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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.

Jumbo-Visma: Rising From the Ashes

If any WorldTour team has ridden a roller-coaster of fortune over the past few years, that team would have to be Jumbo-Visma. Formerly known as Rabobank, the team has long the pride and joy of the cycling-crazy Dutch fans, but it ran into a storm of financial, doping and sponsorship problems in 2010 and 2011. With several of its riders accused of or admitted to doping problems, and following the October, 2012 USADA Armstrong report, Rabobank abruptly pulled out, saying “We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport.” Remarkably, the firm wanted out so bad that it had its name removed from the team’s jerseys, even though contractually it continued to fund the team for another year. Riding for awhile as the no-name “Team Blanco” and even after the team was able to attract the U.S. electronics firm Belkin as a sponsor...

Team Ineos faces leadership question after Bernal’s Tour victory

The performance of Team Ineos at this year’s Tour de France has already been scrutinized and dissected countless times in the media over the past few weeks – before, during and after the race. And after things finally wrapped up last Sunday, there stood Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas on the top two steps of the podium just as many expected, netting the same 1 – 2 result the team achieved in 2012 with Wiggins and Froome. Clearly, winning seven of the last eight editions of the world’s preeminent bike race with four different racers is an extraordinary achievement, and it neatly encapsulates the team’s dominance over the sport during the past decade. But the paper results from this year’s Tour also mask some serious concerns and emerging cracks in the team’s edifice, and beg some questions about their direction and leadership in the future. Even though they ended up winning—and grabbing...

Remembering Greg LeMond’s thrilling victory 30 years later

America is a country rich in sporting tradition, and in the annals of American sports there have been many stories of amazing comebacks – by both individuals and teams. However, perhaps no story is bigger than Greg LeMond’s comeback to win the 1989 Tour de France – exactly 30 years ago today, on July 23, 1989. LeMond came back from nearly dying in a hunting accident, then doubling down to rally from a 50-second deficit to French great Laurent Fignon on the final day’s relatively short individual time trial, to barely eke out a win in one of world’s most challenging and grueling sporting events. To understand why Lemond’s win that year should be considered among the greatest comebacks in American sports history, one must reflect on the years leading up to his historic win in Paris that year. In 1983, as a 22-year-old, LeMond captured the World Championship of road cycling, the biggest...

‘Life Goes on’ for NBC Sports’ Tour Team Following Sherwen’s Tragic Death

When the Tour de France coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Network this weekend, it will mark the first time in 33 years that an English speaking audience will not hear the voice and sage insights of Paul Sherwen, who passed away in December, 2018. Long-time insider and supporting desk presenter Bob Roll will join the venerable Phil Liggett in front of the live commentary box cameras when coverage starts from Brussels, Belgium, Saturday, July 6. The transition would appear natural in light of Roll’s veteran experience in the booth and rapport with both personalities, and his deep historical cycling knowledge. Behind the scenes, NBC faces a daunting task to elevate its production game due to the expected impacts of Sherwen’s absence. “Bob knows he can never fill Paul’s shoes. Bob will simply have to cobble together a new pair,” said NBC’s Producer David Michaels, who has helmed the Tour’s...

The UCI’s New Track Cycling Model Is a Step Backwards

The UCI’s recent decision to overhaul the international track cycling calendar will have far-reaching impacts. The changes completely rearrange the World Cup races to new summer-time dates, and add new Nation’s Cup races interspersed through the winter months. On the surface, this realigns elite track racing to converge with the World Road Championships date window, similar to the pre-1999 calendar. But the additional regulation changes – which limit event participation to National Teams and selected national team riders – will be a huge step back and effectively kill independent professional track cycling teams, and potentially restrict the future development of professional-level track events. Response from the two prominent track racing trade teams, BEAT Cycling and the Huub Wattbike Test Team, was immediate. Eliminating private teams from the entire UCI format – and the venue and...

Surviving In the Cycling Media Business

Three years ago, Felix Magowan and I wrote a commentary about on-going consolidation trends in the broader bicycle industry.  When growth is slow and too many companies are competing to provide similar services, that’s what naturally happens – down-sizing on the supply side of the market and consolidation amongst the remaining players.  Many other sectors of the bike industry have unfortunately been in this kind of predicament for several years now, so it’s no surprise that the media sector is experiencing similar symptoms. There are simply too many players providing similar services to a small – some would say even shrinking – market. This challenge is amplified by transformative changes that we’ve all heard about in the broader media industry – the “death” of print, the shift to digital, the focus on “click bait,” the rise of social media as a primary purveyor of news and opinion,...

A New Twist on Summertime Colorado Bike Racing

Professional bike racing has been a staple in Colorado for decades. After a number of successful years of international racing with the Red Zinger and the Coors Classic events in the 1970s and 1980s, top-level pro bike racing blossomed again with the US Pro Cycling Challenge from 2011 through 2015. Top WorldTour teams and racers like Chris Froome and Peter Sagan participated, and for one week Colorado was the center of international bike racing. But all of these events suffered from the omnipresent challenge of sustaining the requisite funding and sponsorship – and all eventually folded. The latest iteration, the Colorado Classic, was inaugurated in 2017 – again boasting an international roster of men’s and women’s teams contesting a multi-day stage race across the state. This time the event was held in conjunction with the Velorama music festival, as part of “an integrated mission to...

Examining the link between exercise and cardiac injury

Regular exercise is the cornerstone of prevention and treatment of many cardiac and non-cardiac diseases, and has been robustly validated across the medical literature. Recognizing the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle, the American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity – or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. Many people leading hectic lives, and seeking to exercise primarily for the purpose of general fitness, struggle to find the time necessary to attain these goals. On the other hand, most endurance athletes train for substantially more time than this. Many cyclists – including those at the recreational level – may exceed these recommendations, and even in a single workout. The notion that too much exercise may be harmful has recently been...