To achieve this the group wants to bring excitement to the sport, allowing fans to engage more with the teams than ever before. Velon’s aims are for a coherent season that excites people from start to finish and uses emerging technologies, such as on-bike cameras, that bring fans closer to the action.
Through Velon, the group will continue to work on partnerships with other stakeholders in the sport, including the UCI, the race organisers, and the AIGCP professional cycling association.
Velon’s founding members are Belkin Pro Cycling, BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Sharp (in 2015, Garmin-Sharp will become Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling), Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Team Giant-Shimano, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing. The group is open to working with other teams that share their objectives and values, either to join Velon or partner with the company on new business.
“There has been a group of teams collaborating for some time about how we can – by working together – shape the future of the sport,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports and Team Garmin-Sharp, and a founding member of Velon. “Facilitating the use of on-bike cameras during racing was our first major step and now, as a formal cooperative, we will be able to continue to create even more opportunities to grow the sport we all love and make it more accessible to our fans. This is particularly exciting for our organization as we look ahead to 2015 as Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling.”
Andrew Talansky, rider for Team Garmin-Sharp, added: “It’s great to see teams working so closely together to create an even better future for cycling; and bringing fans closer to the action of the sport we all love. This is an important and exciting initiative.”
The core ideas and objectives for the Teams in Velon are:
– More exciting sport: looking for a race calendar that tells a season long story, and is better understood by a growing international fan base, with more entertaining racing for the fans.
– New technology: bring the race alive from the rider’s perspective, showing the fans what it’s like from the saddle.
– Underpinned by sustainable, credible teams the fans can follow now and long into the future. Creating a new, better economic future for the sport, through collective action and increased co-operation between the teams and other stakeholders.
The company has been created to work on behalf of these teams for new business creation. Each team is represented on the board and Graham Bartlett (formerly of UEFA, Nike and other major sports brands) has been appointed as CEO.
Bartlett said: “The existing, sponsor only, business model is fragile for all teams. We need to change this to a more rounded one with fans at the heart of it, investing in new technological initiatives to generate greater excitement from the races and bring the sport closer to its fans. The company will look to use the combined commitment of the teams to create new revenues.
“This combined commitment can help to deliver more of what the fans want to see from the sport – exciting races brought to life with great technology. What we’re trying to build will hopefully create a virtuous circle where it’s easier for fans to engage with the teams and riders and gives the teams even greater incentives to maintain credibility.”
The first example of Velon’s work came earlier this year, when these teams got together to work with their riders and the race organisers to implement on-bike cameras during the races.
Bartlett adds: “This could only have been negotiated and delivered with the organisers by having a unified group. Initially co-operating with IMG for the Tour de Suisse and then continuing with A.S.O. at the Tour de France, the Vuelta and a number of other big races in the calendar.
“By using new technology, and by working very closely with the race organisers, the teams were able to capture fantastic, never seen before footage showing the riders in spectacular fashion and the response from the fans was even better than we expected.”
The Tour de Suisse on-bike camera videos syndicated to Cyclingnews and InCycle (which is also an IMG Media/Velon collaboration) were viewed over 1 million times.
Fans and financial partners must trust the sport and the teams must be open, honest and transparent. The integrity of cycling is also the foundation for a healthy following, increased investment and further growth. This must be based on a sound, stable business model for the teams.
Velon is a business venture formed by pro-cycling teams, established in 2014 to foster longer term stability for its members and the sport. It is wholly owned and controlled equally by the 11 shareholding teams. Headquartered in the UK, the commercial organisation “Velon” was founded by Belkin Pro Cycling, BMC Racing, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Belisol, Omega Pharma – Quick-step, Orica-GreenEDGE, Team Giant-Shimano, Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo and Trek Factory Racing, with members of each team on Velon’s board. Its first project was to create on-bike camera footage for several UCI World Tour races in 2014.