Posted by Editoress on 11/26/14
Tuesday November 25th saw the launch of Velon, the first joint venture of UCI World Tour cycling teams. This group brings together 11 leading teams - over 60 per cent of the World Tour - to drive a financial model that, in line with other international sports, ensures a sustainable future for the teams. Velon aims to make the sport more accessible to all, to bring technology to the races and to promote stable, credible teams that fans can support long-term.
To achieve this the group wants to bring excitement to the sport, allowing fans to engage more with the teams than ever before. Velon's aims are for a coherent season that excites people from start to finish and uses emerging technologies, such as on-bike cameras, that bring fans closer to the action. Through Velon, the group will continue to work on partnerships with other stakeholders in the sport, including the UCI, the race organisers, and the AIGCP professional cycling association.
Velon's founding members are Belkin Pro Cycling, BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Team Giant-Shimano, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing. The group is open to working with other teams that share their objectives and values, either to join Velon or partner with the company on new business.
The core ideas and objectives for the Teams in Velon are:
• More exciting sport: looking for a race calendar that tells a season long story, and is better understood by a growing international fan base, with more entertaining racing for the fans.
• New technology: bring the race alive from the rider's perspective, showing the fans what it's like from the saddle.
• Underpinned by sustainable, credible teams the fans can follow now and long into the future. Creating a new, better economic future for the sport, through collective action and increased co-operation between the teams and other stakeholders.
The company has been created to work on behalf of these teams for new business creation. Each team is represented on the board and Graham Bartlett (formerly of UEFA, Nike and other major sports brands) has been appointed as CEO.
Bartlett said: "The existing, sponsor-only, business model is fragile for all teams. We need to change this to a more rounded one with fans at the heart of it, investing in new technological initiatives to generate greater excitement from the races and bring the sport closer to its fans. The company will look to use the combined commitment of the teams to create new revenues.
"This combined commitment can help to deliver more of what the fans want to see from the sport - exciting races brought to life with great technology. What we're trying to build will hopefully create a virtuous circle where it's easier for fans to engage with the teams and riders and gives the teams even greater incentives to maintain credibility."
The first example of Velon's work came earlier this year, when these teams got together to work with their riders and the race organisers to implement on-bike cameras during the races.
Bartlett adds: "This could only have been negotiated and delivered with the organisers by having a unified group. Initially co-operating with IMG for the Tour de Suisse and then continuing with A.S.O. at the Tour de France, the Vuelta and a number of other big races in the calendar.
"By using new technology, and by working very closely with the race organisers, the teams were able to capture fantastic, never seen before footage showing the riders in spectacular fashion and the response from the fans was even better than we expected."
The Tour de Suisse on-bike camera videos were viewed over 1 million times. The videos from other races also gave significant YouTube traffic for the teams themselves, Orica-GreenEDGE's Tour de France Stage 5 footage, for example, was viewed over 108,000 times, creating significant interest for the team.
Fans and financial partners must trust the sport and the teams must be open, honest and transparent. The integrity of cycling is also the foundation for a healthy following, increased investment and further growth. This must be based on a sound, stable business model for the teams.
Patrick Lefevere (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step CEO): "I am confident this can increase the margin of growth of cycling. The sport is growing year-by-year, and we need new and professional structures to be able to increase and defend our common goals. As teams we are competitors during races. However, outside this world there is a lot we can do together to gain more popularity and to become in the future one of the main sports, considering how many people love professional cycling and people who also use cycling as a recreational activity. The market is huge and this is the first step to improve and to enter into a new era for cycling."
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step): "It will be important to make our sport even better, more understandable, and more marketable for people outside the cycling world. I believe that this kind of project is important to enlarge our fan base and to increase the awareness of our sport internationally, using, for example, technology as we show in the recent past with on board bike cameras."
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick-step): "I am looking forward to seeing what this can provide for the sport, teams, and the riders. It is important to create greater stability for the teams to give the new generation of cyclists a secure environment in which to develop into the stars of the future. It is exciting to see so many teams now working together to do just that."
Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Sharp): "It's great to see teams working so closely together to create an even better future for cycling; and bringing fans closer to the action of the sport we all love. This is an important and exciting initiative."
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing): "The teams have a story to tell and it is through a project like Velon that they can be sure that story is heard. The on-bike cameras were a first example of the soul and strength of the collaboration between the teams and the other stakeholders in cycling."
Velon is a business venture formed by pro-cycling teams, established in 2014 to foster longer term stability for its members and the sport. It is wholly owned and controlled equally by the 11 shareholding teams. Headquartered in the UK, the commercial organisation "Velon" was founded by Belkin Pro Cycling, BMC Racing, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Team Giant-Shimano, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing, with members of each team on Velon's board. Its first project was to create on-bike camera footage for several UCI World Tour races in 2014.
Sources: Trek Factory Racing, Belkin Pro Cycling, Slipstream Sports, Omega Pharma Quick-Step Cycling Team, Team Giant-Shimano
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