Below is a listing of all The Outer Line articles from the last few years – covering a wide range of critical governance, economic, structural, ethical and competitive sporting issues in professional cycling. Download your own PDF copy of any article by clicking on the buttons below. The most recent articles are listed first.
A 10-Year Look at UCI WorldTour Team Performance — A look at UCI WorldTour team wins — and trends — from 2012 through 2021.
Is It Time to Shake Up the Pro Cycling Calendar? — Could pro cycling take lessons from pro triathlon?
What’s Next at USA Cycling? A Talk With Brendan Quirk — Newly appointed USA Cycling chairman Brendan Quirk discusses the challenges and opportunities facing USA Cycling and how to grow cycling in the United States.
What Next for Africa’s Team Qhubeka-Nexthash? — As a final deadline draws near, The Outer Line talked to embattled Team Qhubeka-NextHash principal Doug Ryder about the team’s prospects and survival.
The UCI Approaches a Sportswashing Crossroads –If the UCI decides this week to award the 2025 World Championships to Rwanda, will it constitute a bold step forward in cycling’s internationalization, finally putting sub-Saharan Africa squarely in the sport’s limelight, or will it be a turn towards sportswashing?
The Riders Union Prepares to Challenge the Status Quo — The Riders Union is stepping up its campaign to more actively represent the interests of the professional peloton, challenging the legal standing of the CPA and its claim that it automatically represents all the athletes. The UCI will have some decisions to make.
Should Pro Cycling Consider a Salary Cap? — We dig into the question: Is money the primary key to competitive success in cycling? If so, should we be trying to ensure a more level playing field?
Review of The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World — Athletes from many different sports have taken a stand this past year to protest the state of racial equality and justice in this country. Dave Zirin’s new book chronicles the origins and range of these protests – at the high-school, college, and professional level. Pro cycling and most elite endurance sports are largely out of the loop.
Are one-week stage races In trouble? — More young riders are foregoing the traditional late-spring, weeklong races to prepare for the Tour de France in favor of dedicated altitude training. Those legacy races may gradually become less relevant and need to reinvent themselves or reschedule their place in the calendar.
Seeking to Understand USA Cycling’s Olympic Selection Process — The American riders have been chosen for next month’s Olympic Games. Here, we look at the process, analyze the inevitable disappointments and ask the ultimate question: Did we choose the best athletes to win medals in Tokyo?
USA Cycling’s New Let’s Ride Program — USA Cycling has announced a new initiative – the “Let’s Ride” campaign to get more kids — from all walks of life — onto bikes.
Evolving Strategies for Cyclists on Mitigating and Recovering From COVID-19 –We examine the recommendations for athletes who have suffered from COVID-19, as well as the best practices for avoiding spreading the virus.
Rethinking the Polka Dot Jersey –– With the competition for the KOM jersey at the Tour de France suffering a fall in prestige in recent years, we examine options for making the contest more exciting.
Danish Cycling’s Ethical Dilemma –Contributing writer Professor Jörg Krieger of Aarhus University comments on an emerging scandal in Danish cycling.
How to Prevent Athlete Abuse in Cycling — Pro cycling’s unfortunate Van Gansen decision has underscored a fatal flaw in sport, and shows that cycling – and all Olympic sports – must reconsider the concept of ‘the autonomy of sport’ in order to better protect athletes. UCI President David Lappartient has the opportunity to cement his legacy by taking the lead on this issue.
Race Economics — What COVID-19 Has Revealed — After a year of living with COVID and the effects of the global pandemic, we have better insight into the razor-thin economics of even pro cycling’s biggest events, and what the sport should do to mitigate these risks and strengthen its future.
How to Predict Individual and Team Performance –A look at the relative gains or losses of each WorldTour team during the off-season transfer market, and a ballpark predictive technique for team performance in the upcoming season.
