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Big Mat Bails Out

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Big Mat Bails Out

Old 06-27-02, 07:01 AM
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Big Mat Bails Out

dum, dum, dum . . . another one bites the dust. And another ones gone and another ones gone, another one bites the dust.

You know, pro racing may be better next year as the remaining teams become stronger, less dilution of talent. Perhaps it will be better for pro cycling to have 25 stronger teams than 30 lesser ones. Also, there would be less dilution of the advertising dollar (euro, yen, etc.) as fewer sponsors fight it out for TV time.

Do the bottom 5 division I teams really add that much to the sport? (I realize Mapei is #1, but their best riders will be absorbed into other teams, making them stronger).

Just playing devil's advocate.
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Old 06-27-02, 07:21 AM
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I don't know. I predict that Kelme will be out of it
by the end of the year also (based on what I've been
reading). I don't know if this is good for the sport or what.
But if you think about it where are the teams from 10, 15 years
ago? La Vie Claire? Molteni (ok, more than 15 yrs), Motorola?
the sponsors drop out and the team either gets absorbed by
another or another sponsor shows up.
well if we get down low enough everyone will be guarenteed
a spot in the TdF

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Old 06-27-02, 09:21 AM
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It's a huge problem and less sponsorship means less exposure for the sport and tougher for cyclists to get work. It makes things less competitive and weakens the "grassroots" growth of the sport.
The reason some sponsors are leaving also hurts the sport and future of the sport. It also damages the credibility of cycle racing.

Fassa Bortolo has even threatened to stop sponsorship. Would you want world cycling to be in the same condition as Italian Cycling right now? Mama mia!
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Old 06-27-02, 09:33 AM
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Originally posted by lotek
well if we get down low enough everyone will be guarenteed
a spot in the TdF Marty
If you're French.
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Old 06-27-02, 12:55 PM
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We should start a dead pool...

This kind of contraction has happened before, when a whole lot of sponsors disappear oin a short period. It happened in 1963, 1972 and 1994.

I don't think Saeco will be back next year [Cannondale has been making noise about bailing] and I think that has less to do with Simoni's extra-curricular activities than you might think. Mercatone-Uno is almost certainly gone and I doubt Pantani will be able to scare up a new sponsor. Bonjour is almost certainly gone and Jean Delatour are rumoured to be planning an withdrawal announcement after the Tour. CSC is reportedly having trouble finding tertiary sponsors, and Lotto-Domo is looking like a probability. Fassa Bortolo will be problematic without Casagrande, and Coast has said that its team sponsorship is dependent on participation in the TdF...

There are going to be a whole lot of out-of-work racers out there. It will be good for the kermesse and crit circuit, but not for the sport as a whole. Teams like Mapei put a LOT of effort into development and maintain development teams. Without that, there could be no feeder system for neo-pros.

A dark day.

I'm not sure about the bottom FIVE teams, but they aren't the only ones folding. A lot of the top teams are in similar straits. The bottom ten are:

BONJOUR
SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFÈ
EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI
INDEX ALEXIA
JEAN DELATOUR
AG2R PREVOYANCE
CREDIT AGRICOLE
MILANEZA - MSS
BIGMAT.AUBER 93
MERCATONE UNO

I don't think Uno would be missed, nor Bigmat. But Bonjour has been a gritty team and Saeco, despite its troubles, has promise. Index is healthy, particularly after the Giro this year. Of the group, the loss of Euskatel and CA would be the most unfortunate. The former is largely fan-supported, so it's probably likely, though. CA, however, operates one of the most important TT3 development squads. It would be a big loss.
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Old 06-27-02, 01:12 PM
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Hopefully, the out-of-work racers would the marginal ones, though I understand that's not always the case. Ideally, fewer teams would provide better races as the teams are deeper and talent is less diluted.

The out-of-work division I racers would either leave the sport (probably the older ones), but the young guns would drift down to division II, and, maybe to the north american teams.

With fewer division I teams, other sponsors may come in at the less expensive division II level to fill the void.

However, even if the developmental squads are reduced with division I, the majority of the up-and-coming talent will make it through the system. Competition at the lower levels will be stiffer, so the young talent will more seasoned.

The real issue is that there will be less athletes making a living racing bikes, but the quality of the racing might be better because of it.
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Old 06-27-02, 02:18 PM
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Woody... I'm not convinced it would work out that way. There are a whole lot of racers making big salaries [more than, say, $60,000/annum] who would not be able to find paying work on ANY team. A lot of the TT2 and most of the TT3 teams pay one or two of their big names anything resembling a real salary. Most of the guys on Team Elk or Team Jura are glorified amateurs who hold down real full-time jobs. That means a whole lot of talent will be flipping burgers for a living. CAdel Evans might get work, but what aboutr Dario Cioni or Miguel Martinez? I'm sure Stephane Heulot and Patrice Halgand might be able to land a contract with Marlux or St-Quentin-Oktos, but what about Jeremy Hunt and Aitor Kintana?

Cycling, unlike Hockey and Baseball, doesn't actually have too many teams. The problems is that there are too few teams for the amount of talent. Angel Casero was almost left unsigned, Levi Leipheimer came close too, and Felix Cardenas was actually forced into a temporary retirement.

As for the neos on the development teams, how are they supposed to work their way through the system? Cycling, even at the amateur and pro-am levels is largely sponsor funded in Europe. The Netherlands has an enviable junior and espoirs feeder system not because of the government, but because of the efforts of Rabobank. If Rabobank withdrew its sponsorship, there would be no Dutch development. None.

Bike racing costs money, and there are few opportunities to make any direct revenues outside of the velodrome. Unless there are sponsors at all levels willing to support teams for juniors, espoirs, pros and whatnot, the sport will fall apart... just look at mountain biking. If the sponsors of the big teams withdraw, the financial demands on the sponsors of the remaining teams will have to increase to keep the races running; if that happens, a lot of them will probably pull out... and so on down the line.

I'm sure cycling will recover in a few years [it always has], but I think the sport is in for some very tough times.
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