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Shimano Durace 9sp
Crankset : 170 mm 53/39
Handlebar : ITM Millennium
Saddle : Selle Italia
Seatpost : Shimano Durace
Rims : Front is Mavic Open 4CD on a Durace
Rear is Bontrager Race on Bontrager Hub
Includes: Lightweight bottle cages and a Cateye computer
Seat tube (Center to top) = 52 cm
Top tube (Center to Center) = 53 cm
Stand over height = 77 cm
MILAN (VN) — Italian second-division team, Neri Sottoli may sign Alessandro Petacchi for 2015, but it races into the new season with uncertainties linked to past doping cases.
The team fans love to hate may be back, and maybe with Petacchi, if all goes well for general manager Angelo Citracca. If not, he explained that the team has enough sponsorship and is not dependent on a Giro d’Italia invite to continue.
“Petacchi’s got experience, he’s a big name and he could help our new young under-23 sprinter who’s turning pro, Jakub Mareczko,” Citracca told VeloNews.
“Whether or not he’d help for the Giro d’Italia, that’s for the organizer to answer, but he’d help with any race invitation, not just the Giro, given his palmarès.”
Petacchi won the green jersey at the 2010 Tour de France. He joined Omega Pharma-Quick Step to help Mark Cavendish in 2013 and was not renewed at the end of this season. The Tuscan team could be the perfect landing spot for the 40-year-old Italian as his career winds down, but there are some issues for Citracca.
Citracca acknowledged that the team faces pressure from the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) and the unknown when it comes to a Giro d’Italia wildcard invitation.
As a second-division team, it must ask for invitations to the big races like the Giro. The organizer automatically gives the first-division teams the right to race and hands out four (or possibly five in 2015) wildcard invitations to lower ranking professional continental teams.
Neri Sottoli — or Vini Fantini and Yellow Fluo as it was called — raced its home grand tour the last four years with success. However, its neon colors never looked as dark as when the 2013 edition saw two of its cyclists, Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio, test positive for EPO.
It received an invitation to race again in 2014 from organizer RCS Sport who was making a nod to its Italian teams. This year, it won the Coppa Italia series of races, which gives it the front of the line spot to participate in the 2015 Giro, but doubts linger over its inclusion after Matteo Rabottini, the Italian who won a stage and the mountains jersey in 2012, tested positive for EPO in August.
“We don’t have any right to race the Giro. We won the cup, OK, but it all depends on RCS Sport. That cup win was great for us and our sponsors, but it does not give us the right to force our Giro participation,” Citracca continued.
“If the organizer says that we can’t race given our past doping cases, we’ll accept that and move forward because in 2014 they already invited us given everything that happened before and when everyone thought they wouldn’t do so. We’d accept it without making a fuss.”
Giro race director Mauro Vegni explained to Tutto Bici website this month that it is true the Coppa Italia-winning team gets the nod, but that only comes after it has checked all of the boxes.
“The team,” Vegni said, “is subject to the usual economic and ethics criteria and that gives us the ability to accept or to reject it despite winning the cup.”
RCS Sport is due to hand out the wildcard invitations sometime in January. It is expected to offer five — one more than normal — since only 17 and not 18 first-division teams are due to race the 2015 WorldTour.
Boiling in the background is the MPCC. The movement said in a press release this week that it did not appreciate how the team responded to Rabottini’s doping positive and warned a punishment could follow.
Citracca disagreed with its stance and said that he is pushing cycling’s governing body to unify the rules for all teams instead of having separate voluntary rules that some teams adhere to and others do not.
The rule change may come because UCI President Brian Cookson said last month that he wants to streamline the rules to avoid confusion for fans, which occurred for example when Lampre-Merida stopped Chris Horner from racing the Vuelta a España due to low cortisol levels.
“There’s no help with being a MPCC member, there are just requirements and no rights that come along with such membership. The rules are not clear, not respected equally.
