"The 33"-Road Bike Racing - Will Slipstream get a early Pro Tour spot?
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08-19-07, 04:38 AM
With the announcements by Discovery and Unibet and the probability that Astana is now out of the UCI Pro Tour this means that it's likely/possible that the UCI Pro Tour may invite three additional teams into the Pro Tour fold. Who are the likely teams? Barloworld? Skil-Shimano? any others? Does this mean Slipstream could possibly enter the Pro Tour a year earlier than they were originally planning? In the $cheme of things you know the UCI needs a US team in the tour to keep selling merch and t.v. coverage to the US. It's early yet and there may be other teams/sponsors that decide to fold teams up as well. Your thoughts.
08-19-07, 05:53 AM
I definitely think that Barloworld deserves a place on the tour after their results in the TdF, but that could just be because I'm a huge Soler-Hernandez fan :D
As for slipstream? Well, they're an as-yet undefined quantity really. True, they do have some big names, but I'm not sure that necessarily guarantees success. I think the Pro Tour will want to wait and see what they can do first.
08-19-07, 07:20 AM
They have some strong riders now, but the rest of the squad is getting no results at all in the european races. The big names on the
team are going to get no strong support in ProTour races whatsoever, so I think next season would be too early, they would struggle just to get through the season I think. Barloworld and Tinkoff are better bets.
08-19-07, 07:51 AM
In the $cheme of things you know the UCI needs a US team in the tour to keep selling merch and t.v. coverage to the US.
TV coverage? This ain't the Olympics. Anyone have any figures about what kind of money was paid to cover any European racing by US based TV? Bt their European counterparts?
As for merchandising, I wasn't aware of any revenue sharing deal the UCI (Pro Tour) had with teams. Is there any? Numbers anyone?
My suspicion is that you are overestimating the impact US riders have within the UCI. This is still a sport dominated by Europeans. Sure, there is success for riders outside the Continent in many high profile races, but if you look at the entire Protour schedule, plus all the other races that most American cycling fans have never heard of, plus the myriad of Division I, II and III teams out there, it may not add up.
Like I said, this is my feeling here (feeling, not emotion). I don't have any numbers to back this up and would be very interested to hear from someone who does, either way.
There is, of course, an advantage to having a US based team on the Pro Tour. If you look at what the UCI has been doing in Asia and other non-traditional cycling markets, this would support the inclusion of a US based team on the Pro Tour.
Considering the relationship Armstrong had with the ASO, and, to a lesser degree, the UCI, the powers that be may not be so eager to rush to include a new US team. There are plenty of US riders riding for European based teams. Maybe that would still be enough to keep fans watching the Tour in the US. Do US fans really care if their riders ride for a US team or a German team? Is it that important?
Also consider the health of racing in NA right now. It is pretty good. The number of good races and the regions of NA they are in has increased. As I said, the UCI really wants to develop the non-traditional markets. Maybe keeping a US based team out of the Pro Tour, and racing in NA, would help strengthen racing in NA for a year or two.
No concrete positions here. Mostly just a few facts and some scatter musings. Look forward to the responses.
08-19-07, 10:23 AM
The ProTour was already one team down from last year (Phonak) so there is place in the plan for 4 is Astana is gone as you suggest.
Also, since when has the UCI reacted rationally. Don't try to put logic into their actions as they have repeatedly shown that they don't operate by those rules.
The UCI and their ProTour sub-organization may indeed invite several teams to participate but right now the ProTour is in a very weak position and many of those teams will probably decline to pay the ProTour
fees just for the "honor" of participating in their often ignored competition.
The ProTour is supposed to guarantee teams spots in the ProTour events- look how that worked out of Unibet. With the ProTour being down either 3 or 4 teams and furthermore having no real power to enforce the guaranteed entry clause there would be very little upside for a team like Slipstream from joining that organization.
Team Slipstream is sponsored by US focused companies that want to sell to a US market. They travel around to various US venues and flash the sponsors logos to potential customers. They are sponsored wrong for a ProTour team competing in Europe. They would need a transnational company as a prime sponsor for that jump.
All that having been said I would be surprised if the ProTour wasn't looking for a North American or specifically US team to join the ProTour for the various reasons above. Some of the bigger ProTour sponsors certainly like the US eyeballs on their advertising and many of the teams' sponsors like that same advertising in the US (CSC, Shimano, ...). But as I said before, the UCI is not rational and the teams don't have to say yes.
Do you think teams like Barloword and Slipstream are not going to get good invites next year with only 17 or 18 ProTour teams?
08-19-07, 12:43 PM
how is this determined?
08-19-07, 04:46 PM
Methinks the bigger question is, "how long will ProTour last?" I'm not sure how everything is structured, but it seems like ASO and the Grand Tour organizers are really unhappy with the UCI right now, so who knows.
I can see them getting some spots, possibly even a TdF wild card, either due to better riders or to make some kind of anti-doping statement.
FYI, Slipstream is already competing in Europe and wants to be a part of ProTour:
Alicia: The team is scheduled to race in Europe this season, do you think you will be invited to any Fall Classics?
JV: I do not really know. I think the Pro Tour thing needs to sort itself out first before we figure that out. Our calendar in Europe is already full, really full. We have over 100 days of competition over there. We did last year as well., this year we are just doing slightly larger races. I think we it is pretty exciting for the guys, and they know the drill now. I think they will start to perform a little more visibly over there.
Alicia: As far as the Pro Tour is concerned, do you see Slip Stream becoming a Pro Tour team eventually?
JV: Well, if the Pro Tour exists, I do.
That was back in March btw. In that interview, Vaughters also expressed interest in Millar, Vandevelde, Hincapie and O'Grady by the way. Hmmm ;)
08-19-07, 04:59 PM
The Grand Tours think there are too many PT teams already. Thats why Unibet was the odd man out. Originally there were supposed to be 18 PT teams which left the Grand Tours 4 wild cards of their choosing. Naturally they would choose to give those spots to teams from their own country. The UCI created an 'extra' spot for Unibet and the GT's objected vehemently. Without wildcards The Vuleta can't invite small Spanish teams that base their whole sponsorship on Vuelta exposure. Instead they have to invite a PT team like Bouyges-Telecom that has no business interest whatsoever in Spain.
I think the PT system creates too big a gulf between the haves and the have nots.
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