Livin' the Dream

Livin' the Dream

About Me

I am a sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, majoring in journalism. My passion is cycling. I am a category 4 bike racer and my absolute dream would be to turn pro one day. My more realistic goal is to become a journalist for the sport of cycling and eventually move on to become a broadcaster for the sport.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Analysis: Professional Cycling Changing Part 2

This is the second installment of a two part series focusing on how professional cycling is changing and moving into the 21st century.           

            Investing in a professional cycling team is not a profitable endeavor. In an effort to do something about this, during the Tour de France in 2013 many of the World Tour teams got together and created a group called Project Avignon. This project has now morphed into Velon and is made up of 11 teams, all from the World Tour level. According to Velon’s website their goal is to “create a new economic future for the sport and bring fans closer to the riders, races, and teams – by working together and in partnership with others.” In essence, Velon’s goal is to make the teams profitable so that cycling will have a stable foundation and make the sport more popular. In this day and age money drives everything. Cycling is finally moving into the 21st century and realizing that a sponsorship driven basis is not a solid foundation for running a team. Every year it seems there is a question on whether the World Tour will have a complete 18-team field, this year it will not. Velon is good for cycling and cycling needs Velon.

Becoming Profitable

            Cycling is a sponsor driven sport because it is very marketable. Companies get to see their brand names and logos on television for hours on end and broadcasted around the world. It has come to the point though that sponsorship dollars are not enough to run a top tier team and the owners of the teams want to make money. One of Velon’s goals is to get race organizers to begin sharing revenue they make from their TV rights. Currently, the teams get little to nothing to provide the “entertainment” that makes race organizers lots of money. In fact, organizers can make tens of millions of dollars from the TV rights from a single race, as is the case with the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), which owns and operates the Tour de France. Currently these organizers are very unwilling to give up their precious revenue, but the two sides are in talks, which is a step in the right direction.

More Entertaining

            Cycling is a unique sport in that it costs nothing for a person to go out and watch a race in person. To top it off you can meet the greats with out having a coveted VIP Pass. From a television standpoint, viewers consider cycling to be “boring”. The flat stages, where virtually nothing occurs until the last 10 kilometers, struggle to gain viewers. The mountain stages are more exciting, but even there the drama doesn’t begin until the final climb. From a professional cycling enthusiasts point of view there is a lot more that goes on. But the cycling industry is trying to attract new fans, not just the click of cycling enthusiasts they have, and to do that the sport needs to become more exciting. The plans in the works are to create and show more interesting graphics showing a riders heart rate and power output, and shortening stages to create “better” racing. However, the biggest leap cycling is making to become more entertaining is through the use of on-board cameras, just like in Formula 1. The cameras were tested out in select races this year with the footage edited and uploaded a couple of days later. The results were fantastic. The on-board cameras became a huge hit. The plan is to eventually use the on-board cameras during live in-race coverage. Furthermore, a big company in the small camera business, GoPro, is in talks with teams about using their cameras. Currently though, Shimano has a deal with Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to use their cameras. The on-board cameras will be able to create a new fresh look to bike racing. It will actually bring the viewer into the peloton and have the viewers experience the excitement and tension the riders are feeling during the most dramatic points of a race.

            Velon is the answer to how professional cycling can move into the 21st century—that is, by working to make owning a professional cycling team a profitable endeavor in order to attract more people to create teams and therefore, grow the sport. Velon is also working to make cycling more exciting and entertaining to the viewers watching at home on their screens. Dramatic changes are coming to how the sport of cycling looks and how a professional cycling team is owned, and the future looks bright.

1 comment :

  1. Someone is making a killing off of TV contracts.. the teams see almost none of that.

    Why is the IOC so involved in a professional sport anyway?