alarm bell rang when EF team manager Jonathan Vaughters spoke about rankings driving audiences and interest. Here even a ton of money might be hard to stoke interest although let’s be clear, this doesn’t sound like the central point of One Cycling.

Several team managers are against the One Cycling Plans, whether in public or private plus ASO doesn’t seem interested according to reports. So is the deal pulled, just as the same people behind it aborted the Jumbo-Quickstep deal? It could rumble on, One Cycling ought to be to create a workable package of smaller races supported by some central agency but now we’re into incremental gains rather than revolution and it’s not the cash cow private equity or sovereign wealth investors seek. We’re into Velon territory, bold ambitions but it hasn’t quite worked out as the jointly-owned company is in negative equity according to the last set of accounts and behind with its regulatory filings to boot, not the revenue spinner it was meant to be. As mentioned here before when One Cycling was named in public by Patrick Lefevere, it’s is one to watch.

On to other matters now and if Richard Plugge’s had a rough time of late with the sponsor search, the aborted attempt to takeover/sink Quickstep – pick your verb – and the leak about One Cycling, now comes another cloud. Michael Heßmann’s anti-doping case continues with the report that his B-sample has matched the A-sample. The next step is a hearing. It’s being managed by the Nationale Anti Doping Agentur Deutschland (NADA) in Germany so subject to their rules on disclosure rather than the UCI, which would have named the substance involved, for now we just know it’s a diuretic substance used as masking agent. Unless Heßmann can prove contamination he’ll face a ban.

Staying again with Jumbo-Visma – as they’re still called for now – La Gazetta Dello Sport has gone to town saying Wout van Aert will lead the team in the Giro next year and since they broke the story, they’ve published a second article on it. So they – as in their head of cycling – seem pretty sure, even if the team is yet to communicate on this saying they’ll have more discussions and so on. La Gazzetta is the sister paper of the Giro and usually pretty informed on the start list and the dealings that go on. Skipping the Tour gives Van Aert a fresher run at the Olympics but how to combine the spring classics and the Giro is the harder question even if he can pause after Roubaix for four weeks.

The death of Gino Mäder was a profoundly sad moment in the year for many reasons, each perhaps personal to us all. One follow-up is to note the Swiss newspapers are reporting the criminal investigation into Mäder’s death has been closed. This was conducted to investigate any potential legal matters regarding his crash. Nobody was deemed to be criminally negligent, it’s stated the organisers weren’t to blame, presumably the road wasn’t defective either. Perhaps most importantly Magnus Sheffield who also crashed at the same time is absolved in case anyone worried about a link.

To finish on some more cheerful points… the Saitama criterium is this Sunday. Yes it’s a criterium as in an exhibition race and we get some culture-adjacent photo opportunity activity on Saturday, the race on Sunday. Saitama city itself has a reputation as a dormitory city outside of Tokyo and the course doesn’t do much to alter this perception. But the wider Saitama area has some superb riding with high mountain passes, scenic valleys and more. A criterium is fun but a Tour de Saitama stage race around the prefecture would be a dream.

Dreams do come true, at least for Nairo Quintana. He’s back, having signed a one year deal with Movistar and we’re not talking about a home internet deal either. For the Spanish team you can’t help feel it’s like a child at navidad unwrapping a present, they hoping for the Carlos Rodriguez action robot only to get a used wooden doll of Nairo Quintana instead. But absent Rodriguez, Quintana can give the squad more depth in mountainous stage races. He’d been turning into more and more of a diesel and aged 34 next year it’ll be interesting to see what he and the team aim for especially as one reason for leaving last time was over his treatment in the team and relations with management. Plus the Tramadol case has never been resolved.

Finally talking of Colombian resurrections, the Tour Colombia 2.1 is back. The only race to proudly boast of its UCI status (2 means stage race, .1 is the third tier after World Tour and Pr Series) it is back on the calendar and a bright light for Colombian cycling after some rough years. The race is on the UCI calendar and has got political support and funding so it’s likely to be a season-starter for many pros, Patrick Lefevere suggested Evenepoel could start there, although the race can only invite so many World Tour squads, the field can have up to 50% World Tour teams max.

82 thoughts on “Friday Shorts”

    • And if a load of money does flood into the sport, the great majority of people will forget that they’re not actually interested in cycling at all, can only name one rider and can only name him because he is synonymous with the one ‘fact’ they ‘know’ about the sport.

