Arguably the most significant agreement yet for the Velon organisation has been announced, with the first-ever collective race collaboration between an organiser and teams confirmed under a three-year deal.
The Velon group – which comprises 11 shareholding WorldTour teams – and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) have inked a partnership in relation to the new Abu Dhabi Tour and the connected UCI Cycling Gala awards ceremony.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Velon teams will commit to the race for three years, starting this October.
The news is a significant boost for both sides. The race organiser has the backing of 11 out of 17 of the biggest teams in cycling and will also have Velon’s support to promote the race.
In turn, Velon will benefit from a new revenue-sharing model.
One of its fundamental aims has been to change the financial model of cycling from one which is currently solely reliant on team/sponsor agreements. Team owners have long argued that this creates a constant struggle to attract and retain sufficient funding, creates uncertainty and forces teams to stop if new backers are now found. This in turn prevents the growth of the sport.
The new agreement appears to help in that regard, beginning what could be a potential new revenue stream. As a result, Velon describes the partnership as ‘a significant step change for the economics of the sport.’
It is thought to be the first time that the top teams in the sport will have a share in the profits of a cycling event.
“This is a new race with big plans and Velon is delighted to be part of it,” stated Velon CEO Graham Bartlett. “We’ve partnered with other race organisers in the past but this agreement is wider ranging then anything before. Our shareholders formed Velon for it to make these kind of partnerships.”
The agreement means that teams will benefit financially from the success of the event. The organisers gain too: their backing and the participation of their top riders means that the new race has a strong chance of being a successful one.
The current Velon teams are BMC Racing Team, Etixx – Quick-Step, Lampre – Merida, Lotto Soudal, Orica GreenEDGE, Cannondale – Garmin, Team Giant – Alpecin, Team Lotto NL – Jumbo, Team Sky, Tinkoff – Saxo and Trek Factory Racing.
At least two others are understood to have informal agreements with the group, but have not yet become official members.
Velon has become known for featuring on-bike camera footage from within the bunch. The medium-term aim is to utilise technology to enable this to be broadcast live, thus offering an additional development to the existing race broadcasters’ coverage.
“A great race needs great characters and working with Velon guarantees their presence,” stated the General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Aref Hamad Al Awani.
“Moreover, this WorldTour teams venture is clearly showing its focus on innovation and 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.”
The first Abu Dhabi Tour will take place this year from October 8 to 11. A total of 18 teams will take part over four stages. Three of these will be flat with one mountain leg, and the final stage will take place in twilight.
The 2.1-ranked event will be followed by the new UCI Cycling Gala season-end awards. This has increased speculation that that race could potentially become a WorldTour event in the future.