Mixed reactions to Velon business project

Bernaudeau critical, Vegni supportive

The announcement of the Velon business project by 11 of the leading WorldTour teams has sparked lots of reaction, both critical and supportive, on social media and within the sport.

While the 11 teams all sent out near identical press releases with bland comments from team manager and riders, Jean-René Bernaudeau, the team manager of Europcar, was very skeptical, according to L'Équipe.

Europcar and fellow French WorldTour teams FDJ.fr, Ag2r-La Mondiale, as well as Movistar, Astana and Katusha have decided not to be part of Velon.

"Quick, quick, technology has arrived in cycling and it's an exceptional asset!" Bernaudeau told L'Équipe. "But behind it there's always the idea to create a pro league like the NBA and I'm against that."

L'Équipe also quoted an unidentified former team manager, who was equally doubtful of the effectiveness of Velon.

"Over the years, certain managers have tried to manage the economy of the sport but their attempts have always failed. Now we've got a new UCI president. Let's see how he reacts," the former manager said.

L'Équipe reported the creation of Velon on its website but gave the news just a paragraph in its printed edition, preferring to focus on an at home interview with Jean-Christophe Péraud. In Italy, reaction to the creation of Velon was more welcoming with Gazzetta dello Sport dedicating almost a page to Velon, while news of Vincenzo Nibali winning the Giglio d'Oro prize was squeezed into a corner.

Gazzetta dello Sport is owned by RCS Media Group, which also owns and organises the Giro d'Italia. Race director Mauro Vegni has seen many different associations and projects come and go over his many years in the sport but he welcomed Velon.

"It's a commercial marketing operation and can be useful to our sport because if it's done with passion and balance, and is well managed, it can increase the value of the sport and improve the product as a whole," Vegni said.

"The way people enjoy sport is changing; people want to see behind the scenes, go on the team bus of the best riders and see the racing from the bikes. Velon is starting with the objective to show cycling in a different way, offering what they have: the riders. They sit next to the AIGCP, which works on race calendars, rules and who has the right to set them.”

The UCI confirmed it has been in contact with the organisation, saying, "The UCI has been in regular contact with Velon and looks forward to continuing that constructive dialogue throughout the current reform process and beyond."

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