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The Outer Line

…. is the path often taken by cyclists who are unable to break into the lead-out train, but whose strength, resolve and tactical cunning can lead them to victory.

 

We provide an independent perspective on the challenges facing pro cycling – and offer an objective forum for analyzing the key structural, economic, governance and ethical aspects of the sport. Through informed and constructive discussion, we hope to improve the underlying characteristics, reform the historical models, and help pro cycling to truly grow and thrive.

 

 Cycling has relied on legacy and tradition for too long – locking us to an inner line that has clearly failed, and which risks the future of the sport.  It’s time to listen to new ideas and change direction.  It’s time to take The Outer Line…

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Click below for a Summary of A Roadmap to Repair Pro Cycling


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And, click here for an overview of our Business Plan for the proposed

International Pro Cycling League
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Scroll down to read our most recent articles on the issues facing pro cycling and the perspectives of various leaders in the sport. Print out copies of any of our past articles from the Article Library page, and check back frequently for on-going commentary, innovative ideas and new directions in pro cycling.

Full Circle: Cycles in American Track Racing

The foundations of competitive cycling in the United States were built at its velodromes, from the early days of Major Taylor and Bobby Walthour, to the high point of the Six-Day racing era of the 1930s. Velodromes were one of the most popular sporting venues in the U.S. at that time and attracted the world’s best riders. Yet from those early days of widespread national and international popularity, the sport declined during and after World War II, with the last annual Six-Day race occurring in Madison Square Garden in 1961.

ASO’s Game of Monopoly

The recent move by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) to reject proposed UCI changes and pull its races out of the WorldTour has left people wondering what it all means. ASO says that its move will preserve an open and more competitive atmosphere in the sport. But closer analysis shows that if ASO follows through on this threat, it will inflict severe economic pressure on the teams, strengthen their own competitive advantage over other race organizers, and marginalize the economic and career aspirations of the riders – even forcing many out of the sport. From the short list of rather marginal changes that comprise UCI’s so-called reforms, ASO is primarily unhappy about the proposed extension of WorldTour team licenses from one year to three years. This is a critical point for the teams, because WorldTour license holders receive an automatic invitation to the Tour de France – the...

Fiddling While Rome Burns?

Big news keeps hitting pro cycling during what is normally the sport’s winter down-time. On December 7th, the UCI announced its next wave of “reforms” for the WorldTour, to far more fanfare than the facts generally seemed to justify.  Just a day later, rumors began to swirl that Dalian Wanda – the emerging Chinese sports/entertainment giant, and new owner of Ironman Triathlon – was looking to purchase pro cycling’s Grand Tours.  Joining Dalian Wanda in the sweeps for a Grand Tour stake, it was then reported a few days later that media and entertainment giants Discovery Communications and International Management Group (IMG) may be bidding for RCS’s race portfolio, including ownership of the Giro d’Italia.  Finally, as if on cue, and to throw another wrench in the works, ASO rejected the UCI reforms and pulled its races from the WorldTour on December 18th, ostensibly in the name of...

New Twists on Sponsorship: Good or Bad?

Several new pro cycling sponsorship deals have been announced in the last couple weeks. The first was a commitment from Deloitte – the international accounting and consultancy firm – to be a new “gold” sponsor for the newly named Dimension Data-Qhubeka team.  Then the German grocery chain Lidl made a commitment to add funding to the Etixx-QuickStep team.  These two events share a common thread: the investments were needed to bring specific riders on board. Deloitte believes that Mark Cavendish and his key lead-out men can bring multiple wins and exposure for its brand name, while Lidl seems to think Marcel Kittel can do the same for them. Team sponsorship is the critical financial under-pinning of professional cycling, and it is always something of an economic gamble.  Sponsors come and go with alarming regularity; neither of the above-mentioned teams have the same sponsors today that...

Leading by Example: A Discussion with Marco Pinotti

During his professional career from 1999 through 2013, Italian Marco Pinotti was one of the most respected racers in the pro peloton. He won the Italian national time trial championships a record six times, as well as numerous stages in the Giro d’Italia, and he wore the race’s pink jersey on two different occasions.  In 2009 he joined the record-setting Columbia High Road team of Bob Stapleton – a team which set new standards in terms of clean racing as well as competitive results.  He finished his career in 2013 with Team BMC, where he still remains as a sports trainer, and where he recently guided the team to victory in the World Time Trial championships in Richmond, Virginia. Pinotti was perhaps never a household name in pro racing, but during his career he established himself as much more than an accomplished bike racer.  While training to become a professional cyclist, he also...

Kill Your Television?

Fact: The growth pro cycling has enjoyed over the past two decades has occurred largely thanks to television. TV is the primary way that about 99% of cycling’s audience can watch the sport, and it is also a key revenue driver for certain events and for the all-important team sponsors. The Tour de France is now the third most-watched sporting event on the planet, and its race drama plays out on millions of TVs around the world. Stronger and more effective cycling content and programming, and new distribution approaches could bring waves of new fans to the sport. This represents a great opportunity to grow pro cycling. However, there are first a number of obstacles which must be overcome. A Sea of Challenges: Cycling is one of the most expensive sports to televise, because it takes place on the road rather than in a stadium. A large array of highly-specialized and expensive equipment...

Shifting Gears: How a Stronger Union Could Change Pro Cycling

Stronger athlete representation is a critical need in professional cycling today. The examples from almost all other professional sports show that the players must have a spot at the table in order for overall conditions in the sport to improve. Although the influential CIRC report dedicated a mere five lines out of two hundred pages to this issue in March 2015, it did recommend that the UCI facilitate the creation of a strong riders’ union – “to give riders a collective voice, particularly on the issues of ownership, revenue sharing, the racing calendar, and anti-doping.” Despite the clear need for stronger athlete representation, and all the grand statements and intentions, not much has changed for the peloton over the past decade. UCI President Brian Cookson promised that he would push for a bigger role for the professional cyclists’ association, and pledged to appoint a special...

Pro Cycling’s Family Feud – and How to Solve It

The world’s cycling fans will be focused on France starting this Saturday, but not just to see who wins the Tour de France.  The long-standing feud over who runs pro cycling may be about to boil over and play out in front of a global audience.  On one side is Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the private French family company which owns the Tour and many other prominent races – and the undisputed commercial force in the sport. On the other is the Union Cycliste International (UCI), the international federation which regulates cycling and has historically controlled the pro calendar. Nominally, their current dispute involves overdue but relatively minor calendar and team structure reforms. Behind the scenes however, this feud and on-going impasse is about power and identity, and who will control the future of pro cycling. The UCI has been trying to recast itself as a professional league...