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Landmark deal means top riders for Abu Dhabi Tour

A first-of-its-kind agreement between Velon and organizers of the Abu Dhabi Tour will bring top riders to the race, offer revenue share.

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Many of the world’s top teams and riders are guaranteed to take the start at the new Abu Dhabi Tour for the next three years thanks to a first-of-its-kind agreement between the race organizer and Velon, a commercial coalition of 11 WorldTour teams.

The deal is the first to both guarantee the presence of high-profile riders and to provide a joint revenue-sharing model between Velon teams and a race organizer, in this case Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC).

The inaugural four-day Abu Dhabi Tour sets off from Qasr al Sarab on October 8 and includes three stages for sprinters and one major uphill finish on stage 3. It is promoted by Giro d’Italia owner RCS Sport.

Velon has struck deals with cycling’s major stakeholders in the past, including media deals with RCS, Tour de France organizer ASO, and action sports company GoPro. But the Abu Dhabi deal marks the first time it has effectively leveraged its own assets — 11 WorldTour teams and their star riders — for a deal that will see direct financial benefit for its members.

“The revenue share is significant in that it changes the model of how the race works with the teams,” Velon CEO Graham Bartlett said. “We’re partners in its success. Financially, as I’m sure you know, new races take time to generate good revenue, so for us it’s not just the amount it brings in but more the long-term partnership it represents.”

“A great race needs great characters and Velon guarantees their presence,” said Mr. Aref Hamad Al Awani, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

“Moreover this pro cycling teams venture is showing clearly its focus on innovation. It’s exactly what we want: The Abu Dhabi Tour looks to the future, and we’re proud to collaborate on the technological development of cycling.”

Velon will also help ADSC promote its race, presumably through both its own channels and those of its 11 member teams.

While the revenue gained from the Abu Dhabi Tour is not, in and of itself, a game changer for teams, it is an important step toward more stable economics.