Cycling teams association launches with new name and CEO

25 November 2014 | Posted in Notes & Insights | By James Emmett | Contact the author

Cycling teams association launches with new name and CEO

Graham Bartlett has been appointed as the chief executive of Velon, a new joint venture comprising 11 of the 18 teams in cycling's top-level UCI WorldTour.

The group has been taking shape for around a year but was launched this week, essentially as a teams association in top level professional cycling.

Chief executive Bartlett, a former Uefa, Nike, and Liverpool FC executive, will work on behalf of the group on new business creation, with the aim of providing a more stable financial model in professional cycling.

Velon is comprised of Belkin Pro Cycling, BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Team Giant-Shimano, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing.

Notable absentees from the group include Astana, which won the Tour de France with Vincenzo Nibali this year, Movistar, which won the Giro d'Italia with Nairo Quintana, Katusha, and Francaise des Jeux.

In a release announcing the creation of the group, Velon set out its core objectives as creating more exciting sport; introducing new technology; and transforming teams into sustainable and credible entities.

"The existing, sponsor-only business model is fragile for all teams," explained Bartlett, who spent six years at Nike, where he was marketing director for the UK and Ireland, before spending just under a year as commercial director at Liverpool FC. 

"We need to change this to a more rounded one with fans at the heart of it, investing in new technological initiatives to generate greater excitement from the races and bring the sport closer to its fans. The company will look to use the combined commitment of the teams to create new revenues."

The release also pointed to work already undertaken this year by the group towards its objectives, bringing in on-bike cameras for several races throughout 2014.

"This could only have been negotiated and delivered with the organisers by having a unified group," explained Bartlett. "Initially co-operating with IMG for the Tour de Suisse and then continuing with ASO at the Tour de France, the Vuelta and a number of other big races in the calendar."

In a co-ordinated, public-facing show of solidarity, representatives from all 11 Velon teams were quoted in the release.

“There has been a group of teams collaborating for some time about how we can - by working together - shape the future of the sport," said Garmin-Sharp team principal Jonathan Vaughters.

"Facilitating the use of on-bike cameras during racing was our first major step and now, as a formal cooperative, we will be able to continue to create even more opportunities to grow this great sport and make it more accessible to our fans.”

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