Will ‘Roda’ Replace WADA in 2021? — The Rodchenkov Act, signed into U.S. law in December 2020, could bring significant consequences for cheating in sports — and the sort of results that WADA failed to deliver during the Russian doping saga. We touch on how this will impact the sport and if it could also come at a significant financial cost, and could permanently erase the legal buffers separating sports integrity from criminal prosecution.
Discussing Activism in Cycling With Kathryn Bertine — An interview with retired pro cyclist, activist, and author of ‘STAND: A memoir on activism. A manual for progress. What really happens when we stand on the front lines of change.’
A Discussion With Dick Pound, the First President of WADA — In an exclusive interview with The Outer Line, the former president of WADA talks about his time in the world of international sport and anti-doping – saying Lance Armstrong got what he deserved, and confirming that the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will go on as currently planned.
Israel Start-up Nation Fields One of the Oldest Teams in Recent Memory –The six-year-old team will line up with existing stars around Chris Froome, including Dan Martin, Andre Greipel, and Alex Dowsett. But, money doesn’t necessarily buy competitive success.
NASCAR and Pro Cycling – Different, but Similar — NASCAR and pro cycling generally play out at opposite ends of the sporting and cultural spectrum. But there are also some striking parallels between the two sports – particularly in terms of team structure and reliance upon external sponsors.
Why Was Tour de France TV Viewership up in 2020? –Almost all American sports have seen a significant decline in TV viewership during this pandemic-abbreviated season. However, the American audience for the Tour de France was the highest it’s been in ten years.
The Death of Sprinting? — The effects of Dylan Groenewegen’s harsh sanction, and the threat of further legal action, continue to ripple through pro cycling. If sprinters are concerned that aggressive tactics could land them on the sidelines for a year, or even in jail, it could spell the end of traditional sprint finishes. The UCI must clarify this situation or risk killing the art of sprinting.
What the New Riders Union Should Do to Succeed —A stronger riders union could bring substantial progress on the major challenges the riders face today – more stable employment, safer racing conditions, and a more secure post-retirement future.
The Tour That Almost Wasn’t —What could happen to team race strategies, or the overall outcome if one or more teams are expelled from the race? The chaotic 1998 Tour provides some interesting lessons and insights.
The Devilish Task of Race Logistics – Then and Now —It’s always been a logistical and challenge to successfully put on a major international bike race. And COVID-19 adds a whole new layer of complexity.
Peter Sagan — the Best Tour de France Rider Since Eddy Merckx? —The statistics suggest that Sagan is the most consistent Tour rider of all time, with the possible exception of the Cannibal, Eddy Merckx.
PeopleForBikes Is Changing With the Industry —Most cyclists have heard of PeopleForBikes, but what does it actually do, and where will its energetic new CEO Jenn Dice steer the organization in the future?
The Kittie Knox Award – for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Cycling —In 1893 Knox was noted in the Black press for her ‘graceful cycling.’ She was a member of the League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W.), predecessor to the League of American Bicyclists.
Climate Change and Endurance Sports — Environmental factors are already significantly impacting elite sport, and will continue to influence pro cycling’s efforts to expand and bring the sport before a wider and more global audience.
Examining EF Pro Cycling’s 2019 ‘Alternative Calendar’ — EF’s initial announcement to pursue an alternative racing calendar received a lot of media attention, in reality, it was a fairly minor part of the overall Team EF Pro Cycling program.
Lance Armstrong Says It’s ‘Time for the Riders to Seize Power’ — We examine the feasibility of the comments from the controversial former champion about riders being able to take advantage of the current climate to disrupt and overhaul the legacy constraints of the sport – and enrich their future.
Can Virtual Racing Be the Next ‘Real Thing’ for Cycling? — We discuss if e-racing is a fashionable but temporary trend, the emergence of a new sport entirely, or simply an emerging small segment of the existing structure.
