The Americans stress: the cycling team is not a profitable business

The Americans stress: the cycling team is not a profitable business


A well-known entrepreneur with a big heart for cycling messaged me on Whatsapp last week: “If you want to make some money, you shouldn’t go cycling.” He reacted to rumors in ‘peloton radio’ that Patrick Lefevre would actively sell his cycling team. Later, the Flemish team’s manager himself downplayed the noise surrounding the sale: “For years, parties supposedly interested in reporting have been reporting, but they all drop out”.

Multiple sources cycling flash He noted that Los Angeles-based sports, music and entertainment marketing agency Wasserman Media Group recently investigated whether acquiring a cycling team would be profitable. According to Forbes, this agency is good for close to nine billion euros in contracts. Wasserman will be the American party with an indirect interest in the Lefevere team.

However, Wasserman’s search for a world class team was short lived. “They looked at the number of the cycling team and came to the conclusion that it couldn’t be a profitable business,” someone with ties to Wasserman’s management told us.

Wasserman is one of the giants in the global sports business. It is active in 23 countries and has the best players from various sports such as football, National Basketball Association, swimming, golf and boxing. Owner Casey Wasserman is also the President of the Olympic Committee for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

On 15 June, it was announced that Wassermann had taken over Belgian Squadra Sports Management. Founder and CEO Dries Smets is one of the most important brokers in the cycling world and has many top international cyclists in his portfolio. Bringing the passenger bag from Squadra Sports fits into Wasserman’s strategy of gaining a foothold in the cycling world. Earlier this year, it had already issued several million to prepare the Circuit Racing International (CRIT) tour. With such a regular benchmark for cycling in America, Wasserman wants to secure the future of cycling in America’s decline.

Patrick Lefevre. Photo: Cor Vos

With Smets and his staff’s proven knowledge of cycling, Wasserman hopes to take more steps in cycling. A positive development for professional cycling because Wasserman is known for striking very lucrative business sponsorship deals and marketing activities.

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After a short analysis, Americans don’t see the value of a cycling team at Tour de France level right now. Lefevere also quashed all rumors that he was serious about selling his team. In an interview with latest news He said that 80% of the shares of Sodal Kwik-Step are owned by billionaire Zdenek Pakala. “For Bakala, the cycling team is also part of his masterpiece. He is really not interested in selling,” said Lefebvre.

And he stresses again that cycling teams, even at the highest levels, are essentially “toys” for some people. The late Andy Reese was one of the first to take up this “hobby” with ex-BMC Phonak and BMC plows.

Other celebrities are Oleg Tinkoff (Tinkoff-Saxo Team), Sylvain Adams (Israel – Premier Tech), Zdenek Bakala (Soudal-Quick Step), Jim Ratcliffe (INEOS Grenadiers) and even the Bahraini Emir (triathlete and cyclist) Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa ( Muntasir Bahrain) who have invested several million in a world class team out of their passion for cycling.

Richard Plug – Photo: Cor Vos

The cycling team’s economic model is still 95 percent dependent on sponsor money. There are hardly any other sources of income, so their future is often uncertain. Relying on sponsors is simply too much. Lefevere has been raising a great team for decades, but it always has a hard time going above and beyond its budget.

Richard Plugge now has the best team of the peloton with Jumbo-Visma. Now that Jumbo Supermarkets has announced that it will stop sponsoring the team after 2024, new international lenders should already be lining up. There is a lot of interest out there, but the only party that really wants to invest tens of millions of euros in the successful cycling scheme has yet to be found.

Jumbo Visma – Photo: Cor Vos

Going back in history, the team chiefs were very excited in 2004 at the launch of the ProTour by then UCI president Hein Verbruggen. Their license in this new closed circuit is suddenly worth a lot of money. If you wanted to participate in major competitions, you had to obtain a license for one of these teams. However, the Tour de France ASO organizer pulled out after many discussions because they didn’t like the closed circuit.

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It’s kind of always an ASO tactic. They are always willing to talk. They stay on the table with enthusiasm for a long time. But when it really comes down to it, they pull out at the high moment. With this “play” they are several more years at a time. In the next episode new people are thrown from the teams and the UCI and ASO play this game again with new people at the table. In this way, their position of power is maintained for decades. Sometimes they give some “pennies” to the teams to keep them quiet again. Le Fric by Alex Duff provides a fascinating insight into the history, politics and economics of cycling’s most powerful party.

In the past two years, two rounds of negotiations have shown how limited the difference economy is and how strong ASO remains. In the distribution of funds for the Netflix series ‘Tour de France: Unchained’, the ratio with the eight participating teams was: €50,000 each, €500,000 for ASO and €500,000 for TV France. A series that wasn’t very successful, but nonetheless Netflix will continue with it during the Tour de France.

Read also:

Patrick Lefevre responds to Soudal Quick-Step sale rumors

This year, teams participating in the opening of a radio communication between team managers and their eight riders for live television will receive a tip of €5,000 per team via ASO and France Television. Partly for this reason, five teams didn’t want to get involved in this: Groupama-FDJ, Cofidis, Movistar, Jayco-AlUla in Alpecin-Deceuninck.

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This has led to the necessary division within the interest group of the AIGCP teams, with some even speaking of a vote of no confidence. Actually exactly the way the ASO wants it, because the division between the teams strengthens their position in cycling. Although limited amounts of Netflix and “race radios” also make it clear that the cycling team is not yet a profitable business.

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