We’re constantly told that cycling’s economic model is unsustainable, and that without serious investment and restructuring the sport will simply wither away. Rising costs to run teams; a lack of shared television revenues; a stumbling set of reforms, and a power struggle between the main power brokers are just some of the issues that have created an uncertain future for professional cycling.
According to Graham Bartlett, CEO of Velon, the solutions for cycling’s problems can be driven by the company which he leads. Velon is a collaboration and business venture by 11 of the current 18 WorldTour teams. They are pushing for greater economic stability, growth into new sectors and greater collaboration between the teams, the governing body and the largest race organiser in the world, ASO, who run and own the Tour de France.
When they first hit the headlines in 2014, L’Equipe afforded them a paragraph of space in their publication. In the two years since Velon has become a stakeholder at cycling’s top table. Certain parties may see Velon as a headache, even a rival, but they have been forced to listen. Now Velon has even more influence after announcing a ten-year deal with the global sports marketing company Infront, who recently bought the Ironman triathlon business and invested in cycling by buying the endurance-sports division of Paris-based Lagardère Sports – which owns the Hamburg Cyclassics race and a series of sportive events. Infront’s parent company Dalian Wanda Group of China was even rumoured to be making an attempt to buy ASO and so own the Tour de France.
Bartlett: "Infront is a great partner for Velon"
Velon aims to have deals in place by May of this year and there is a possibility that June’s Tour de Suisse could be the first event to showcase the new technology.
"People think that we want to scrap the monuments and have people riding up mountains backwards on pink bikes. That’s absolutely not the case. The beauty of the sport is its complexity and history and we want to keep that. What other sports have done really well is that they’ve taken the best of that history and expanded it. If the teams and organisers in cycling come together we can do that."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.