‘Did I Just Bonk?’ — Signals No Cyclist Should Ignore — There are some signals which might suggest that you should take a more serious look at your health, rather than simply “soldiering on” in silence.
Dave Brailsford on the Coronavirus Shutdown, the Tour de France, and Pro Cycling’s Return — In a wide-ranging interview with us, Sir David Brailsford discusses pro cycling’s return from the COVID-19 shutdown, whether cycling needs a better business model, and the Tour de France’s power over the sport.
Q&A With Israel Start-Up Nation GM Kjell Carlstrom — We talked in detail with Israel Start-Up Nation General Manager Kjell Carlstrom, a former racer for teams Sky and Liquigas, and a team director at IAM Cycling before joining ISN.
The UCI’s New 2020 Calendar Has Too Many Risks — We argue that the UCI’s proposed 2020 calendar is simply too risky to be realistic.
Restarting the 2020 Racing Calendar — Many Questions, but a Few Emerging Answers — There are a number of perplexing questions around how the remainder of the 2020 racing calendar could potentially play out – which races will still be held, how competing races will be scheduled.
Canceled Cycling Events — Why Can’t I Get My Money Back? — With participants unable to get their entry fees refunded for cancelled events, The Outer Line reached out to several event organizers to answer to this question, and provide some perspective on the situation.
Team Movistar Documentary on Netflix Is What Pro Cycling Needs — For years, observers have insisted that cycling could make far more effective use of television and video formats to get behind the scenes. Movistar appears to have finally cracked the code with their highly compelling Netflix series.
How Pro Teams Can Reach Fans During Pro Cycling’s Shutdown — We outline what professional cycling teams could potentially implement to continue to reach fans and drive value for sponsors during the current pause in racing.
A Year With No Summer — During scary and transformative times like these, we often look to history to provide insight, answers or comfort. When have similar calamities befallen mankind in the past, and how did we react? Did new innovations result? Was there eventually a silver lining? There is one historic parallel which should be of great interest to the cycling community.
Coronavirus Poses a Major Threat to Pro Cycling Sponsorships — Pro cycling managers have told The Outer Line that the COVID-19 pandemic could spell financial ruin for professional teams as their sponsors weather the uncertain economic future. We examined how things could unfold as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the sport’s finances.
Report From Ground Zero on the Impact of COVID-19 — We checked in with members of the pro cycling community in northern Italy, to get a sense of the situation on the ground there.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Classics Season — We examined the growing impact of COVID-19 on the pro cycling season and what the future months may hold.
Creative Ways to Stretch the Sponsorship Dollar – and Sponsor Value — Rally Cycling came up with a creative way to stretch its sponsorship dollars at 2020’s Tour Colombia. Other teams could learn from their ingenuity and maximize their budgets in a perennially cash-strapped sport.
Q&A With Michael Ask, Chairman of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations — We spoke with Michael Ask, the CEO of Anti-Doping Denmark (ADD), who says cycling has come a long way from the dark days of the Festina Affair.
Davis Phinney Discusses His Racing Career and Today’s Pro Cycling Scene — We sat down with legendary American rider Davis Phinney to relive his career, the career of his son, Taylor, and to discuss the current state of the sport.
How Drug Anti-Diversion Techniques Can Be Used to Curb Doping — Doping rings often use legal pharmaceuticals that have been illegally diverted to the black market. We examined how anti-diversion tactics used by the healthcare industry can be used to combat doping.
How Rider Agents Influence Pro Cycling — We examine the role that rider agents play in pro cycling. These behind-the-scenes power brokers influence everything from which riders start in which races, who gets a contract and who is left out, and how much a rider will get paid.
How the 2017 UCI World Championships in Norway Went Bankrupt — Three years after the 2017 UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, the race’s problematic financials shed light on how not to organize a major international sporting event.
Q&A With Davis Phinney Foundation Director Polly Dawkins — We sat down with Polly Dawkins, executive director of The Davis Phinney Foundation to learn more about the non-profit.
