Reaction: riders, teams hail creation of Velon group, which is pushing for a bigger future for the sport
The official launch of the Velon collaboration of top pro teams has been endorsed by some of the top riders in the world, with competitors such as Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Marcel Kittel, John Degenkolb and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), Robert Gesink and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin Pro Cycling) giving their support and explaining why they believe it is a plus for their teams and the sport in general.
Eleven teams have been named as being part of the group, namely 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.
Many of those issued their reactions at the same time as the official announcement. Gerrans was one of the riders who spoke and explained how it should improve cycling.
“It’s great news for cycling that teams are coming together like this. This is a major step that will help in shaping the future of the sport in a way that will benefit the teams, the riders and definitely also the fans,” he said.
He pointed to Orica-GreenEdge’s Backstage Pass videos as an example of what can be done.
“As a team we have always tried to set the bar high when it comes to creating excitement around the races. Now we can do that in a group that will help us all to boost the sport even more. The on-bike footage was the perfect way to kick-start this project and we are all looking forward to seeing more initiatives like that”
Degenkolb pointed to the same on-board cameras as one improvement Velon’s early and un-launched incarnation, Project Avignon, brought about.
“The magnitude of positive reactions after my in-race footage show how valuable it can be to involve the fans closely in our great sport,” he said. “Therefore, it is really satisfying to see that teams are working so closely together to advance the sport of cycling.”
Team-mate Kittel described the cooperation of a large group of teams as something he saw as being ‘really positive.’
In the past teams had tried to push for changes in certain areas, but other powerful groups such as the UCI and ASO were able to break up the unity by giving concessions to some individual teams.
This time around, Velon will seek to work in unity with over half the WorldTour teams.
“It is really positive to see that teams are working so closely together to advance the sport of cycling,” Kittel said. “By closely involving the fans in an open environment, our sport will be able to work further on their credibility and long-term future.”
As for Cavendish, he sees clear benefits if things go to plan. “It will be important to make our sport even better, more understandable, and more marketable for people outside the cycling world,” he stated.
“I believe that this kind of project is important to enlarge our fan base and to increase the awareness of our sport internationally, using, for example, technology as we show in the recent past with on board bike cameras.”
Team-mate Boonen said that creating greater stability for teams was crucial in giving a secure environment to the new generation of riders. He said that this environment would allow those competitors to “develop into the stars of the future. It is exciting to see so many teams now working together to do just that.”
Other reactions from riders and teams are as follows:
Wilco Kelderman (Belkin Pro Cycling):
“It’s a great initiative to have a transparent and attractive sport for the fans and stakeholders. As a team we have tried to give cycling back to the fans and create an upbeat future over the last few years. Now we can share with several World Tour teams the knowledge to take the next steps. I have given the fans an insight on Strava during the Giro, but now we can work on greater initiatives.”
Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team):
“Velon is a great way for teams to help cycling fans get closer to the sport they love. It will lead to new technology and create even more exciting racing. Cycling has also needed a way for teams to work together, like they do in other mainstream sports. This is a tremendous first step.”
André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol):
“Cycling has evolved a lot in past decades, technically for example. Nonetheless it’s important that the sport evolves structurally as well. Much has been told and written about the credibility of the sport, but offering the fan a permanently fascinating sport, raising the attractiveness to get companies interested and take into account the circumstances in which the riders – around whom it revolves – have to perform, are issues that will determine the future of cycling. That the teams are therefore united in Velon, is a good thing.”
Tom Dumoulin (Team Giant-Shimano):
“By making the sport of cycling more accessible and easier to understand for the big crowd, it will be able to reach and activate even more fans around the world. The fact that teams are able to work closely together on this concept makes it even stronger!”
Team managers, owners and CEOS:
BMC Racing Team – Jim Ochowicz:
“A group of like-minded teams have been talking for some time about how to better shape the future of the sport. We’ve already made a difference, giving fans better insights and exciting views from inside the race. Now, we’ve formally come together to help develop ways for professional cycling to grow, for the benefit of those already involved and the growing number of those who want to get more deeply involved in this great sport.”
Garmin-Sharp – Jonathan Vaughters:
“There has been a group of teams collaborating for some time about how we can – by working together – shape the future of the sport. 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.”
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step – Bessel Kok:
“Being the main actors of the sport, this is an excellent achievement for our professional cycling teams to unify and work together in a common way, to defend and mutually increase their commercial interests in the sport… This new commercial structure will allow the teams to develop a range of commercial activities and create additional revenue streams other than traditional sponsorship.”
Orica-GreenEDGE – Gerry Ryan:
“This initiative is a real milestone in the development of professional cycling. The teams are coming together to make the sport more attractive as a business by creating new ways for the fans to enjoy all the excitement it has to offer. It is key that the teams take this step together to help the long term strategy of cycling for everyone involved. As a team owner I’m pleased to see that this has now materialised with visible benefits for the sponsors, fans and all the other stakeholders in the sport. We are happy to make a very active contribution to this group.”
Team Sky – Sir Dave Brailsford:
“Collaboration is the cornerstone to positive change and as such this is very exciting for professional cycling and a big step towards the sport reaching its full potential. The teams involved in creating Velon have come together with a powerful shared vision to optimise the sport and develop new ways for professional cycling to grow. If the teams unite and work collectively with other key stakeholders to make cycling better to watch, easier to understand and get guaranteed commercial support it’s to everyone’s benefit and will encourage even more fans to follow the sport we love.”
Tinkoff-Saxo – Stefano Feltrin:
“The will and desire to change is clear from the work we have been doing for more than the past year with the other teams who are part of Velon. Together with the excellent collaborative spirit of all the founding teams, and the use of a commercial joint venture into which the teams have transferred valuable intellectual property, we have the right ingredients to create lasting change for the benefit of fans, riders, teams and other stakeholders in our sport.”
Trek Factory Racing – Luca Guercilena:
“The teams share a series of priorities to bring to the table of professional cycling. All eleven Velon teams believe a strong commercial entity representing them is essential to develop cycling. The optimism for the future of our sport in the group is telling. Trek Factory Racing is happy and proud to be a part of this project.”