      Let’s hope this does come to nothing because capitalism doesn’t increase competition, it produces monopolies – because that’s how you make more money.

      And if money is your aim, at best, that is all you will achieve – you won’t achieve better sport. However, many people are so propagandised by the wealthy and powerful who control the media they receive that they accept money=good as an absolute fact.

      • Cycling already looks very capitalistic with a wealthy family owning the prize asset, other wealthy people from aristocrats to media tycoons owning other events, all while teams take corporate names or are playthings for billionaires. It’s not some mutually owned cooperative to start with to put it mildly.

        And yet… probably because nobody is getting that rich off the back of it – few rents are extracted, billionaires tend to end up poorer – it’s accepted as a popular sport, you can see the races for free on public TV or by the roadside. Trying to turn this aspect into a private commodity is the hard part for those coming in with finance looking for a return, and one reason previous breakaway attempts have failed on launch is they’re long on financial capital but short on cultural and social capital.

        • Just as you often remember everybody (and rightly so) about the capitalistic side of the sport, since its very beginning as a way to sell more newspapers, we should also take into account the very relevant share of public money which, directly or not, flows through cycling because of its aspects of “public interest”, or just because… it works like that (e.g. not only the “playgrounds”, but even more crucially training infrastructure – despite Wahoo and Zwift – are still mainly public roads). Add to that public broadcasting being paramount to get good viewing figures, the role of public institutions in the management and promotion of the general tourism business, direct public sponsorships and so on, and on.
          Many sports in Europe (and probably beyond, but I’m more aware about my local context) are based on public money much much more than they like to presume, starting obviously with football, but cycling is especially intertwined with public powers, organisation, money, space, institutions etc.

    • The only way such a thing is long term successful is for it to make a profit or at a minimum money neutral. Any project that relies on large injections of cash each year may eventually fall over when the donor has a change of mind.

  1. “However, many people are so propagandised by the wealthy and powerful who control the media they receive that they accept money=good as an absolute fact.”
    +1 F–k Jonathon Vaughters! This fellow’s fever-dream is somehow to cash-in on his long-term investment in his team, one way or another. Sport is worthless, it’s all about the $$.

    • Yes some team managers are “talking their own book” but at least JV engages, he’ll give his point of view when the management and owners of other teams don’t say anything… so he gets roasted while others who probably (read certainly) agitate more behind the scenes don’t get the flame-thrower treatment.

  2. Replying to Inner Ring:

    True, but with the race organisers – specifically the big three (RCS, Flanders Classics, ASO) – being the powerful entities in the sport, it means that the traditional races are protected as is, by and large, the quality of those races.

    On the other hand, as you say, these new entities are likely to want to indulge in ‘establishing new events in key markets or demoting or cancelling existing events’.

    If you’re a fan of cycling, do you want to see the Tour of the Basque Country die a slow death, while you’re forced to watch the Tour of Saudi Arabia?

    And the big problem is that the likes of Saudi Arabia don’t need to make this profitable – any expenses to them will be negligible – they just need to decide that they want to do it.

    As cycling fans, all we can do is refuse to watch these sorts of events – hence I don’t watch the Velon race (I think it was in the Netherlands – I don’t even know if it’s still going) or anything else they’re involved with, and I don’t watch the low-quality races in the various countries that have no interest in cycling and, usually, poor parcours.

    Of course, we’re told that this is about ‘making the sport global’ and told that we’re selfish if we ‘try to keep the sport from other countries. But you have to ask yourself is it actually a good idea to take a sport away from the countries who actually enjoy it in order to put it into countries who don’t care.

    I wonder if there are people online in Malaysia and Indonesia worrying about why the Italians and Belgians aren’t interested in badminton.

    Very probably not as the notion that we must spread our ideas and even things we enjoy around the world is very much only a part of white culture. (Saudi Arabia is only interested in sports-washing its image.)

    • I don’t really understand your boycott of the Velon? You don’t like the Netherlands? Or just new races? I assume you don’t watch Strade Bianchi and all that new fangled gravel then?