Analyzing Bjarne Riis’s Return to Pro Cycling With NTT Pro Cycling — We examine the news that Bjarne Riis will take a director role with NTT Pro Cycling for 2020 and explore the broader implications of his return to the sport.
Charting the Best (And Worst) WorldTour Men’s Teams — We chart the victories and top-10 finishes of the UCI men’s WorldTour squads and draws some interesting and sharp conclusions about which teams are succeeding, and which teams are not.
Nicola Cranmer on Losing Sho-Air, Hiring Kristin Armstrong, and the Olympic Chase — In a wide-ranging interview, Team TWENTY20 owner Nicola Cranmer discusses the loss of longtime sponsor Sho-Air group, the importance of virtual racing, and why she’s hired Kristin Armstrong to help lead her squad.
Are There Any Limits to What Mathieu Van Der Poel Can Achieve? — The young Dutch phenomenon appears to be the future of cycling, but Van der Poel’s biggest enemy in coming years could be over-ambition as he continues to challenge across three disciplines.
The Impact of Endurance Training on the Cardiac Health of Women — Female cyclists are at a lower risk of suffering Sudden Cardiac Death than male athletes, but women should still learn about ways to screen for heart problems before engaging in endurance sports.
The Best Has yet to Come for Women’s Pro Cycling — The time is right for pro women’s cycling to see growth in audience and racing days, writes veteran Dutch journalist Raymond Kerckhoffs.
Love Him or Hate Him, Valverde Is the Best Male Rider of the Post-Armstrong Era — Alejandro Valverde’s involvement with the Operacion Puerto doping ring makes him a controversial figure, but on paper, Valverde is far-and-away pro cycling’s best male rider over the past decade.
Former Giro Boss Michele Acquarone on the Future of Cycling — Michele Acquarone was falsely charged with misdirecting RCS corporate funds in late 2013, was fired and endured six years of suspicion, economic and personal hardship before his name was finally cleared by the sluggish Italian court system just two months ago.
Inside the AIGCP’s Challenge to the UCI — Read about how the association of men’s pro teams, AIGCP, is attempting to force a debate with the UCI about the fundamental problems of pro cycling.
The 2020 Tour De France Will Be Won in the ITT, Not the Climbs — Much has been made about the climb-heavy 2020 Tour de France being a course for the “climbers,” but we believe the final outcome will hinge on the single, 36km time trial, not the numerous mountain stages and summit finishes.
Mike Plant Interview (3): Q&A with Mike Plant on Lappartient, ASO, and Pro Cycling’s Governance Challenges — Mike Plant shares his opinions on David Lappartient, the UCI’s oversight of pro cycling, and pro cycling’s ever-present challenges with governance and business.
Mike Plant Interview (2): How Mike Plant Tried to Build a Grand Tour Triple Crown — In part 2 of The Outer Line’s interview with Mike Plant, Plant discusses his attempt to build a Triple Crown series around pro cycling’s grand tours.
How Well Do You Know the 2019 UCI Points Rankings? — The UCI Points Ranking tells a vastly different story of the season than conventional media narratives. We dive into the numbers to see what interesting storylines were missed.
Mike Plant Interview (1): How Mike Plant Laid the Foundation for USA Cycling — We recently sat down with former USA Cycling Chief Mike Plant to discuss his career in cycling, including his work with the Tour du Pont, Tour of China, and the modernization of the sport’s national governing body.
Inside Velon’s current fight with the UCI — Examining Velon’s current legal battle with the UCI.
It’s Time to Rethink the Men’s Under-23 Category — Young stars are opting to bypass the Under-23 ranks entirely, making it more challenging to assess the strength of those riders who race in the category.
Analyzing Mathieu van der Poel’s Chances in Yorkshire — Mathieu van der Poel is the favorite amongst bettors to win the 2019 world championship road race in Yorkshire but there are plenty of obstacles standing in his way.