“We joined because we are a pro team, if we are not in the MPCC, then we’ll have problems racing in certain races. You’re obliged in a sense to join. The UCI needs to look at that, if it is correct that the organizers are obliging teams to be part of an association to race. We are already paying a lot of money to the UCI for the passport and following strict financial guidelines, but then an association like MPCC decides if you can race?”
The post Neri Sottoli hoping for Giro invite amid doping concerns appeared first on VeloNews.com.
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With two routes of the three grand tours already confirmed, now all eyes turn to Spain.
The Vuelta a España, however, is waiting until January 10 to make its route announcement for the 70th edition.
The Vuelta is confirmed to start with five days of racing in and around Malaga in Spain’s sunny Andalucía region, coinciding with the peak holiday season in late August.
Vuelta director Javier Guillén confirmed the 2015 Vuelta will conclude once again in Madrid. This year, the race finished with four days of racing in Galicia, also a question of convenience for the world championships, which were held in nearby Ponferrada.
Speaking in an interview with the Spanish media outlet Cinco Días, Guillén said the Vuelta is planning something special for what will be the 80th anniversary for the Spanish tour.
“We want to include a lot of new mountaintop finales for 2015,” Guillén said. “Maybe we could announce that every summit finish will be on new climbs, but it’s still not finalized.”
There are rumors the race could dip into Portugal as well as include a return to the Basque Country in northern Spain.
Since the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) took over the Vuelta in 2008, the Spanish tour has enjoyed a renaissance.
“We have our own personality,” he continued. “Explosive finals, shorter stages, new climbs, original stage starts. We have an important identity as a race.”
Vuelta officials also confirmed they will hold a women’s race to coincide with the final day of racing in Madrid.
Time bonuses, and the thrilling battle for the yellow jersey in the first week that come with them, are back in the Tour de France.
As part of a restructuring of the points competition, Tour officials reintroduced time bonuses for the first time since eliminating them for the 2008 edition. Finish-line bonuses of 10, 6, and 4 seconds will be in the offing in the opening nine days of racing, but do not apply to the stage 1 time trial nor the stage 9 team time trial. The remainder of the stages, dominated by the Pyrénées and Alps, will not see bonuses in play.
“We want to open up the race,” said Tour director Christian Prudhomme in Paris on Wednesday. “We want the race to be decided on any day of the Tour.”
It’s a compromise to appease the GC riders who argue that time bonuses, especially on mountaintop finishes, can be inherently unfair and can dramatically alter the overall standings. The logic being that a rider with a fast finishing kick atop a brutal climb doesn’t deserve to gain an invaluable 10 seconds (or more, when some bonuses can be as much as 20 seconds) by simply stabbing their bikes across the line first.
By limiting the time bonuses to the first nine stages, the Tour is looking for a middle ground. It wants to protect the integrity of the GC battle, but open up the typically exciting battle for the yellow jersey among the sprinters.
The gateway to the prized maillot jaune was slammed shut, at least to the sprinters, after the 2007 Tour when Tour director Christian Prudhomme introduced the “true time” policy of eliminating time bonuses.
Tour officials rationalized that time bonuses unfairly altered the GC and confused fans. But in practice, the time bonus ban blotted out one of the most interesting battles during the entire Tour: the fight for the yellow jersey among the sprinters.
Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who rose to prominence in the sprints just as ASO rolled back the time bonuses, has never worn the yellow jersey. Neither have sprinters over the last half decade, such as André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
In 2012, for example, Fabian Cancellara won the opening prologue, and held the yellow jersey uncontested for a week, before Bradley Wiggins overtook the lead in the first of two time trials. Wiggins held it all the way to Paris, giving the Tour just two yellow jerseys throughout three weeks of racing — hardly palpating stuff to excite fans, teams, riders, or media. In sharp contrast, five riders held yellow in the first week alone in 2006.
Of course, time bonuses can occasionally decide the outcome in the final GC of a grand tour. In the 2011 Vuelta a España, Juanjo Cobo beat the ascendant Chris Froome by 13 seconds. Take away Cobo’s time bonuses, and Froome would have won by 19 seconds. In the 2008 Vuelta, Alberto Contador beat then-teammate Levi Leipheimer by 46 seconds, but erase the bonuses, and the pair would have finished in Madrid tied on time.