      • I hate Velon too. They seemed to be formed to get their greedy mitts on all the money they think ASO rakes in…the rest of it is just excuses, crackpot ideas, wobbly on-bike video, etc.
        BTW it’s Strade Bianche though I think Bianchi (the bike company) was a sponsor of what used to be called Strade Bianche Eroica Pro at one time. RCS now bills it as “The Northern Classic in the South of Europe”

          • I think I can see, left to right, Simon Gerrans, Rafał Majka, Zico Waeytens (who is a boxer now), Adam Yates, Peter Sagan, Koen de Kort, Chris Froome, Sam Dumoulin, Mikaël Cherel, Alexis Vuillermoz, Petr Vakoč and half of Julien Vermote. They have wooden hammers to pound rice to make the “mochi” sticky rice balls.

            This year’s activity was drawing. I think one of the major cycling news websites had a gallery of the photos but they missed out the most important one: the star riders on stage with Wateru Watanabe. He is a manga (comic book) artist and has produced Yowamushi Pedal which is a series about cycling, there’s even a film, basically the story of a weakling (a “yowamushi”) who finds friends and happiness through bike racing. It’s sold 30 million copies, there are few books in the history of publishing that have achieved sales like this. Plus it’s said to have inspired a lot of new people into cycling in Japan, particularly women. Watanabe is also a big cycling fan and rides his bike every day, as someone who has shifted millions of books surely can.

  3. The Nairo Quintana thing has puzzled me a bit. Considering that many teams have hired at some point a rider who had a doping violation and Nairo Quintana didn’t even have that and had served his 3 month ban. I thought maybe he had been blacklisted for some rumour we don’t know. Perhaps he just wanted so much it was above his market rate.

    As a side note i feel in general that once a ban has been served in full that the person should be okay to participate otherwise just change the rules and make them all life bans.
    Of course if the rider has such a rep that the teams all assume they will continue to cheat than a new job would not be forthcoming.

    • There’s whispers of some blacklist but it could be more practical: Quintana and his agent tried to take the UCI to court over their Tramadol testing so it was always risky for a team to hire him knowing this litigation was ongoing and by the time the CAS threw out his case about this time last year teams were done hiring.

      As you say it’s rules that once a ban is served people can come back. In actual anti-doping cases this is harder now as the standard ban is 4 years while in the past it was 2 years meaning by the time the case took six months to be resolved there might be not much more a season missed; 4 years is much longer to wait. But this wasn’t even a doping case and Quintana could have even ridden the Vuelta in 2022 and “only” lost his Tour results but he had a bust up with the Arkéa team, they’d offered him a contract and he’d said yes but hadn’t signed the copy and then the tramadol case came. In the meantime he’s been training in Colombia and Andorra.

      The awkward point for his comeback is he or anyone else hasn’t got much of an explanation of how the Tramadol got there, there’s still a mystery/explaining required.

      There’s also the ongoing case of Alex Baudin from the Giro, also disqualified following a tramadol test and again saying he didn’t know where it came from.

      • Here it is (excerpt):

        El ciclista de Boyacá ha pasado 12 meses vetado por el gran ciclismo, víctima de un acuerdo tácito de equipos y organizadores, apremiados privadamente por el presidente de la Unión Ciclista Internacional (UCI), David Lappartient. Los equipos del WorldTour acordaron no contratarlo. Los de segunda división que se acercaron a él mostrándole su interés recibieron una advertencia: si lo ficháis olvidaros de correr Giro, Tour o Vuelta.

  4. Re: Tramadol, WADA were doing in-race testing with a different method to the UCI’s and came up with whole bunch more of positives so it seems using Tramadol is/was still happening in the peloton.

    Re: OneCycling was there not some uproar by some teams against the whole project idea? If the Saudis had not been beaten to the cycling team sponsor route of UAE, would they have gone there instead? A team “Saudi Arabia” would now be left chasing riders who could win the big races.

    Good news about the tour of Colombia coming back – what about California? Is there money for that?

    • IMHO you’re missing the fantasy part. The fever-dream of petro-sheiks taking over ASO the way Liv golf cut the cojones off the PGA. I’m hoping the “adults in the room” at ASO see this for what it is…all about money and not much about sport and tell ’em NFW!

      • I follow golf even more closely than cycling, and I wouldn’t say Jason Kokrak or whatever Majesticks whatnots is cutting the cojones off the PGA (Tour), when shooting 82 at some resort with 1200 people watching on the CW app. But I’m sure the PIF is super happy what they’re achieving… And the framework agreement wasn’t even serious from the get go.