Former Giro Director Michele Acquarone Finally Cleared of All Charges — After more than six years of accusations, investigations and legal wrangling, former Giro d’Italia chief Michele Acquarone was cleared of the fraud and embezzlement charges that were levied against him by his former employer in late 2013.
RAAM – The Toughest Event in Cycling? — The Outer Line co-founder Steve Maxwell was at the finish line of the Race Across America this year and gained an inside look at the punishing 3,000-mile event.
The Curious Case of Mathieu van der Poel — Mathieu van der Poel, widely considered to be the biggest up-and-coming star in road cycling, is largely absent from the sport’s major events. We examine how sponsorships and shifting team ownership could begin to impact his immediate future.
How to Fix Pro Cycling’s Transfer Headaches — We examine the murky world of pro rider transfers and propose a few solutions for how the sport can attempt to improve and capitalize on this process.
Jumbo-Visma: Rising From the Ashes — Nearly a decade after the demise of Team Rabobank, Dutch squad Jumbo-Visma has become one of the strongest in the WorldTour under the leadership of its owner, Richard Plugge.
Team Ineos faces leadership question after Bernal’s Tour victory — Team Ineos again won the Tour de France. But, the British team showed rare signs of weaknesses in the Tour’s high mountains. And, with the rise of Egan Bernal, who will lead the team at the 2020 Tour?
Remembering Greg LeMond’s thrilling victory 30 years later — On the 30-year anniversary of Greg LeMond’s stunning victory at the 1989 Tour de France, Steve Brunner recounted what it was like to be on the ground for one of the most thrilling moments in the history of the sport.
‘Life Goes on’ for NBC Sports’s Tour Team Following Sherwen’s Tragic Death — Seven months after the tragic death of Paul Sherwen, NBC Sports will slot several announcers into its Tour de France broadcast.
The UCI’s New Track Cycling Model Is a Step Backwards — The UCI’s new reforms to track racing leave no room for sponsor-backed trade teams.
Surviving In the Cycling Media Business — Transformative changes in the media landscape – how we gather, report and distribute news – are having an outsized effect on the niche cycling industry. What are the challenges (and opportunities) – & what do cycling media players need to do to survive?
A New Twist on Summertime Colorado Bike Racing — The women’s-only Colorado Classic faces many of the same challenges that plagued previous editions of the men’s race. Can it turn the corner?
Examining the link between exercise and cardiac injury — A new study by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation suggests that there is no such thing as too much exercise. But recent stories about cardiovascular problems amongst cyclists suggests otherwise. We examine the competing facts in this medical debate.
Pro Riders Race Gravel at Dirty Kanza 200 — The non-traditional racing calendars of WorldTour teams brings riders closer to fans, however, there are numerous potential pitfalls that accompany this strategy.
The Future of Cycling is Female — ASO’s decision not to broadcast marquee races opens the door for someone to create a broadcast platform for women’s pro cycling.
How Cycling Can Avoid Sports-washing — Cycling’s dependence upon financial sponsorship could leave it more susceptible to sports-washing. We explored how cycling can avoid being used to recast poor economic, environmental or human rights records in a more favorable light.
Fact or Fiction in Cycling Media? — Sometimes it’s a little hard to discern fact from fiction in professional cycling. According to recent reports, Oliver Naesen caught severe bronchitis after Gent-Wevelgem as a result of being sprayed with champagne on the podium by winner Alexander Kristoff. Naesen and his team later said that he was on a course of antibiotics, but that he would probably be ready for the Tour of Flanders a week later. When Naesen was able to recover for a career-best performance, it raised larger questions about how to discern between fact and fiction in the cycling media.
Emergence of a New American Cycling Destination — Northwest Arkansas is vying to be considered alongside places like Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas as a hotbed for cycling and outdoor enthusiasts.