Most agree, however, that time bonuses will help liven up the first half of the Tour.
By the 1990s, the Tour settled into a familiar pattern, with a short opening prologue followed by a week of relatively flat stages that favored the fast-twitch sprinters. That gave riders such as Robbie McEwen, Erik Zabel, and Mario Cipollini the chance to finish close in the prologue, win a stage or two, and they could end up in the yellow jersey. Intra-stage time bonuses — of 6, 4, and 2 seconds — only added to the drama. Those apparently have not been reintroduced for 2015.
Just how much the return of the time bonuses will play on the yellow jersey remains to be seen. The opening day time trial, at nearly 14km, will create major differences, and it could prove difficult to wrestle away the yellow jersey if such see riders such as Tony Martin (Omega Pharma) or Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) win the stage, and take substantial time with it.
On top of that, the opening week is hardly a string of boring sprint stages, so it’s unlikely that pure sprinters such as Cavendish or Marcel Kittel (Giant) will be cherry-picking time bonuses at their whim.
Stage 2 could well end in a mass sprint, but stage 3 ends atop the Mur de Huy, the challenging wall featured each year in Flèche-Wallonne, hardly sprinter’s country. Stage 4 takes the peloton once again over the treacherous cobbles, which saw the peloton crumble over the punishing pavé. Any sprinters who survive those landmines will face a hard battle to win back bonuses on equally sinuous terrain across Brittany before a punchy finale in stage 8 and the team time trial on stage 9.
Instead, the bonuses could play into the hands of the likes of Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), Michel Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), or even Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing). Those are riders who could have a strong time trial to stay close, and then thrive in the classics-style racing of the first week.
So what to expect? No matter how it plays out, the return of the time bonuses will add an additional layer of drama and intrigue to the first week of racing, without taking anything away from the true fight for the yellow jersey. In fact, their presence will give GC riders even more motivation to battle for stage wins in the first week.
Rather than seeing just two riders in the yellow jersey throughout the entire Tour, like in 2012, the opening nine days of racing of the 2015 Tour could see three or four riders take yellow, perhaps even a few more.
In another significant change, the Tour has reshuffled the points competition in what could be viewed as the “anti-Sagan” rule change. Like time bonuses, the new points rules will apply to the first nine stages only.
In 2014, Sagan won his third consecutive points jersey without winning a stage. By consistently placing in the top-5, Sagan picked up points to coast relatively unchallenged into his third green jersey. Under new rules introduced for 2015, that feat could prove more difficult, with a new rule structure favoring stage winners.
“We want to give more of a bonus for those who win,” Prudhomme said Wednesday.
Under new rules, a stage win will be worth 50 points, compared to 45 under old rules. The gap to second-place is significant, with just 30 points to the runner-up, compared to 35 under former rules. Here are new points for the top-15 — 50, 30, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 — compared to the former top-15: 45, 35, 30, 26, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2. Those numbers will only put more pressure on green jersey candidates to win.
The post Tour de France resurrects time bonuses, reshuffles points competition appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Editor’s Note: VeloNews contributor Steve Maxwell and his TheOuterLine.com partner Joe Harris are publishing a multi-part series of articles about how to improve the sport of cycling’s business foundation. This is an excerpt from the second article.
One of cycling’s greatest attractions for fans is that it’s basically free to watch. The flip side is that, relative to other sports, there is much greater pressure on event organizers and teams to find external commercial sponsors to provide the financial foundation for the sport. And although there is an urgent need to diversify the sources of revenue in the sport, the fact is that pro cycling — by its very nature — will always be heavily dependent upon commercial sponsorship. Viewed from this perspective, one of the most pressing issues faced by the sport is the need to attract and retain more committed and global long-term sponsors.