        Please stick to cycling here, at least if the replies are uniformed and irrelevant.

        • Sorry EK, I know about golf only what I see on the news where it seems petro-sheiks started their own rival league (LIV) and the PGA (like ASO?) resisted, banning the players from their events until money ruled and some sort of agreement was reached.
          Is that incorrect? If it’s even half-right I can’t help but think the petro-sheik cycling goals would be similar. Seems the same thing’s going on with football with players seeing massive checks made out to them for playing in a Saudi league…and wasn’t there a scheme recently to create some sort of “super-league” in that sport too?
          Feel free to correct me if this is all somehow fake news.

    • How much can they determine from a guy who is dead? Should Sheffield be able to describe what happened other than to say the guy missed the turn and went off the road..for some reason?
      People like me can wonder if he was looking at his electronic gizmo (perhaps depending on it to show him the turns, etc. as has been described by other racers) instead of WTF he was actually going…but it’s just speculation. Only riders in the peloton know how much (if) this goes on…and maybe they learn a lesson from it? RIP Mader.

    • I did manage to find a photo highlighting the tyre marks where both riders left the road. My first guess would be that they both overcooked it on a section where the danger is not obvious.

      • As a thought, I wonder if the accident was caused by Mäder trying to get gels or something out of his back pocket? The recent report about riders needing to eat crazy amounts of carbs might have the effect of making descending more dangerous as they’re also trying to eat and drink more at the same time. I know this has been a standard practice, but shorter stages, more carbs, and more stress is not a good combination. (also van Hooydonck comment about, “While we used to ride two hours on the limit, it is now three hours. In sometimes grueling circumstances, that is not healthy,”)

        • Your quote re: Van Hooydonck is a point that I don’t think gets made enough: this sport that most of us do for our health is getting less healthy at the highest level. The “carb revolution “ seems like a bad thing to me, but hey, I’m no doctor.

      • I would say that an independent (judicial if possible) assessment on the effects of disc-brakes on high-speed descents is ethically unavoidable. Effects on bike behaviour and rider behaviour. It must be examined thoroughly, as the braking system is the first mechanical element to examine in such a tragic accident. Sheffield’s testimony would be precious, only his being a professional on the industry’s payroll undermines his credibility about it. He will only be credible if he blames the material.

        • Easy guys, your starting position – Larry, the GPS / Ferdi, the disc brakes – come across as literal prejudice, that your personal view ought to be the starting point. Only we don’t know and the comments section of a cycling blog aren’t the right place, unless you have some unique insight to share rather than a hunch.

          In this instance it’s just that the local prosecutor has decided there’s no criminal investigation to pursue.

          • I won’t say what your “coming across” interpretations come across as. I think the coroner/judicial expert should try to estimate the speed at which Gino entered that corner, and compare it to the speed at which others (because of available GPS data) entered it, and make an informed opinion of whether it was a case of braking too late, too hard, or not. Which is (I don’t think there’s anything crazy in putting this forward) one of the main possibilities.

          • As far as I can see, it was just about seeing if anyone else was negligent or broke the law, it’s not an investigation into Mäder himself. But someone else might know the Swiss federal law or the canton law better.

          • I also don’t know hat all the speculation of possible causes benefits anything.
            Riders overcooking turns in a descent very often, most times it’s not as hard as it might look like. Other times you’re just unlucky and your head ends on a wrong spot. And there’s no helmet to safe you 100% from such bad luck.

        • I th0ught all the “experts” had weighed in…that’s why the investigation is closed? I’ve known a few “technical experts” in the judicial side of crash investigations which makes me doubt very much anything good would come out of that.
          Dunno where you’re going with “the effects of disc-brakes on high-speed descents”? Are you claiming that somehow the presence of a disc and hydro caliper vs a mechanical clamping device that squeezes the side of the rim is somehow to blame?
          Racers have “overcooked” turns and crashed as long as there have been bike races with turns in them. Unless examination of Mader’s bicycle revealed some failure (blown-up caliper/master cylinder, failure of hose connections/hose) of the braking system I dunno what you’re getting at or what could/should be done. Forgive me if this comes across as mean or dismissive, but I really would like to understand what you mean.
          RIP Mader

  5. The only hope for cycling then, if it isn’t to turn into just another money spinner for ‘private equity’ or another arm of Saudi Arabias ongoing project to take over the entire world, is that the ASO/Tour de France stays out of it. Whatever they do if the Tour isn’t part of it will be a fairly meaningless sideshow and will fail.

