Bruyneelism Pt. 3

Johan on the sport of professional cycling as a business and of the UCI; I tend to agree with him on this.

"I think professional sports have reached a level that has come to the point of sporting events being a business. And I see that cycling is quite a bit behind, compared to other successful sports, and that’s probably due to the nature of our sport. We have certain limitations: we don’t own stadiums, we run cycling on the road, cycling is for free, which is also the beauty of the sport. But if I look at the evolution of other sports, and how popular they are, and I look at cycling and see how we are struggling, that we are advancing by baby steps and struggling, I think there are other ways professional cycling can be organised.

I’m not talking about breaking away; a breakaway league is something that was named by the UCI itself. But I think there should definitely be talks about new initiatives and implicating all the main parties. Just now it’s basically one organisation dictating everything, and everybody has to follow everything they say. So, if it was up to me, I’d like to see these things change, but I’m just me so it will probably never happen. It’s very simple, I’m talking from my perspective and about “professional” cycling. Let’s specify that because cycling as a whole is very complex and there are a lot of different categories and other disciplines. There is BMX, woman’s cycling, there’s all kinds of cycling. But professional road cycling is something that should be seen as a separate entity within the UCI. I think the UCI is definitely an organisation that has shown that they are the organising body that can rule the sport, so they should rule professional cycling.

The business aspect of the sport should be done differently. There are a lot of different ideas about that, but it’s very simple. If you see how we are struggling to find sponsorship year after year and how we are being challenged about renewing sponsors, it’s because at the end what do we have to offer? We don’t have a lot more to offer than what’s on the calendar, races like the Tour de France is all very good, but it could be a lot better. I think we should start to see professional teams as franchises that can survive for a lot of year like you have in football. You have (I know more about Spanish football) Madrid, Barcelona and all those strong clubs around Europe. "

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