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Commentary: Building a cycling union, straight from Miller’s mouth

Motivated by results

When discussing the organization of baseball players and the ensuing baseball business model revolution as an analog for pro cycling, Miller brings up a telling point: athletes are profoundly motivated by results. Seeing the tangible results of the Topps standoff and subsequent negotiations, the players became more convinced of the efficacy of organization. “They could see the results,” Miller recollects. “And results are important.”

In 1965, baseball, like pro cycling today, stumbled along with a lopsided business structure that benefited organizers but not performers. And in 1965, both the baseball team owners and the league’s commissioner cried that changing it would end the sport for good.

“I’m telling you, it came about rapidly,” Miller says of the reforms that took place once the players showed some muscle. “Before I’d been there six months.”

If today’s pro riders asked Miller to help them organize, how would he start? By repeating what he did with baseball players, he says.

“We got to have some understanding of how [the business] works and then we got to have unity in the ranks and we’ve got to be determined. And at times we have to be willing to make temporary sacrifices because the gains to be made are tremendous,” he says. “That’s where you begin.”

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