‘Cycling should modernise after virus to end reliance on Tour de France’

Team Ineos rider Egan Bernal races in Paris wearing the yellow jersey as winner of the 2019 Tour de France

The 2020 Tour de France start date has been moved from 27 June to 29 August

Cycling should modernise its business model to end its reliance on the Tour de France in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, says Team Ineos principal Sir Dave Brailsford.

The postponed 2020 Tour de France is now set to start on 29 August.

Teams rely on sponsorship for most of their revenue and the Tour provides the most exposure for sponsors.

“If one event should happen this year, we would all choose for it to be the Tour,” Brailsford told BBC Radio 4.

Speaking to the Today programme, Brailsford said the Tour is the biggest race in the calendar “by quite a long way”.

“One of the challenges cycling has is that revenue is totally dependent on sponsors and different sponsors are in different businesses and some are more effective than others in the current climate,” he said.

“Modernising the business model going forward would be wise for everybody.”

The International Cycling Union (UCI) is still planning to stage all major races this season, with the two other three-week Grand Tour races, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, rescheduled for after the Tour de France and the Road World Championships in September.

The postponed ‘monument’ one-day races – Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastonge-Liege, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix – will also take place on dates yet to be decided.

The UCI faces a tough task to fit in all these races in October and November, when cold and wet weather in Europe could also play a factor.

Brailsford said there is a “good lesson” for the future for the sport to come up with a “better model, which is a bit more diversified and has the bigger races spread among the calendar so we don’t rely so much on one race”.

“Everyone would see the benefits of having a more robust structure,” he added.

“It would allow people to plan for the medium-to-long term, rather than planning short-term and, just for some, survival on a short-term basis – that would be a very big game changer.”

France’s sports minister has said the Tour de France, which was won by Team Ineos’ Egan Bernal last year, could go ahead without fans by the roadside.

Brailsford said the Tour should only be staged in a “reasonable and responsible” manner.

“There are risks involved and hundreds of people lining the road in close proximity is not the best idea,” he said.

“Certain measures would have to be taken in order for the event to be run safely, which is of paramount importance.”

However, Brailsford said Team Ineos, who have won seven of the past eight Tours including under former sponsor Sky, are working on the assumption the race will happen.

“At least then mentally you can put yourself in a position where you’re working towards a goal, but we fully recognise that may well get shifted,” he added.

“If you try to work with uncertainty, that does not give anybody the benefit of being able to plan and have something to work towards.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/52367187

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