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Starting With A Clean Slate

The recent announcement that Amaury Sports Organization’s (ASO) major women’s race, known as “La Course,” will once again last only a single day in July during the men’s Tour de France, was a sharp jab in the side of women’s cycling – and given the recent wave of rising expectations for the sport, the backlash from cycling fans and observers has already been considerable. However, it’s time to stop pointing fingers at ASO, because women’s cycling doesn’t really need a single race which overshadows the rest of its calendar. Let’s talk about how the sport might plot a more successful path by developing its own agenda, priorities and schedule. The success of the Tour de France may have made the Amaurys a wealthy family, but its domination of the men’s sport has not always been a positive thing. ASO and the interests of the Tour often stand in the way of the teams’ and...

The UCI Election: Time to Cast the Votes

In about a week, the national federations comprising the Union Cycliste International (UCI) will vote in Bergen, Norway to elect their next President. Incumbent Brian Cookson, now completing his first term as President, faces off against David Lappartient – the former President of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), the current President of the European Cycling Union (UEC), and also a Vice President of the UCI itself. In this article, we evaluate each candidate’s record – based upon their stated positions on the key issues, historical statements to the press and public, as well as comments and recommendations from interviews which we conducted with each candidate over the past two weeks.  In the final section, we recommend and endorse the candidate who we believe is best-suited to guide the UCI and shape the next four years of global cycling. Brian Cookson has been credited for his...

Canary In The Coal Mine?

The announcement that the Cannondale-Drapac pro cycling team may be on the brink of folding came as a surprise – though it probably shouldn’t have. Pro cycling is almost completely dependent on sponsorship to keep its economic wheels turning, and a sponsor’s decision to pull up and walk away can make or break a team in an instant. Many teams operate close to this financial precipice in cycling’s current economics, so why do some fail when others thrive? Cannondale-Drapac’s predicament highlights an important difference between teams which are primarily backed by passionate and wealthy patrons, versus those which are sponsored by corporations. Patrons typically have the flexibility, and the money to “burn” on their passions and interests. On the other hand, corporations have to undertake in-depth financial analyses and calculations before committing to a sporting sponsorship – before...

Pat McQuaid is Alive and Well

Once the most powerful man in cycling, Pat McQuaid is now living a quiet life in the countryside of southern France. After achieving success as a racer in the 1970s, he became involved with cycling’s governance starting in 1993, when he was elected President of the Irish Cycling Federation. As President of the UCI from 2005 to 2013, he oversaw a transitional period in the organization; the sport was growing rapidly in the wake of Lance Armstrong’s compelling story and seven successive Tour de France wins, and also due to globalization strategies set in motion by the UCI’s first President, the late Hein Verbruggen. McQuaid has maintained a low profile since his two-term tenure as UCI President ended in 2013, but he still has a finger on the pulse of global cycling. His successor, Brian Cookson, is wrapping up his four year term as President of the UCI, and is facing a strong challenge...

Tour de Pharmacy’s Tough Punchline

Fans of the TV show Portlandia are amused by the quirky portrayals of Portland’s residents, and the unique ways in which they interact with their insular world. But for actual residents of the city of Portland, the show can make for uncomfortable viewing because it highlights the all-too-real stereotypes of the people, places, and activities that make the socially-progressive city one of the centers of the of the tree-hugging, liberal world. Cycling’s die-hard fans and its stakeholders are in for the same rude awakening, when HBO Films’ “mockumentary” Tour de Pharmacy airs on July 8th. There is an old adage – that often things which are said in jest are said half in truth. Satire and comedy often reflect the uncomfortable aspects of real life, and in this light some cycling fans may enjoy the program, but there will probably be just as many fans turned off or offended by the portrayal...

Entering a New Dimension

When The Outer Line first talked with Team Dimension Data general manager Doug Ryder several years ago, he emphasized that he was building a different kind of team – one structured around a philanthropic cause, but ultimately focused on earning an African-based team the opportunity to participate in the Tour de France. He has made major strides since then, and today, the WorldTour’s sole African team is continuing to demonstrate – to the other teams and to the overall sport – an innovative model to improve the accessibility and sustainability of pro cycling. But along the way, Ryder has found that holding onto that spot in the WorldTour is just as hard as winning any of the sport’s Monuments. The controversial UCI points system, which ranks the athletic competitiveness of teams and individual athletes, also dictates the fortunes of teams aspiring to join or simply maintain their spot...