    • That’s why I call ASO/Tour de France “The only adults in the room” so often. Their financial situation would seem to make them immune to takeover in a way that RCS/Giro d’Italia’s doesn’t.
      It’s anyone’s guess as to which way Flanders Classics would go, but of course I hope they’d stay with ASO.
      IMHO one thing discouraging a sell-out is that golf or football don’t have FRANCE, ITALY or FLANDERS in their names, so maybe they’re easier to sell-out vs things so tightly tied to a country/place as those iconic cycling events. We can hope, right?

  6. Small scale, but this is how it starts; I’m organising two days of racing and probably the only people who will make money are the photographers that sell images back to the riders. These people expect me to help them with course plans and transport help, yet they soon whelp when I start to ask them for a contribution to the costs of putting on the event.

    Should I form an LLC and securitise my regional cyclocross events for foreign investors?

  7. The UCI are the governing body, they really should have little involvement with the running of the World Tour…..apart from the enforcement of rules/regs, etc

    For example, neither motorsports governing bodies (FIA, FIM) run their big series – they are run by companies who decide the calendar, sell rights, etc You want a race in the World championship – fine, that will cost you £$£$£$….

    UCI need to put the World Tour out to tender, and ONE company runs it; organises, promotes it, decides where and when races are held.
    The MTB World Cup has seen this happen this season; ESO/Discovery/WB now run the series; organise, promote, etc Flanders Classics do the same for the CX World Cup….with the same model; you pay a hosting fee for a race.

    However, it might work in theory, it probably can’t in real life…..but the status quo can’t remain.
    No serious sport has two of its top teams looking to merge/takeover….especially one which has won all 3 GTs, and the last 2 Tours…..

    • It’s not unusual for a governing body to be involved in running a competition, though: World Cups in most sports – including the biggest sporting event in the world, Olympics, UEFA’s Champions League…

    • ‘You want a race in the World championship – fine, that will cost you £$£$£$….’

      What makes you think anyone will pay that? It costs a lot to put a closed road bike race on in normal countries. So the existing bike races that we all like in all likelihood won’t be in a position to pay some F1 style exorbitant hosting fee. So your races will be in China, the oil rich Arab states, Azerbaijan etc etc. All places where we have seen incredibly tedious, featureless, atmosphereless bike races. There are some things you can’t buy. The promotor, the riders and the teams will be making a massive shat load of money. But we won’t. And we’ll lose the existing structure of the sport we love. So you’d have to question why anybody outside of those 3 parties and the lunatic hosting companies would support such a thing on any level.
      If Jumbo Visma go under i’d struggle to care less to be honest. In fact I might even be for it. Their group of very talented riders would be spread amongst the existing peloton and competition would in most likely be increased. No skin off my nose.

    • The UCI doesn’t do too much in the World Tour… but it is instead spread across lots of others. You can have one company in charge but they’d have to accommodate ASO, RCS, Flanders Classics and all the rest. Which is going to be a challenge to put it mildly.

      One Cycling seems to want to roll up as many race organisers as possible but they need the big names onside. They can try to create new events but as Richard S points out, it’s not easy imposing new races in places just because you have the money, we see events today that are there just because of money rather than genuine local support and it shows. By contrast you can probably hold, say, an F1 GP without the same need for authenticity.

      But it was the UCI that read out the rulebook not long ago and iced the takeover deal. Cause and effect might be uncertain but just saying the rules out loud can be powerful at times too.

      • Not just CX WC, FLCS do a few Belgian classics too – Omloop Het Niewsblad, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, and the Belgian monument too – de Ronde van Vlaanderen. Plus more.

        They seem to do well. I don’t know exactly how their income sources divide out, but they seem to do a good job of generating revenue from hospitality tents at big events.

        The CX WC format is actually really good, in many ways, for cycling. You have a closed course. The organiser can charge admission, and generate further revenue from mass hospitality and VIP tents. The fans get to see a number of races over the course of a morning and early afternoon – and they get to see the riders 5 to 7 pass times each race and cheer them. Plus watch, even interact, with riders doing recces in between races.