The real problem (as pointed out in the first article in this series) is an underlying atmosphere of instability that affects everything and everyone in the sport, because the requisite sponsorship and financial backing are always in flux. Team managers are always on the hunt for new sponsors. Race organizers are trapped in revolving budget shortfalls. Marginal teams come and go. Riders and other employees worry constantly about whether their team is about to collapse — should they be looking for employment elsewhere? There is no sense of security. This continuous turnover, uncertainty, and sense of financial foreboding has a very negative impact on the sport — and it must be addressed.
Sports sponsors are after opportunities that will give their brand wide exposure, but they obviously steer away from options they fear could turn into liabilities. In this regard, pro cycling is at a distinct disadvantage. Doping scandals have overshadowed the sport for so long that it has developed a poor public image — with the general public, but also with much of the potential sponsor base. As Bob Stapleton, chief of the former HTC High Road team, and now chairman of USA Cycling, says, “You can’t talk about cycling sponsorship without confronting the doping issue.”
Because of this historical legacy, “cycling can look like a risky bet,” says Slipstream team owner Doug Ellis, especially vis-à-vis other sports. No one wants their name and brand to get bogged down in a doping scandal, and no company, even today, should enter the pro cycling market without directly confronting this issue and deciding how to deal with the risks.
Although it’s impossible to know what the real impact of doping has been, it is certain that there are many potential sponsors out there who fear that associating their name with pro cycling may hurt rather than help their brand image and customer awareness. Because of this, cycling has had to adapt to continuously high sponsor turnover — with new firms coming in and out of the sport almost every year. Despite recent and hopeful progress in this regard, numerous key sponsors continue to pull out of the business — Belkin, Liquigas and RadioShack to name just a few.
Beyond this primary issue of changing and overcoming its historical image, there are also a number of secondary challenges in promoting pro cycling sponsorship.
First, it is very difficult to measure and document the value of a sponsorship investment. Accurately measuring the benefit and economic value of any sports sponsorship is at best an inexact science, but more sophisticated metrics and means of evaluating the real financial returns would be invaluable in attracting cautious potential sponsors. One recent study estimated a six-to-one financial return on cycling sponsorship investments — a claim which was briefly bandied about by various parties who wanted to agree with the conclusion, such as the UCI and sponsor-hungry ProTeams. Unfortunately, however, these studies are often based upon very simplistic value calculations or unverifiable assumptions — making it difficult to judge their accuracy or conclusions. Many sponsors tend to fall back on what is easy to measure — like the number of logo or signage “views,” often measured as the number of seconds the logo is in view on television — rather than what may be important to measure, such as consumer recognition of the sponsors’ product, and whether or not the consumer trusts the sponsor.
Second, the visibility and potential revenue-generating capability of pro cycling is overwhelmingly focused on a single event — the Tour de France. Getting selected for the Tour is a huge consideration for existing or potential sponsors, and unfortunately, the system for selection has historically been somewhat opaque. The sport desperately needs to diversify its calendar and logically organize its structure (to be discussed in later article in this series) in order to spread the wealth around a bit better. Here again, the sport is heavily dependent upon the decisions and strategies of ASO to move it in a positive direction for overall growth — not just to consolidate and preserve its current lock on key events.
And even with key sponsors, many teams don’t cover all of their expenses. In many cases, there is a wealthy individual owner behind the scenes absorbing at least some financial losses incurred by the team. This has led to a growing disparity or “income gap” within the ranks of the teams on the WorldTour — where some teams struggle to survive while others are propped up by the likes of cycling patrons like Andy Rihs or Oleg Tinkov. This allows some teams to survive over the short-term, but it’s clearly not a sustainable long-term financial model; being a loss-leader rarely leads to market success. Moreover, when patrons pull out, these teams often collapse.
Finally, cycling events are just as dependent as teams are upon sponsorship arrangements and wealthy backers to survive — particularly in the United States. All three of the top races in the U.S. are essentially underwritten by wealthy individuals or companies — in addition to name sponsors. Event organizers face most of the same challenges that bedevil individual teams, and sometimes actually find themselves competing with their constituent teams for the same sources of scarce sponsor dollars.
The post Changing the Business Model: Building the sponsorship base appeared first on VeloNews.com.