What Would You Do To Revamp Cycling?

Posted on 19. Mar, 2011 by in news

In an interview with BBC Sport, Jonathan Vaughters, who is both  president of the Association of Pro Tour and Pro Continental teams (AIGCP) and director of the Garmin-Cervelo Pro Team, delivered a 10-point list to revamp cycling. (Read it here)

MERCO Cycling Classic is a great example of a regional race

MERCO Cycling Classic is a great example of a regional race

I find that his list, perhaps understandingly, focuses on the Pro Teams and does not address women’s issues or general racing in North America. But it did give my colleague Stephanie and I food for thought.

After discussion we came up with the following list:

  • Revamp the NRC. Create National and Regional Race Series with leaders jerseys for both men and women. Squads leading the team classification get to wear color numbers at the race. Leader’s jersey are awarded at the end of the one-day or stage race. Simplify the point systems.  Prize money awarded to overall individual and team winners.
  • The winner of the previous year’s National Series team classification gets an automatic invite to the UCI .HC  races – currently the Amgen Tour of California and TD Bank International Cycling Championship (Liberty Classic). Winners of the Regional Series get an automatic invite to a National Series Race in its region.
  • Hold National Championships for Pro, Elite, U23 and Juniors – men and women – at the same location and same timeframe.
  • Allow Pro Continental teams to field full squads at National Series Races. Allow Pro Tour riders to race at National and Regional Series one-day races.
  • Every Pro Team must also sponsor a women’s team.
  • Every .1 and .HC UCI race must also offer a women’s race.
  • While we would love equitable prize money for the women, realistically we  understand that this could be too much to ask in the current environment, the money for women should be at least 75% of the men’s prize money. The goal would be for equity in 3 years.
  • Relax the rule for riders 28 years of age and older in UCI Continental teams.
  • Oh and on the wishlist section: live streaming of all National Series and UCI races in North America

While we do not agree with all of Vaughters’ points, the use of technology  to bring the fan into the race is one thing I can embrace. Cameras on the bike, in the car and live tracking of riders via GPS is all good if presented in an easy  to the fan.

What would you do to improve professional cycling?

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7 Responses to “What Would You Do To Revamp Cycling?”

  1. Roxanne

    20. Mar, 2011

    What I would do to revamp bicycle racing:

    1) ADVERTISE. I knew people who lived in Elk Grove Village, where the race was going to go *past their house* who couldn’t tell me when or where the race was going to be. Finding the dates, times and places can be daunting.

    2) Arrange for meetings between the fans and the riders, when the riders aren’t expected to be in pre-race mode. Little kids become baseball fans because they can go chat with their favorite players during batting practice. Cycling needs the moral equivalent of batting practice.

    3) Cycling needs all-level events. Have races that appeal to the whole range, from amateur kids up to European pro racers, on one day. Yeah, this means that a bunch of race coordinators who are used to being snobbish with each other would have to play nice together. NRC and UCI would have to play in each other’s sandbox, for instance. Yeah, I know. (The UCI is worried that someone else might get some of the TV revenue.)

    Those are my big-three ideas. I’ll let you know if I come up with more.

  2. Name Daniel

    20. Mar, 2011

    I also agree with ADVERTISMENT.

    What about a sports science look behind a cyclist. For example, wire up one of the top 5 athletes in each category to the announcers computer so he can inform the fans how much power a cyclist has to produces in a break or a final sprint. I know if I heard an announcer say that an athlete pushed out 1,800 watts in a sprint and reached a speed of 36-39 MPH, my jaw would drop.

    I wonder if people know how many miles a week a cyclist puts on his/her body to become an Elite cyclist. I tell people I go on 60-70 mi training rides and they flip out. Gives them another prospective about the sport. Fans go crazy over spring training or the NFL combine… What about the prep it takes to complete a 4day stage race like the Merco Classic or a tour of california…think about that and let’s figure a way to draw people to the sport of cycling.

    See you at Sea Otter!

  3. Name

    21. Mar, 2011

    Development Programs
    European (Soccer) Football is a perfect example of how to do it. Kids join their local football club at 6-7 years old and develop as our kids do with high school sports.

    The best keep moving up, and the rest are either club level athletes or fans of their team for life.

    Rabobank is a great examPle of this on the cycling side.

    Now take that idea and put it in place here, utilize the high school and collegiate cycling leagues. Tie them into a development squad that is tied to a pro team and kids And more importantly their families have a path to foll

  4. Allen Wahlström

    21. Mar, 2011

    (continued) follow.

    Give directors incentive to develop young riders.

    The loser tier soccer teams develop a star and a Man U or Bayern München pays that club €$£’s to buy his contract. This gives smaller clubs the funding to not only get better, but attract top level talent. Those kids can see a path thru that program to a contract at the highest level.

    In the states we have Garmin and livestrong, with teams like Cal Giant at the next level below. (not for long)

    An organized U23 movement here could give the US another step up the ladder, and more marketing power to entice potential sponsors.

  5. Name

    21. Mar, 2011

    How can we speak re-vamp and even mention doping? Let’s start w/ Bio-Passport for women, all the testing focus/resources on the men has pulled resources away from the woman. The women are currently being tested like it’s 1999.

  6. lyne

    21. Mar, 2011

    thank you all for the comments. First of all, I stayed away from the doping angle because that in itself could be a whole list. But yes the women should be tested as often as the men, and more often in North America for both.

    The advertising aspect for me is more a race organizer problem with either lack of resources – money, people – to do it or maybe lack of understanding of marketing and media. Most races and teams could do so much more with regards with social media to brand their team. But they don’t.

    I do think there is a gap in the development of riders as most of the focus seems to be to bring the identified top talent to Europe but what about the rest? And it’s worst on the women’s side. Not sure what could be done there.

  7. tmana

    21. Mar, 2011

    I might consider asking the UCI to hire a herald to make sure that the livery (kit) of each team is distinctly recognizeable at a distance and at low resolution from all angles (e.g., low-resolution streaming video from a helicopter) and that in addition to current sponsors, it reflect the history of the team (so that, for example, the casual fan understands that the team which is Movistar this year was Caisse d’Épargne last year). It might also be useful to tie feeder teams’ (UCI Continental, regional, amateur, and/or junior teams) livery to the livery of the Pro Teams or ProContinental teams which are the top level of that {particular sponsor-set/ management company/farm system}, using specific differences (such as a distinct band at the sleeve and leg hems) to distinguish at which level that particular squad is racing.