        It’s a really really really good format all round – for the commercial interests and the fans. And it could help to (re)?build a healthy base for other cycling.

        E.g., in the UK a lot of grassroots road races are struggling, cause it’s getting hard to get permits and tick off all the other boxes to hold road races.

        • “It’s a really really really good format all round – for the commercial interests and the fans. And it could help to (re)?build a healthy base for other cycling.”
          No argument with the first part but HTF is that gonna help races that don’t go round-and-round beer tents all day?

          • If nothing else, these events can help build up a healthy, mass fan-base for cycling.

            Look at Belgium, CX races attract a very wide attendance – most of whom are not bike nerds. It’s an afternoon out. Meet your friends, have some beer, eat some patat – see some semi-famous sports people that are on the telly sometimes (ok, in Belgian, uber-famous and on the telly all the time).

            Now, how can it help other races? Well, as I said, FLCS apply the hospitality model to their road races too. The race doesn’t have to go round the beer tent again and again.

            If you build up enough of a *mass* fan base, you’ll sell tickets for your VIP beer tent, located in a field at a strategic hill on your race, anyway. People will drink and chat, and have a look out of the window for the 10 minutes odd as the race passes, and go back to drinking and chatting. When you get stable sources of income for your race, you can then use that to develop other aspects.

            Just attracting more people – from a wider, mass audience – to attend your races will make the sponsor rights more attractive, and the TV rights too. More people at the races, more people talking about it over the office cooler.

            A lot of people – who are not sports – still like chatting about sports. The exact sport doesn’t matter, only that it is popular enough to be a shared reference.

            Cycling needs to recapture the *mass* audience it once had. Everything else will flow from that.

          • “If nothing else, these events can help build up a healthy, mass fan-base for cycling.”
            Or fan-base for drinking beer and eating sausages?
            I’m probably in the minority here but I’m NOT one of the pro cycling cheerleaders who wants to make it a mainstream sport…one complete with hooligans, ultras, idiots in costumes, morons with “Greetings Grandma” signs and the like. Some of that stuff back-in-the-day wasn’t so great, even when viewed with rose-colored glasses – riders being pushed up climbs, tacks in the road, etc, and it’s not so great now either.

        • I don’t know if putting fences for the people who didn’t pay not to see the race, and killing other existing smaller races like the old-fashionned Driedaagse van Vlanderen because you want its spot on the calendar is really making the cycling “do well”.

  8. “.but the status quo can’t remain.”
    Forgot to ask why not? Because JV and Co want to cash-in somehow? Pro cycling teams have gone on pretty much since pro cycling began with non-cycling sponsors coming in
    The fact that the team winning all three GT’s can’t find a sponsor is whose fault…the structure of cycling or perhaps how it’s (they are) viewed by potential sponsors? IMHO it’s more of the latter than the former.

    • The “win all three grand tours but can’t find a sponsor” thing’s been touched on here before, again it’s probably not as simple as companies looking at these results and rushing in for a piece of the action, it’s more that it takes months if not years to get a sponsor on board and so the recent Vuelta result won’t sway things; plus if a sponsor were to be interested all of a sudden, they will ask if they can expect to repeat this feat in 2024… almost certainly not. It’s complicated.

      It’s probably the topic for another blog post but increasingly a team’s big signing ought to be someone who can’t ride a bike but instead has many of their home nation’s corporate boardrooms on speed dial and first name terms, some sort of agent on a big sponsorship retainer can be as valuable as a top sprinter or climber.

  9. IMHO – I have no real idea why few companies want their name on the jersey of the former Rabobank squad, but I have a hard time blaming it on the lack of a super-league dominated by plutocrat or petro-sheik owners. Perhaps Richard S has hit on something?

    • “Now all I want for Christmas is the Tour of California”
      I share your dream & wish, but Calif is a horrible place to do business or run an enterprise. Very high costs, onerous nanny-state regulations controlling nearly every aspect of everyday life, multiple state bureaucracies demanding permits and fees, etc.
      Several, very nice, amateur road races in So Calif have disappeared in recent years. Too difficult and too expensive to organize them.

