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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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Eleven World Tour Teams Form Velon,
An Alliance of Cycling Teams

So far, eleven World Tour cycling teams have agreed to join a new alliance of cycling teams called "Velon": Belkin, BMC, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, Orica-GreenEdge, Giant-Shimano, Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing.

Not joining the group are Astana, Katusha, Movistar and all three French World Tour teams: Ag2r-La Mondiale, Europcar and FDJ.

I received several press releases from teams that did join the alliance, and they were nearly all the same. Below are the ones I got from Belkin and BMC:

Tomorrow I'll post thoughts from those who think the Velon plan is not in cycling's best interests.

Pro Cycling Teams unite to create a more exciting, stable and credible sport


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.

Today sees 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.

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, 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.

Graham Bartlett: 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 syndicated to Cyclingnews and InCycle (which is also an IMG Media/Velon collaboration) were viewed over 1 million times. The videos from other races also gave significant YouTube traffic for the teams themselves.

The Belkin Pro Cycling team reached almost 150,000 fans with a video of the first stage of the Amgen Tour of California. An item on the bike cams broadcasted during Dutch television show De NOS Avondetappe (850.000 viewers) created 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.

Richard Plugge: “This group of teams have been talking for some time about how to better shape the future of the sport by collaborating with all other stakeholders. Now, we’ve formally come together to help develop ways for professional cycling to grow, to create long term stability for teams and credible and comprehensive racing. We’ve already made a difference, giving fans better insights and exciting views from inside the race. We want to bring the sport where it belongs, in the hearts and minds of the fans.”

Robert Gesink “I feel this collaboration is a great step forward. During the several races last season we have given the fans great images from the on-bike cams and our live stream in the Vuelta. It’s unique to see a great number of World Tour teams working together for the future of the sport, the teams, the riders and the audience. During the race we battle, but after the finish we work as a team for a better future of cycling. It helps building a better structure and financial stability.”

Wilco Kelderman “It’s a great initiative to have a transparent and attractive sport for the fans and stakeholders. As a team we have tried to give cycling back to the fans and create an upbeat future over the last few years. Now we can share knowledge with several World Tour teams to take the next steps. I already have given the fans an insight on Strava during the Giro, now we can work on greater initiatives.”

And this came from BMC:

BMC Racing Team Announced As Founding Member Of Velon

The BMC Racing Team was announced Tuesday as a founding member of Velon, a new group that is the first joint venture of 11 UCI WorldTour teams. The organization promises to make professional cycling more accessible, to bring technology to races and to promote stable, credible teams that fans can support long term.

More Support For Teams: Velon Chief Executive Officer Graham Bartlett, who has previously been involved with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), Nike and other major sports brands, said Velon was created to drive a financial model that is in line with other international sports and to ensure a sustainable future for its teams while working on their behalf to gain new business. "The existing, sponsor-only business model is fragile for all teams," Bartlett said. "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."

Develop Ways For Sport To Grow: The 10 teams joining the BMC Racing Team in the new venture are Belkin Pro Cycling (NED), Garmin-Sharp (USA), Lampre-Merida (ITA), Lotto-Beliso (BEL), Omega Pharma-Quick Step (BEL), ORICA-GreenEDGE (AUS), Team Giant-Shimano (NED), Team Sky (GBR), Tinkoff-Saxo (DEN) and Trek Factory Racing (USA). Bartlett said 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. BMC Racing Team President/General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the group of like-minded teams have been talking for some time about how to better shape the future of the sport. "We have already made a difference, giving fans better insights and exciting views from inside the race," Ochowicz said. "Now, we have formally come together to help develop ways for professional cycling to grow, for the benefit of those already involved and the growing number of those who want to get more deeply involved in this great sport.” Through Velon, the group will continue to work on partnerships with other stakeholders in the sport, including the UCI, race organizers, and the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels (AIGCP).

Help Fans Get Closer To The Action: The first example of Velon’s work came earlier this season, when teams got together to work with their riders and the race organizers to implement on-bike cameras during select races. “Velon is a great way for teams to help cycling fans get closer to the sport they love," said Tejay van Garderen, who helped the BMC Racing Team to a gold medal in the team time trial at the world championships in September. "It will lead to new technology and create even more exciting racing. Cycling has also needed a way for teams to work together, like they do in other mainstream sports. This is a tremendous first step.” Velon's core ideas and objectives for teams include 1) creating a more exciting sport by 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; 2) new technology that shows fans the action from the rider’s perspective; 3) creating a new, better economic future for the sport through collective action and increased co-operation between the teams and other stakeholders and support sustainable, credible teams the fans can follow now and long into the future.

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