Current status quo in Pro Cycling
Budgets and teams are becoming bigger and bigger. At the same time more and more pro cycling teams struggle to survive economically, and there is also a lack in youth development.
Big teams with big budgets are a good thing and important for the whole cycling scene as long as there is a solid basis build around them. The big budgets do mostly come from rich individuals or from countries whose main motivation is to satisfy private or political wishes. Private engagement and politics are changing rapidly and are seemingly out of control. As a result the big teams and the pro cycling scene is build on sand.
Meanwhile, only a handful of big budget teams dominate the most important races, and this monopoly status has led to increasingly less entertainment value.
The solution? To establish various stable and inspiring pro cycling mini teams around the current big and semi big teams.
What is a Pro Cycling mini team
A Pro Cycling mini team is a small and low budget pro cycling team that recruits riders and staff from all over the world. A mini team could comprise from 1 cyclist up to 12 riders (female & male). Also, freelance pro cycling racers without a team could join the mini team occasionally. They would then have the possibility to go racing with the mini team and take part in some selected races.
The mini team will be sponsored by various small sponsorships, foundations and godparent hoods. The riders could participate in different world wide cycling events such as road cycle races, track cycle races, cycle-cross and mountain bike races.
Engagement and involvement of the riders & staff in the urban cycling scene as well as in social projects, different sport events as well as other events in the fields of media, art, fashion, lifestyle, etc. is desirable.
Low budget does not necessarily mean that the team has fewer options, because Pro Cycling is an entertainment business in which fresh ideas and creativity are more important than big budgets.
Why mini teams will become a new trend in pro cycling
- Mini teams are less bureaucratic and benefit from shorter decisions-making paths. They more flexible and therefore are able to respond rapidly to constantly changing requirements.
- Because of their independence, teams are more free to operate on different platform for overlapping areas related to sports, art, fashion, food & drink, lifestyle, etc. Taken this into account, a mini team could represent campaigns that will reach audiences that are not involved in the cycling scene. Potential sponsors of mini teams can benefit from an effective and diversified promotion.
- Mini teams perform exciting entertainmentand interesting racing styles because they have to compensate the domination of big budget teams in races. Therefore they will cooperate tactically and operationally with riders from other (mini) teams. This leads to more thrilling and unpredictable races.
- Smaller teams with less riders implicate that more and different teams participate in a race – thus enhances the diversity in the peloton and in the cycling scene in general.
- Mini teams have more endurance they could be sponsored by several equal companies and organizations. Therefore there will be no drama if one or two sponsors decide to stop their engagement. Mini teams have the ability to survive easier than big teams who have to rely on their main sponsor.
- Mini teams provide a better identificationby presenting worthy ideas and not by switching company names. The mini teams could introduce social or ethical mottos and guiding principles. The brand name of the mini team expresses the concepts and goals of the team, and the name of the mini team remains unchanged when old sponsors leave and new supporters come on board.
- Mini teams provide a good image. They do not only display the logos and brand names of their sponsors on the road and in the media, they also present their sponsors as a part of their engagement, e.g. for a better world.
- Smaller teams could integrate and support young talents easier and give older pro riders a time slot to their way to retirement. Mini teams are not forced to win big races, and they work and run under the topics: message, image & entertainment.
The present closed system in pro cycling has to open for new and fresh ideas. Pro cycling is all about passion and creating amazing stories on and off the bike.
Author: Gerd Lombardi
Gerd is a former racing cyclist who works in the media & consulting business since more than 20 years, and combines his racing experience with his media expert knowledge. He is also an independent filmmaker and a part of the «global cycling tribe» (twitter.com/cycling_one) that is currently building up a cross-border pro cycling mini team.