Team buses lined up at the start of stage 15 in Bourg-en-Bresse
  • Gary Alman

    Can success be bought. Yes, but that’s the
    same for most pro sports. Unlike others though cycling has a very strong connection between the two. As can be seen with Sky in terms of how quickly success has come to the team. Other sports, even with money, it takes much longer to get to be the top team. Think Man City in Football or Red Bull in F1. Both had big budgets but took many years to gain success. But the same as other Sports big budgets does not guarantee success as can be seen by the Katusha budget and their relative poor performance.

    • Snake

      Toyota F1 and BAR threw immense sums of money into F1. Neither team won a grand-prix in their time competing in the F1 series. Toyota 2002-2009 and BAR 1999-2005. Red Bull F1 took 5 years before they were number 1. I’d say great management of the funds that are made available to Team Sky and the sole target focusing of races has certainly accelerated the process to success. The dollars have also brought in the best riders who have been paid well to support their G.C riders or Classic campaigns.

  • Cam

    Slightly off topic, but the prize money in cycling is quite laughable, 1 million Euro across the whole TdF event. The total prize pool at the Australian Open is $44 million and there are three other Grand Slam tournaments with the same prize pool. The business model for cycling seems highly flawed and totally susceptible to sponsors commitments.

    • Keep in mind that cyclists also get a salary on top of prize money. Those tdf winnings are split within the team usually. In tennis, it’s win to get paid. But yes, the prize money is much more in mainstream sports.

      • Jason Kruse

        This is interesting to see. some great guidelines in there.

      • Very interesting. I assume their “team dress code” accounts for all the podium baseball caps.

    • Gary Alman

      And the Aussie open can generate prize money from charging spectators and for TV rights. The tour cannot really charge spectators and chooses to keep the event on free to air TV.

    • jules

      Tennis is watched by fans everywhere. It’s a highly accessible sport. The ATP has also concealed doping and corruption from fans, which has maximised its marketing value. Interesting to see if that lasts.

      • Dave

        It used to work for cycling, before the UCI was shamed into pretending they cared.

  • Mickey McMook

    Maybe Katusha should have doped more at Le Tour? At least Purito’s brilliant last-gasp attack on Joux Plane saved their Tour, as Zakarin’s Tour stage win is till not credibile; his doping performances AFTER his suspension were what caused him to be excluded from the Rio Olympics. Plus L’Equipe’s info on team budget for the Russkies is inflated; Makarov reduced their budget considerably (to 20 mil euro) after 2015 season.

    • Patrick Murphy

      You really need to move on.

      • Mickey McMook

        I do? Where?

    • raystrach

      if you are going to accuse someone of doping, the least you could do is to check your facts.

      • Mickey McMook

        March 2009 Christian Pfannberger-positive EPO
        April 2009 Antonio Colom-positive EPO
        2011 Padova doping investigation linked to Michele Ferrari.
        Katusha riders: Vladimir Gusev, Mikhail Ignatiev, Vladimir Karpets and Alexandr Kolobnev
        July 2011 Kolobnev positive for Hydrochlorothiazide (HCT)
        April 2012 Denis Galimzyanov-positive for EPO
        July 2015 Luca Paolini positive cocaine
        Aug 2015 Giampaolo Caruso EPO positive from a sample taken in March 2012
        February 2016 Eduard Vorganov positive-Meldonium

        how are those facts?

  • VerticallyCompliant

    Very hard to judge success over just one season in drug free (I’m a glass half full guy) cycling world. Katusha under performed this year but Kristoff could easily be this years Sagan and transform a year of top fives into gold next July. Rarely do the top guys back up a season of dominance anymore.
    Will be interesting though to see who they sign to replace Rodrigues next season.

    • Patrick Murphy

      Will they look to replace him or do they feel Zakarin is the heir to his throne?

      • Lisavwinder

        <<o. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????:::::::!!bt224p:….,.

    • Mickey McMook

      You are kidding, right? “Drug Free cycling world”?

      • VerticallyCompliant

        Should have said relatively free based on the past or at least only drugged to an accepted threshold. But based my comment on the fact riders now seem to have believable peaks and troughs of form.
        Except for Froome, the tour can’t be won back to back. It seams getting to and riding at such a high level takes so much out of an athlete they have a flat year the next season. And even Froome doesn’t just dominate all year. He has a couple of races he arrives fresh at and wins those.

