Sir Dave Brailsford, managing director of the British cycling team Team Ineos, called for the modernization of the sport and an end to its dependence on the Tour de France after the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tour de France, the largest of the three major bike tours, was originally scheduled to take place from June 27 to July 19, but was postponed to August 29 due to the global health crisis.
Cycling is highly dependent on sponsorship and the Tour de France accounts for 70-80% of the brand’s visibility to team sponsors due to the event’s worldwide television coverage, according to cyclingnews.com.
The President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), David Lappartient, said in March that the cancellation of the big tours would be a “disaster” for the sport and the world governing body has since described the holding of the Tour de France this year as “essential” because of “its central role”. place in the economics of cycling. “
“If something were to happen this year, we would all choose to be the Tour,” Brailsford told BBC Radio 4. “One of the challenges of cycling is that the revenue is totally dependent on the sponsors and that different sponsors are in different companies and some are more effective than others in the current climate. “
The UCI has already been forced to put its staff on leave and reduce the salaries of its executives following the loss of a large part of its annual calendar.
Brailsford believes the challenges of the coronavirus epidemic should encourage cycling to find new ways to generate income and spark reform in the sport.
“Everyone would see the benefits of having a more robust structure,” he added to BBC Radio 4. “It would allow people to plan for the medium and long term, rather than planning for the short term, and, for some only, to survive on the short term – it would be a very big game change. Upgrading the business model in the future would make sense for everyone. “
Medical experts have warned that holding the tour in August would still be dangerous. Devi Sridhar, president of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, described the plan as “a recipe for disaster”, telling cyclingnews.com that “the wise one” would be to “cancel for this year”.
Brailsford also recognized that the Tour can only continue if it is safe for the public and the riders.
“There are risks and hundreds of people lining the road nearby are not the best idea,” he said.
The Tour de France is slated to launch the revised 2020 UCI calendar, along with the Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta, the other two major tours, which will take place after the UCI Road World Championships in September. The most prestigious one-day cycling races of monuments – Milan-San Remo, Liège-Bastonge-Liège, Tour des Flandres and Paris-Roubaix – must also be held on dates yet to be determined.