Zwift’s eSports Play Could Win Big — the 2019 professional road racing season is well underway around the world, from the elite women’s and men’s UCI WorldTours, to national calendar pro racing, right down to local events. Races seem to start earlier and earlier each calendar year, and the pace is as fast as ever. One reason for the fast start is the growing number of riders who live and train in warm weather climes during the off-season. But another facilitator could be the explosive growth of indoor stationary training platforms. Most time-stressed or weather-shuttered riders dread riding indoors, but a rapid evolution in technology and new products has transformed the indoor training landscape in just a few years. Zwift, in particular, has made a big push to expand the popularity of its platform and online racing products, and this change could influence the future of competitive cycling as it makes competition more accessible to more riders.
Your Pre-season Heart Check-up List — sudden cardiac death (SCD) in athletes is a rare but devastating event, often affecting apparently healthy competitors with previously undiagnosed cardiovascular disease. The typical victim has no suspicion that they are at risk, and prior to the event may have even felt that they were in peak form. Sports medical screening programs are designed to attempt to identify potential cardiac risks in individuals who exhibit no outward symptoms of heart problems. The goal of such screening is to encourage participation in sports but to do it with a reasonable level of caution so as to ensure the safety of the participant. Certain individuals, who may be at higher risk, can be identified, and specific treatment plans can usually be recommended to allow their safe participation in athletics.
The All-Time Greatest Female Cyclists — naming the greatest women in the history of competitive cycling seems like a tall order, because women’s cycling appears, at first glance, not to have much history. But in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Women have raced on bicycles since the 1800s, just like men, and each new generation has produced a fresh crop of legends. While Women’s cycling lacks the comforting continuity of men’s cycling, we polled a number of former greats, authors, and historians to compile a comprehensive ranking of the top female cyclists across all time periods.
China is not the Solution — shockwaves went through the professional cycling world last fall after a mysterious group announced the formation of an inaugural Chinese UCI men’s WorldTour team. However, months after the initial announcement, there have been no updates from the mysterious group and it appears the much-publicized launch was more hype than substance and signals that professional cycling needs to stop looking to China for easy financial fixes.
Was Sky The Limit? — team Sky sent shockwaves through the cycling world in December when it announced that its owner/sponsors, Sky and 21st Century Fox, would cease funding the team following the 2019 season. The somber news begged the question of if the big-budget team would be able to replace their generous patron and replicate their historically large budget.
Ranking The Greatest Cyclists Of All Time — who are the greatest male cyclists of all time? That would make a good trivia question at the cycling club’s annual dinner, and it’s sure to provide fodder for unending debate. Most of us don’t know our cycling like we know our baseball. Any baseball fan past infancy knows the names Ruth and Gehrig, Mantle and Mays, Clemens and Bonds. But American cycling fans would be hard-pressed, I think, to remember — let alone spell — the names Joop Zoetemelk and Roger de Vlaeminck. Luckily, CyclingRanking.com, a well-researched and well-documented site attempts to list, in order, the greatest professional men’s cyclists of all time.
Moral Dilemmas In Pro Cycling – The Big Picture — several articles have recently appeared in the cycling media expressing outrage about the sport’s apparent willingness to tolerate unethical behavior, or to tacitly cozy up to various shady players, questionable companies or disreputable governments. It is certainly one of the primary roles and responsibilities of a free press to identify, root out and call to account parties or situations that may raise moral questions, or otherwise imply significant ethical challenges for the sport. However, we must be careful not to unreasonably single-out or over-simplify such situations. The overall picture can sometimes be much different, bigger, or more nuanced than narrowly focused concerns or stories suggest.
Cycling Must Uproot Its Sexist Culture — Cycling’s historical challenges with sexism and misogyny are almost legendary and it is our opinion that this incident emphatically underlines the fact that sexism remains a pervasive cultural and ethical cancer, one that has been eating away at all levels of the sport almost since its inception. Dealing with it in a more comprehensive way provides a unique opportunity to push for needed organizational reforms, and the UCI should make this a top priority.