  • Arsimo

    Nice calculations. Just for correction, the budget of Lotto-Jumbo is not €14M. This is the yearly combined budget of the Lotto-Jumbo cycling team and the Lotto-Jumbo speed skating team (very populair in the Netherlands). Approx €10.5M is the budget for the cycling team alone. So their succes rate is much better than concluded in the comparisons here. After a correction they probably don’t belong to the “standout losers”.

  • professorvelo

    I would posit the ‘best’ of anything available for purchase can be bought, but the synergistic output of those purchases cannot. Success cannot be ensured simply by buying – although what you may get is a greater probability of success. What winning teams need is chemistry, belief and focus none of which can be bought. In the end you need a team to be able to rally around a leader, be flexible enough to make the most out of opportunities when Plan A fails and have healthy, supportive team dynamics.

    OBE is one of the best in this case as is Dimension Data (personally, I wasn’t sure how Cavendish would fare, but for Cav winning is the greatest guarantor of happiness regardless of team). Clearly Katusha was suffering this year from a public rift – poor team chemistry. Teams like Cannondale have suffered less from budget woes than unfortunate mergers and a loss of identity over the past few seasons. Trek is always full of talent, but never seem to have a focus. Still others simply underperform until the right pressure is applied. IAM cycling didn’t start winning util the sponsor pulled the plug. Unfortunate that it had to come to that, but it shows that results are tied to factors beyond raw budget numbers.

  • Steve

    sky publish their budget every year, last year £24m/€29m, doubt it grew by €6m this year somehow.

  • racyrich

    Surely team sponsorship is sold on the basis of media exposure. Time of the jersey spent on screen and mentions in the press are what matters, and are supposedly monetised, eg the AG2R name was on the screen for an hour as so-and-so was in the break, and x million people saw that, so that equates to y thousands of advertising spend. Appearances on the podium count far more as far more people see it on the news and highlights clips.
    Are any of the sales pitch brochures that the teams must produce at sponsor-seeking time available? These would contain the expected media exposure.
    Of course Sky has a bit of a headstart on the media exposure front!

  • Max Smith

    I disagree with the article. It might have been better titled does Team Sky spend its large budget well and does it succeed. That answer is a resounding yes.
    On the other hand Katusha and BMC are clearly not spending their ‘also very large budgets’ particularly well based on the metrics shown. Relatively , they aren’t buying much success at all.

    • The slope of the linear regression line trends upwards. So while not all teams are able to buy success, in most cases the more money spent, more wins are the end result.

    • jules

      Wladimir, CT has measured our value for money from Katusha team budget and the results are poor.

      Alexei, maybe we could return the money to Russian citizens that we took the oil and gas from originally.

      (Much laughter)

  • You mention that the correlation of money and wins is simplistic – but it’s a fair enough approach to make some assessment.

    I’d love a piece looking at different ways that sponsors feel they get value for their dollar/euro/Swiss franc. I seem to recall Gerald Vroomen had some different angles he applied when thinking through Cervelo Test Team. Could you interview him on being and helping a sponsor?

  • raystrach

    whilst the idea of this article is interesting and valid, i think it is impossible to draw conclusions on one season or one race.

    also, is it worthwhile looking at things like time spent in break aways, the attacking nature of riders on the team, and other thiings which get screen time and column inches.

    also, back luck tends to even itself out over time, so i encourage the author to look back say, over the last 5 years which would give us a better picture of the success or otherwise compared to team budgets

  • OverIt

    Of course success can be bought, otherwise “professional” or “paid” sport wouldn’t exist. This article is interesting, but perhaps the title should have been “How Success Is Bought…” :)

  • Andy B

    Cycling has so many factors that need to come together to succeed, you don’t just simply show us as the strongest on the day and win
    I think you can buy a better chance at winning but everything still needs to come together

    Money helps for sure, it can get you the best across the board, not just cyclists but all aspects of the team, having the chance to do that is always going to give you an edge.. Being sponsored by Sky i’m sure they see the value in the biggest race and the promotion that comes with it, they haven’t been able to simply buy success across all races, I guess it can come down to what type of race/image the sponsors want from the team.
    Sky clearly want to be the best on the biggest stage, to others that have been in the sport longer they may want classics wins etc and aren’t in it purely for the most press in July..

  • Neil Leonard

    Good article. Well done, Wade.

  • Michele Graham

    Does the OBE budget cover their women’s team too?
    How many other WT teams field a women’s team?

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