MTN-Qhubeka minus MTN. Tour triumphs not enough.

 

Lining up, asking for money?

Lining up, asking for money?

 

We’d say this is exhibit A with what’s wrong with the current financial model in pro cycling. Then again, it’s really exhibit Z or exhibit 2947589.

This sport is messed up, euro-funding-sponsor-wise.

Despite a stage win in their first appearance in the Tour de France, the marketing director, looking at the numbers and furrowing his brow, decided that the darling little South African team with the high profile just wasn’t paying dividends.

“We feel we don’t have a return on that investment at the levels of comfort to us‚” company’s group corporate affairs executive Chris Maroleng told Times Media in in Johannesburg.

Yes, Maroleg looks at his bottom lines, his powerpoint and his ROI scenarios and decided his six million investment in the team — since 2013 — didn’t make enough financial sense.

What does, financially speaking, in pro cycling? Cannonade-Garmin’s Jonathan Vaughters could talk for two days on what’s wrong with cycling from a sponsor point of view. We’re not here to castigate a marketing guy from MTN.

It’s a sport for deep pockets like Sky where Rupert Murdock can largely buy his way into a Tour de France win with a crew of super domestiques for Chris Froome. Or then there’s Russian business tycoon Oleg Tinkoff running a horrifically expensive vanity project for Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador.

Tinkof has a clear understanding of math and he doesn’t like what he sees from ASO and the UCI in any discussion about revenue sharing.

Then there’s Andy Rhys, another rich man, funding BMC as a World Tour hobby. We don’t mean to belabor and repeat the obvious facts that everybody well knows.

It’s just …. what does MTN-Qhubeka have to do better to keep deserving a place in the sport? Polka-dot climbers jersey in the Tour for a few days? Stage win in Mende by Steve Cummings on Nelson Mandela Day? A high ranking in the team competition at the Tour?

Seriously, they checked all the gold boxes.

You don’t need to be an economist or a marketing MBA or even a 12 year old with decent math skills to see this is a disaster scenario for a sport with several other disaster scenarios — pharma doping, mechanical doping, media bashing of all race winners ….

Sigh ….

Qhubeka is lucky that new sponsor Dimension Data is ready to step in with serious funds. Very lucky. Over at FDJ, Marc Madiot doesn’t know his budget and isn’t sure he has the funds to build a real support team around Thibaut Pinot for a serious run at a Tour de France podium. And that’s a state-fun lottery.

You could say the whole sport is a long shot lottery ticket.

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