Paul Sherwen’s Humanitarian Legacy — Paul Sherwen died unexpectedly in Kampala, Uganda on December 2, 2018. Along with his broadcast partner of over 30 years, Phil Liggett, he provided dynamic narration about the sport to millions of English speaking cycling fans worldwide. His storytelling was a gift that made racing understandable and the sport’s history relatable, and he provided an invaluable contribution by nurturing the emotional hook which connected many new fans to pro cycling. But sport was only one part of Sherwen and his life’s work, and the void he leaves transcends his impact on cycling. What most of the cycling world never saw was his tireless work in the service of others – as an entrepreneur, mentor, and humanitarian. Sherwen had another and entirely separate life in his adopted homeland of Uganda – completely beyond the narrow sphere of professional cycling – where his contributions were just as great.
McLaren Races to the Rescue? — just as Sky was announcing its departure from the sport a few weeks ago, motorsport giant McLaren signaled that they were on their way in – saying it would join up with the Bahrain-Merida pro cycling team as a sponsor and a reported 50-50 partner in the team’s ownership structure. Such a well-known international brand coming into the sport was quickly hailed as a game-changer for the team, and even for cycling as a whole. However, in this case, the narrative of a major international company bounding into the sport full bore is a little misleading.
Cycling’s Fine Line Between Strategy and Cheating — rational competitive strategies within pro cycling comprise a wide range of sometimes counter-intuitive incentives and unintended consequences – complicated situations where the individual rider or team may have strong and rational incentives to do something other than try to win the individual race. In this article, we examine the full spectrum of competitive circumstances – from sportsmanlike gestures or elaborate racing strategies, all the way to more suspicious circumstances. Where is the line between natural incentives and more dubious or potentially corrupt behavior?
Cycling With Coronary Artery Disease — coronary artery disease (CAD) or “blockage of the arteries,” is often a silent or unrecognized condition, but it is estimated to occur in as much as 50% of the population. For both serious recreational and more competitive cyclists, it is critical to regularly assess your cardiac health.
A Leader of American Cycling: Talking with Team Rally’s Jonas Carney — a detailed discussion about the status of pro cycling today, and how to recognize and nurture young talent, with one of America’s most successful coaches.
A New Motion Detection System – to Optimize Your Bike Fit and Performance — We take a look at a new motion detection and analysis system geared to optimizing bike fit and improving cycling performance.
The Tour of China – Chapter 1 — The Race That Could Have Changed Pro Cycling — In this three-part series, Steve Brunner, currently the President of KOM Sports Marketing, shares the highs and lows of this grand adventure. This chapter covers how the race came together, despite the odds. Part 2 will share many poignant episodes from the race, many of which have never been shared before. Part 3 will cover important business lessons Medalist learned, and which could benefit the sport today.
The Tour of China – Chapter 2 — Epic stories from an historic race.
The Tour of China – Chapter 3 — East meets west – Medalist’s marketing challenge
What Can Stop Team Sky at the 2019 Tour? — Spencer Martin examines the 2019 Tour de France route, and asks how Team Sky can be stopped from extending its recent dominance over the race.
Voting for the CPA’s Survival — The upcoming road cycling World Championships this week in Austria will be a battleground for medals, the hallowed rainbow jersey, and possibly the future direction of the sport. But there is also a looming battle on tap in Innsbruck for control of the professional men’s riders’ association – the CPA. As we have reported before, the CPA has struggled over the last few years to affirm its identity and future role as an athletes’ rights and advocacy body. It was this growing concern with the CPA’s leadership this season that caused two prominent member-nations in the CPA, the Netherlands and Belgium, to withdraw from the organization altogether. Yet it may be the CPA’s financial situation that will become the critical issue for this election, and for its immediate future prospects.
