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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 the sport – and offer an objective forum for analyzing its key structural, economic, governance and ethical aspects.  It’s time to listen to new ideas and change direction.  It’s time to take The Outer Line

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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 dozens of past articles from the Article Library page, and check back frequently for on-going commentary, innovative ideas and new directions in pro cycling.

“Beer Money” or “Nest Egg?” – Revamping Cycling’s Prize System

Prize money has long been a significant driver of competitive choices and strategic behavior in pro cycling. Event organizers have traditionally set aside significant dollars to award the top performers and teams in their events – both to attract stronger fields to the events, as well as to make the racing more competitive. Prize money has also been a powerful motivator for individual racers – in some events amounting to a major payoff for a few top finishers. But the prize money system is also a highly bureaucratic and inequitable process, and above all, it doesn’t work to incentivize aggressive racing.  Instead, this money needs to be redirected in a way that will benefit riders long-term, to shore up an underfunded pension system that has yet to meet the needs of retiring riders. How It Works Today:  In 2015, prize monies amounting to about $15 million were paid out across the world...

Lance Armstrong Interview – Part 2 Drilling Down on Some Practical Ideas for Pro Cycling’s Future

(Editors’ Note: In Part 1 of our extensive and broad-ranging interview with Lance Armstrong, we talked about his life today, his cycling-related activities, and his current business initiatives. In this second installment, we asked more substantive questions to gather Armstrong’s perspectives on how the sport of pro cycling could be strengthened going forward. As we said in the foreword to our first article, we are fully aware that Armstrong’s public statements and opinions generate widespread controversy, and we recognize that we will be accused by many of providing a platform for someone who should no longer have a voice in the sport. However, as independent observers of the sport, we believe that despite his controversial history in cycling his ideas and suggestions should be debated on the merits of their content, not rejected solely because of the history that precedes them. Note:...

SCAPEGOAT: The Travails of Michele Acquarone

Just five years ago, Italian Michele Acquarone was heralded as one of the true innovators and future leaders of professional cycling. He had assumed oversight of the Giro d’Italia – by any measure the world’s second most important race and for many, the world’s most exciting race – at age 36. He introduced new and modernized techniques for producing and marketing bike races, including the novel idea of sharing TV revenues with the teams in 2012. In many respects, he was exactly what pro cycling needed – a young, innovative and creative business leader; not a former cyclist wedded to the hidebound traditions and legacies of European cycling; willing to learn the intricacies of the sport, but not constrained by them. He brought creative thinking and progressive leadership that cycling desperately needed – and still cries out for today. Yet one day in October 2013 – after almost fifteen...

Sudden Cardiac Death in Pro Cycling

In the wake of 23-In the wake of 23-year-old Michael Goolaerts’ tragic death during the recent edition of Paris-Roubaix, the general topic of sudden cardiac death is suddenly on the minds of a lot of cycling fans – and probably more than a few professional riders as well. Although extremely rare, when an event like this does happen, it generates intense media attention and coverage – and can lead to anxiety, worries and misinformation. Below, we try to put this issue into clearer scientific context. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is extremely uncommon in young people, and is estimated to occur in only between 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 80,000 young athletes. Unfortunately, Goolaerts’ death illustrates how misconceptions can develop when the popular media tries to cover complex medical issues with incomplete data. Video footage of Goolaert’s crash is limited, but individual fan smartphone videos...

Tapping Cycling’s Hidden Goldmine – Part 2

As outlined in part 1 of this series, professional cycling has a broadcast problem. Cycling is currently broadcast on free-to-air TV in the European heartland, while pay options are either expensive and/or not available in a unified viewing package at many other places around the globe. The fractured nature of race ownership and extreme splitting of TV rights across markets makes it difficult for a single entity to bundle together digital broadcast rights in a direct-delivery model. In this article, we examine how a global content delivery model could be built using the now ubiquitous over-the-top (OTT) web model, globally connecting the sport to its fans, attracting new fans, and opening new revenue opportunities. The Tour of Flanders is a beautiful event and consistently provides thrilling racing, but U.S.-based cycling fans were disappointed to find that one of the biggest and best...

Adapt or Die – Will Cycling Embrace the OTT Revolution? Part 1

The Outer Line has previously discussed the role that television has played in the growth of pro cycling over the years, along with the challenges the sport faces as its traditional marketing models evolve. The collapse of cycling’s “number of eyeballs” marketing method, and its failure so far to deliver new digital delivery models places the sport’s future visibility and fan growth in jeopardy. In this article, largely researched and written by our new associate Spencer Martin, we discuss the current situation of producing and distributing cycling content, and in a future Part 2, we will assess the range of new, innovative and lucrative marketing strategies. The biggest races on cycling’s schedule are quickly approaching. This means every fan is about to begin the familiar scramble to find viewing options. As this desperate search begins once again, everyone will be left asking the...

The Anti-Doping Crisis in Sport: Causes, Consequences, Solutions

(Editors’ Note: In this article, Professors Paul Dimeo of the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom and Verner Møller of the University of Aarhus in Denmark present an overview of their upcoming book on the global sports doping crisis. Both Dimeo and Møller are widely-recognized academic scholars in the area of sports doping prevalence and alternative anti-doping control measures. Møller wrote an earlier book entitled “Scapegoat” about the experiences of the Danish rider Michael Rasmussen, and Dimeo garnered some measure of fame in the cycling world when he was named to head USA Cycling’s committee on anti-doping in 2016 and then fired before the group’s first meeting. Their book is due to be published and available to the public in mid-April, 2018.) This book is cast from a shared sense of bewilderment at the state of anti-doping; a system shot full of failures, dilemmas and...

Can Science Rescue Chris Froome?

(Editors’ note: Dr. Bill Apollo is a Harrisburg, PA-based cardiologist, and is a member of The Outer Line/VeloNews Board of Contributors. He is an amateur bike racer and was previously the state time trialing champion of Pennsylvania. In this article, he examines the Chris Froome controversy from a medical perspective, and concludes that it is unlikely to end well for Froome.) Pro cycling’s scandalous side resurfaced when Chris Froome returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for salbutamol during Stage 18 of the 2017 Vuelta a Espana. Froome, the consummate gentleman and affable champion, reminded us that he uses salbutamol for management of asthma, according to UCI rules and permissible limits. He reported worsening asthma symptoms during La Vuelta, and under doctor’s supervision, increased his salbutamol dose with the “greatest care” to ensure that he did not exceed the UCI’s...