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Doctor Tinkov Has The Cure...

Wastes no time sticking the boot in to Riis in his sermon from the mount...

Oleg Tinkov
Here is my statement: World cycling has to change... or die, or maybe just lurch from scandal to scandal for another decade as we watch teams come and go. That is today's situation, where teams do not have income, just huge expense that would be unthinkable in other professional sports. Teams depend on sponsorship for 99% of their revenue and this model is neither viable nor durable. This is the origin of the doping, the endless scandals and the whole 'grey tinge' of this wonderful sport. The paradox is that cycling is the world's second most popular spectator sport, after football, but at the same time it is the poorest sport.

Why is this happening? I will try to analyse the problem funnel.

This is how the chain should look ideally:
- income (from television and participation in races) for teams
- race organisers receive MORE from TV channels
- TV channels get more viewers and more demand
- races are an interesting show - this is entertainment
- a cycling star academy should be created and we should work on increasing viewing figures (see experience of Formula 1)
- ALL!!! stars should participate in these races (here we should look to the experience of Tennis)

Of course, you could look at this funnel from the bottom up. People obviously need to watch the races rather than sleeping during siesta time in Continental Europe:-).

We need to find a way to get them interested during long and boring stages. We probably need to make them shorter or start to show them later, when there is a final battle.

We need to make races more interesting and think-up new ones. As an idea: GP Monaco on Saturday before the motor racing, and sell seats in rows that are already set up. But it is important that the best sprinters come for this kind of event - the best mountain racers should go to all the grand tours. That is why I proposed the 'Three Grand Tour Challenge' which provoked such a heated discussion - which made me very happy! If you want to have a real show, you need to have the very best competing against the very best. We definitely need to reduce the number of races - noone is interested in these provincial races that get no TV coverage. Here I am talking about World Tour teams - I think that teams with lower status can participate in those more local events and so they do have a place in the sport.

Again, everything hinges on the idiotic 'ciclismo storico' . I agree with Fabian Canchelara - who needs this tradition of 'do as my grandad did'? Spain, Italy, France, Belgium are all stuck in a 20th Century paradigm - this is an anachronism in the age of the Internet, the iPhone, mass mobility and a broad-based approach to sport and life in general. In those days you really did have to ride your bike without gear changes and a lamp strapped to your forehead. We need to cut the number of races, reduce their duration and make them more viewer-friendly. For example, we could have more 'ring' races around cities, etc.

Cycling has to change. The times of Sainz, Bryneel and Riis are over - they were stuck in the 2000s and that is not necessarily about doping. They just don't get some obvious things and don't know how to manage teams in modern way. Managing a team is not just about issuing instructions from a car radio or about casting a spell over the riders at which Riis was unsurpassed, for example. Managing a team is about boring, monotonous work in the office. The day of the boring and meticulous managers has come - guys like Dave Brailsord and, I hope, our new Director Stefano Feltrin.

Directing the team and its riders from preparation today must be driven by mathematical and statistical analysis and data mining. Sport science is the king now! Today the winner is not the one that trains the most but the one who trains the right way, not the one who injects EPO, but the one with a healthy diet and the one who consumes the right drinks before, after and during lengthy training sessions.

It is for this reason that I am not considering the torrent of offers of 'Riis replacements' that I have been inundated with from all over the globe. We don't need this - this is the old way of thinking and it is no longer viable!

We have some of the best riders in the peloton, we have a superb team of trainers and specialists and, hey, cycling is a team sport - let's not forget that. So I believe in my team - Tinkoff-Saxo and in our team of like-minded professionals! We don't need a star-manager - we are a team of stars of world cycling: Stefano Feltrin, Steve de Jong, Sean Yates, Bobby Julich, Daniel Healey, etc. and together we will make our team into a Super-Team.

But of course if cycling itself doesn't change as I wrote above, then it will be that more difficult. And everything will stay the same as it is now - each man for himself fighting to save his own skin. I call out to all teams to unite to establish new rules of the game, to influence the UCI and race organisers. I realize that this is difficult task, and there needs to be more team-owners rather than former sportsmen who managed to find sponsors and survive, earning their million-a-year.

I believe in my favorite sport and I believe in the dialectic of life too....

Sounds like one-hand clapping to me...

Sadly I think not.  When I first came to England in 1966 and settled in 1970, the actual management and nature of nearly all sports were quite different than they are today (and a bit strange for an immigrant too).  Simple slow process of commodification and "market rules OK" overall view of things, and we are where we are today.  I remember driving past "Reebok Stadium" when it was being built.  Stadium, named after a bloody show!  Now we got what we got.  Its an imperfect reflection of the society it lives in.  Doping, cheating, rich and poor, gangs and crooks and "nice guys" inside cycling, just like outside cycling.  

