The UCI mountain bike commission, headed by president Daniel Baal, held an hour long briefing conference at the 2005 World Championships last week and announced, among other things, that it was modifying its working relationship with GESTEV, Inc. and 23 Degrees Sports, the management team responsible for organizing sponsorship and television distribution for the UCI World Cup.
"The World Cup is the high point of the mountain bike season, but we regret that there have been no sponsors or TV program for the last two seasons," Baal said at the conference. "In 2004 we talked to the organization (23 Degrees and GESTEV) about outsourcing management of the World Cup for 2006. For this year they had the possibility (of taking charge of the World Cup), and worked for one year. They did not have success. Despite a lot of effort and energy, there were not sufficient guarantees to start the agreement for 2006. Unfortunately, the marketplace and the economic conditions do not show the (required) interest in this program."
In response, - Patrice Drouin (director of GESTEV Inc.) and Martin Whiteley (director of 23 Degrees Sports Management S.L.) issued the following statement on Friday:
- Calendar coordination with other major events and series. This includes frequent discussions and negotiations about dates with the organisers of the NORBA Series in the USA, Maxxis Cup in Europe, and other major events, to ensure there is a coordinated travel path between these events and the World Cup for riders, teams, press etc.
- Suggestions for specific rule changes for the improvement of the World Cup for next year, which have already been received by the UCI.
- The identification, visitation and coordination of the various candidate venues for 2006. Our research and contacts for these potential venues have been passed onto the UCI for their consideration in putting together the 2006 calendar.
- Of course, after the main point of identifying the possible dates and venues, our task was to establish a TV distribution and production strategy for this project, which has been done in cooperation with major agencies.
- Preparation, production and widely distributed sponsorship packages which has been coordinated with the assistance of highly respected international marketing agencies and agencies that specialise in the fields of TV production and distribution.
In conclusion, both of our companies fully understand the administrative need the UCI has in taking back the management rights at this point in order that a calendar can be fixed as soon as possible for 2006, with the bare minimum plan for global marketing. However, we remain fully optimistic and in fact, certain, that the media interest in our sport is returning to the high levels of some years back, and we expect in the coming weeks to be able to formalize a TV contract that will be global and extensive in nature.
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