The procycling model is broken… I hear that statement on podcasts and read it in articles continually.
But is it?
The fact that our sports has carried on for over a century, most of that with sponsored trade teams, and continued to provide value and exposure for sponsors whilst remaining free to fans is something that should be admired.
In these times, I am not sure I even know what a “stable funding model” is. But not many teams and organisations in any sort of sport will have it. ,
Budgets are clearly going to be cut and sponsors that remain will have their finance departments casting an ever more critical eye over that key “return on investment” calculation to make sure that for every £1 spent, more than that can be attributed to incoming revenues.
There are a couple of teams at cyclings World Tour level with changes in the offing.
Mitchelton-Scott have been looking for a main sponsor for quite some time and have recently announced a link up with Manuela Fundacion. Its not been without drama and controversy with both the new sponsors and existing CEO claiming they are the teams owners.
But this does show that in Europe there is still a desire to back the sport.
CCC have an altogether more pressing situation with their sponsor being in the retail sector and being hit hard by the lockdown. They are now getting out of their deal a year early leaving the team with a big gap to fill.
There are hopeful noises coming out of the CCC Camp with a number of names linked and their main man confident something will be announced ahead of the Tour de France. Let’s hope so as I still want to see a Van Avermaet/Trentin classics combination in full effect.
There could be more changes ahead or some tweaks to jersey’s as the pandemic carries on. In the meantime we are edging nearer actually seeing some of the 2020 teams in action and we must hang on to that positive in these wretched times.
There has been confirmation from a fair few sources the the CCC mens pro team is definitely without a sponsor from the end of the season.
It’s riders are currently on 50% of their full salaries and a number of team staff have been laid off.
There are conflicting reports on the fate of the womens team as it appears their deal has been negotiated separately.
The likes of Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin will have plenty of suitors if no new sponsor is found and the teams contracts all end. But there will be some riders deeper down their roster who might find its the end of their career.
Giant Bicycles are reported to be staying on and they have been title sponsor of a team before so maybe there is still hope.
I fear that if the teams ownership were going to have to look into the corporate market for a brand to take on the lead sponsor position now, they would likely be unsuccessful.
One other point of note surrounds a team no-one would have thought might have sponsorship issues, that being Team Ineos.
The piece about their owner asking the UK government for support for one arm of the business has been latched on by Cyclingnews who, in my view, don’t always report with objectivity about that particular team. So I am going to bear that in mind when judging the story.
What is clear and key, is that cycling needs a resolution to the pandemic as much as any individual business or sport.
As Sunday afternoon viewing goes it was an interesting experiment seeing the RVV Lockdown edition.
The “race” followed the classic last hour of the race route that is used on a number of platforms. I have ridden it on Tacx and even my best effort shipped over 13 minutes to the lead rider yesterday!
I am blaming the resistance on my trainer being higher than the pros… maybe.
The Lockdown version of RVV was run on BKool for reference.
The event had a bit of technical difficulty getting off the line and there was a virtual rider from the organisers who was left on the start line and was just sat there throughout.
The first climb of the day saw Remco Evenepoel break away before hitting the main road to Oudenaarde at the top. As with the real thing the riders then turn left before getting back towards the main road to the Oude Kwaremont.
There is a nasty little road climb here through a forest and I remember struggling up it when I rode out there. In fact it was one of the points that Niki Terpstra put the hammer down in his Ronde winning ride, so there is a strategic element to its positioning.
Evenepoel faded here and was joined and then passed by Greg Van Avermaet, Nicholas Roche, Thomas De Gendt and Oliver Naessen.
Alberto Bettiol was part of this group before getting dropped on the lower slopes of the Kwaremont.
The group stayed clear on the climb and the resulting main road drag before heading off down to the Paterberg.
GvA got clear on the climb and was able to ride a’la Sagan and Bettiol on the flat and fast run in to the finish.
I have to say it was interesting in a strange sort of way despite some glitches in the graphics and the roadside not being wholly accurate of the Flemish countryside I wanted to see who won.
Its a worthy winner as well in Van Avermaet. I hope that he goes on to win a ‘real’ one before his career is over and that his CCC team survive their current plight.
Just a few words from the 100th Tour of Flanders.
What a race it was. There was action more or less from the start and in Peter Sagan and Lizzie Armistead we had worthy winners and world champions for both events.
The course is cruel and demanding, shown especially in the way that the legs of Sep Vanmarcke folded beneath him on the last possible metres of the Paterberg.
It was there he lost the race.
What a classy touch by Sep, though, to let Fabian Cancellara cross the line alone on his final appearance in the race. Let’s hope that’s a favour that can be repaid somewhere along the roads this season as Vanmarcke is long overdue a big win.
One negative element was the crashes which didn’t seem more prevalent than usual, just more severe. Greg Van Avermaert and Tom Boonen denied starring roles by falls a long way out.
We move on to Paris Roubaix this weekend and the podcast tomorrow will preview that in more depth along with a bit more on the Tour of Flanders.