There really is not much of an audience for the first few hours of most bike races, on TV I mean.  Not very exciting really, although edited highlights on the day would be great.  "How the break was formed"  "Replay and analysis of sprints."  "The prettiest bits."  You could on the spot edit a fine show instead of three hours of brightly coloured (although too much black these days) blokes riding around.  PLUS edited highlights of the women's racing at the same time.  Some of that is really fascinating, and the women have personalities and actually make good races.  I only ever hear interviews with English or French speaking riders, and nearly always they are exactly the same, and boring.  Longer interviews.

THEN the last hour of the race, having drifted back to check on the race during these "features".  

I mean, a lot could change.  In fact what Tinkov is saying in his particular way is "Wake up guys, we can make a lot of money off this!"  Cycling is cool.  

Way fewer cars in the peloton would be good.  Drone cameras, maybe three or four at a time would be cool.  As well as motorcycles and helicopters. Maybe add a few cuts to a camera on the head of a cyclist or two.  A lot of a cycling race IS boring on TV.  But it could change.
Mrs John Murphy

Didn't Vaughters or someone else like that have similar kind of proposals?

Mrs John Murphy wrote:
Didn't Vaughters or someone else like that have similar kind of proposals?

I think you are right.  He is, after all, American.  Just think Money, "catching up" with other sports, globalise, money again, doing "what the TV audience wants", trying to get "a bigger audience" live and TV, but mostly TV.  Live is free.  No money there.

Let in money and things change.  But I still would like drone cameras and some decent features and analysis of replays of sprints for example.  And some serious research to get the pictures out of fog or rain or whatever and onto my TV set!

If Tnkoff gets to call all the shots.....

FF your proposed highlights reel is exactly how the old Phil & Paul shows used to run on Channel 4 in UK... 10 mins feature + what's happened so far, then switch to "live" footage for the last X km.

My view is there is an audience for both. Sporza put on almost all Belgian races, from what? 120-150km out... its because almost everyone is watching those belgian races in Belgium. Whereas the less die hard fan, could probably better find time to watch an hour's show each day to catch up.. similar to Match of The Day or Today At Wimbledon.

Nothing new from Tinkoff though.. so can only guess the reason behind the statement is to push the dagger into Riis and call him out for being a dinosaur!! Smile
mr shifter

Fontfroide wrote:
A lot of a cycling race IS boring on TV.  But it could change.
Oh, we are back to those Idiot cameramen who need some training in photography perhaps with Graham Watson.
80% or more of people will watch a road and the scenery with bike riders on it far longer than looking at the boring pictures we now get.
The cameraman makes it boring with Crash Hats, Ears & Nose, hands on bars, bottom brackets, tyres on tarmac or the riders rear end.
Some of the best pictures come from the guy at the rear of the peloton.
So often I walk away saying "Too Near, Too Far" pictures showing nothing.
Then get that bloody motorbike out of it, when they come in range of the Static cameras.

Can I shoot that TDF lead cameraman, please ??
Mrs John Murphy

I do tend to think the Riis thing is PR rather than OT seeing the light.

IMO lose the race radio and the cycling becomes an exciting spectacle again.  Most of what Oleg says is a sticking plaster to cover the fact that radios have hugely diminished the spectacle to the extent that the last 10km is often all thats worth watching.  That wasn't always the case ...

Bartali wrote:
IMO lose the race radio and the cycling becomes an exciting spectacle again.  Most of what Oleg says is a sticking plaster to cover the fact that radios have hugely diminished the spectacle to the extent that the last 10km is often all thats worth watching.  That wasn't always the case ...


Generally, if not exclusively, the more "interesting" races I've recently seen have been those below WT level, which are the ones without race radios.
A cut in team sizes is the other obvious change, but one rarely hears this mentioned in any restructuring proposals.
Not only would it make races harder to control, making them less predictable and perhaps adding another layer of complexity to tactics etc, it enables more teams to compete in more races, without overly stretching rider resources.

I like what Vayer had to say on Tinkoff's idea for new criterium races.

"Tinkov is ignorant, he should come and see the culture of cycling at Tro Bro Leon with a sausage instead of talking about criteriums in Monaco or Courchevel with Berlusconi's streetwalkers to win the dough."

Obviously +1 on the radios Wink

There is a completely different atmosphere around the races that aren't radio controlled.  Dunquerke has stood out for me in the last couple of years as I race that I get a real kick out of watching live.  Maybe it has coincided with a couple of days off and some Giro time but I was much more inclined to watch proper attacking racing in the smaller race live than the remote-controlled big boys in Italy.

These kinds of changes that Tinkov proposes tend to get kicked around every couple of years but radio racing seems to be sacrosanct now and off any discussion agenda.

Someone else wants to give some advice to the TV guys.

I get most (some) of the references.
What does "Den Bril" signify ?

Obviously, an April Fool's Day article ...  Very Happy Forum Index -> Cycling Forum
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