News that a revenue sharing proposal between the ProTeams and RCS Sport signals a profound change in the financial structure of professional cycling.
RCS Sport runs major races like the grand tour Giro d’Italia, the high profile Tirreno-Adriatico and one of the true monuments of cycling, the Milan-San Remo classic.
In all the opening analysis of the implications of a new model in revenue sharing, there’s been little discussion of the domino effect. It is huge because once the first one falls, the momentum and force will quickly knock down the other dominoes.
New Giro boss Michele Acquarone has made the move that his counterparts at ASO — read Tour de France — have so far rebuffed. It’s also a new financial model that the autocratic and prehistoric UCI has essentially ignored and discounted. Another round of cocktails, Pat.
What Acquarone has just accomplished is to significantly raise the profile of the Giro d’Italia and alter the entire dynamic of rider selection for races. Since teams are now sharing in the goodie bag, it’s in the financial interest of teams to bring their best riders, the top stars, the guys with the highest media profiles.
Let’s say that domino falls and next year the Giro draws a huge roster of top stars. The other dominos begin to fall and suddenly the old financial model is dead and clueless UCI president McQuaid wonders what happened. Don’t ask Irish crony Stephen Roche because it has nothing to do with unzipped jerseys.
Watch what happens next.
Now the Tour of California, also on the May calendar, needs to get some of those star riders back who had been skipping the Giro to ride in the one week tour in sunny California. They have to up the ante with their own revenue sharing deal. Domino down.
But wait — the Giro is hotly contested, a beautiful and thrilling event and now the top challengers are just a little weary. They’ve made the Italian grand tour more of a focus based on team orders and now they ride the Tour de France with tired legs or skip it altogether.
Suddenly, ASO has a problem with only one solutions. Another domino falls, this time in France. La Grande Boucle needs the best riders in the world at their event and is now willing to share the treasure chest with teams.
What Giro boss Michele Acquarone has done is both bold and visionary. The balance of power is shifting and the world of cycling will never be the same again. Respect to Acquarone and Garmin-Barracuda’s Jonathan Vaughters for pushing into a better future for the sport. While McQuaid fiddled away, others keep Rome from burning down.
Former Giro impresario Angelo Zomegnan liked to say he put a little “drama” into each stage. Acquarone has shown that he might be the more forward-thinking leader. He’s putting a little vision into each stage. Chapeau, my new friend.