New UCI president says alternative series not way to go — Bloomberg
Bloomberg wire service reported Tuesday that new UCI president Brian Cookson is cool on ideas to create a new “breakaway cycling league.”
Cookson told Bloomberg that efforts to create a parallel racing league beyond the existing calendar, with lucrative TV rights being shared with teams, does not come at a good moment for the sport, which continues to reel from fallout from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and allegations of wrongdoing at the sport’s global governing body.
“Imposing a new league isn’t the right way forward,” Cookson told Bloomberg. “The heritage of cycling is very important. You could have, say, a race from Paris to Lyon, but it wouldn’t be as exciting as Paris-Roubaix.”
It’s one area where Cookson agreed with former president Pat McQuaid, whom he ousted in a dramatic September election in Florence, Italy.
Bloomberg reported that officials from British Sky Broadcasting Group met with representatives from a dozen teams last February in Geneva, Switzerland, to explore possibilities of a series of 10 races on four continents. Omega Pharma-Quick Step owner and Czech billionaire Zdenek Bakala was also on board.
Most intriguing to teams were plans to share TV revenues among the participating squads. Under cycling’s existing business model, TV rights are kept in the hands of race organizers, while teams must search out sponsors to underwrite their operating budgets. Two major teams — Euskaltel-Euskadi and Vacansoleil-DCM — and other squads folded this season after being unable to find new sponsors.
Cookson said the UCI is still in contact with BSkyB, and admitted the cycling governing is looking for creative ways to find new funding sources for the sport.
“We have to find ways of giving the teams a more sustainable economic situation, otherwise we’ll go into a spiral decline,” Cookson said.