      • Sure, blame it on CA liberals! It’s as good an excuse as any for a race dreamed-up in the first place by people who thought they’d make it big, sell-out and cash-in. Reminds me of Tour de Trump, remember that? DuPont bankrolled it after Don-the-Con bailed and then… but CA had nothing to do with it.
        But somehow here in Italy, where lawyers per capita are only exceeded by the USA I think and regulations/bureaucracy rival any in the world, they manage to put on a lot of races including the one where the leader wears that pink shirt.
        IMHO it’s more culture (California’s the place where only the poor go anywhere in/on anything other than a private car after all) than anything one can blame on CA “being a horrible place to do business or run an enterprise.”

    • Riccardo – you COULD just scroll down you know? But get enough commenters here (who are not Anon Y. Mous) who’ll write they want me “voted off the island” and I’m gone…we can even ask Mr. INRNG to block me just-in-case I change my mind and choose to annoy you again 🙂
      PS- I find it telling that you don’t want comments like TomH’s blocked – just my response to it. It’s like everyone wants an “open forum” as long as everyone shares their viewpoint, but when someone doesn’t they scream for them to be kicked out.

      • I’ve never knowingly read a ‘TomH’ comment. Yours are often so many and so manic in the delivery that they just crowd out everything else BTL. Same old hackneyed phrases over and over. ‘Big Tex’, ‘Adults In The Room’… You hate this, you hate that. So authoritative. It all just reads as if it’s in ALL CAPS all the time (to my eyes, at least).

        I’m not asking anyone to ban anything. Just for a filter option.

        Anyway. Arguing on the internet and all that. I’ll go back to simply reading the output.

        Thanks INRNG for what’s easily the best cycling blog.

        • Sorry, I guess your “filter option” should just be scrolling past whatever I post without reading it since I hate so many things and overuse certain terms. I can do the same with yours 🙂

  10. Interesting post but don’t you mean the other ideas were SHORT of financial capital. They were always underfunded, based on very poor financial projections and never gained traction. They were long on poorly planned business plans.

    Velon was a particularly poor plan. Some of the things Vaughter is doing now are interesting but I know he is still struggling to make his model work without a generous, deep pocketed patron.

    • Velon could have been a cartel for the teams but that hasn’t worked and it’s just ended up making revenue from crash video reels and near meaningless power data and the accounts say it’s only a going concern if the shareholders (ie teams) are able to supply funding and don’t call in the loans they’ve made.

      The long on financial capital is because private equity like CVC or investment banks were interested, the debt capital to buy the sport was there. Only the people behind this didn’t seem to understand the structures of the sport, didn’t get the political and cultural aspects. Alex Duff’s book “Le Fric” covers this well in one of the chapters.

  11. The ONE sounds ridiculous.

    First of all, the only financially successful aspects of this sport are ASO, a few other race organizers and some bike manufacturers. If this plan doesn’t have ALL of them onboard it won’t fly. If the leader of this plan doesn’t have at the very least the ASO fully locked in, then why is this idea being floated.

    Very poor execution to openly discuss this without the one absolutely essential body (the ASO). Plus, in order to lock this down the plan must absolutely (and realistically) raise the future earnings of the ASO, not propose to take their earnings and split it more. Also, the ASO does not make that much. As a whole this sport is not super successful so these grandiose plans always forget that fact.

    Thanks for the summary Inrng. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  12. @ Larry T. You and I don’t agree on almost anything, but your right to be wrong on most things should be defended! Contrary views are always good for thought process development.
    Stick with it Larry. Don’t let others chase you off the blog. Some of us enjoy reading your views and alternative take on the Pro cycling scene.

    • BC “… but your right to be wrong on most things should be defended! Contrary views are always good for thought process development.”
      Thanks! I have no issues being in the minority or a contrarian or wrong (not that this is news to anyone) but it’s pretty easy to just scroll past those opinions you don’t want to bother with.
      There was a guy here years ago that I finally gave up arguing with and eventually just scrolled past any post with his name on it.
      But I will admit that one person’s “snarky” can be someone else’ “nasty” or “mean” so I try to keep a lid on that.

  13. I’m with you, BC. The cancel culture mavens don’t speak for me. I can disagree with what someone writes without going in a huff about it. And I can argue with it or ignore it. – J Evans (who cannot get a comment to post under his own name for some reason).

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