Trek Extends Sponsorship Approach to Women’s World Tour — Trek is one of the most innovative and progressive sponsors in global cycling. Its Trek Factory Racing program is comprised of a men’s WorldTour team, as well as mountain bike, cyclocross, enduro, and triathlon racing squads. It is already a fixture at the top of the sport, but now Trek is expanding its mission in 2019 by adding a Women’s WorldTour-level team.
The Athletes’ Right to Have a Voice — Play the Game (PTG) is a Denmark-based international conference and communication initiative which aims to strengthen the ethical foundation of sport and promote democracy, transparency and freedom of expression in sport. These are excerpts of a speech recently given by Jens Sejer Andersen, Play the Game’s International Director, to elite athletes at the WADA Global Athletes Forum held in Calgary, Alberta, 3 – 5 June, 2018.
Opening WADA’s Pandora’s Box — Drs. Paul Dimeo and Verner Moller argue that Chris Froome’s situation is likely to be the final damning indictment of anti-doping policy and tangible proof that the sport’s organizational failures demand urgent reform. The chaotic showdown between the UCI, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and ASO, shows that the global anti-doping system is completely broken. They that WADA’s scientific standards, sporting policies, and legal procedures never really worked from the start.
Time to Rethink the WADA Code — With Chris Froome’s case raising questions about the enforceability of anti-doping rules, and risky practices increasingly occurring at lower levels of the sport, Dr. John McGowan asks if it is time take a radically different approach to drug use in cycling.
Colorado Cycling’s “Field of Dreams” — The story of how a Colorado velodrome came to be a reality.
Gambling on Pro Cycling’s Future — The lack of an expanding and diverse fan base is close to the top of the list of pro cycling’s many economic challenges. But the sport may soon be able to literally bet on a bigger economic prize. The US Supreme Court recently struck down a 1992 Federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that effectively limited legal sports betting to one state. As a result, sports like cycling now have an open and legal pathway to start capitalizing on the estimated $150 billion in illegal wagers on professional and amateur sports that Americans already make every year.Legalized sports betting has potential to drive new fan interest in niche sports like pro cycling by creating a financial incentive for those fans to get more engaged in its history and competitive strategy, and in turn drive the demand for live viewership.
Belgian Riders Vote to Withdraw from CPA — While top Belgian riders have been riding to stage wins and stretches in various leaders jerseys in the Tour de France, word has leaked out that its professional riders association has voted to withdraw from the Cycliste Professionels Associes (CPA) international cycling union. According to Stijn Boeykens, the Director General of Sporta and its representative to the CPA, the riders called for and held an exit vote after the Belgian National Professional Championships in late June.
The USA – MIA at the Tour? — Author Daniel de Visé speculates on the lack of competitive American riders in this year’s Tour de France.
BMC in Crisis: The Same Old Problem — Pro cycling sponsorship presents a fickle and constantly changing business proposition – and new investment and sponsorship challenges are once again taking center stage. Just a few weeks ago, Deloitte Consulting was rumored to be the lifeline that would allow the soon-to-be-former Team BMC to continue as one of the WorldTour’s “super-teams.” However, it now appears that Deloitte’s appetite for investment is below what is needed to support BMC’s current reported $30 million annual budget, and without additional backing the team may now be headed for life support.
Armstrong’s Lawsuit Settlement as Pascal’s Wager — “Pascal’s Wager” is an elegant and simple philosophical principle that has stood the test of time. The 17th Century mathematician and Catholic theologian Blaise Pascal proposed that if we live a pious life and forego some of our earthly pleasures for the promise of entry into heaven, we have a chance for a happy and eternal afterlife. If we wager nothing and live a life of excess, we may be damned to hell for all eternity. Since we can’t prove or disprove the existence of God, Pascal argued it is safer to bet on the pious approach, giving up a little bit now just in case God does exist. We apply this argument to the recent Armstrong Federal case settlement.
“Beer Money” or “Nest Egg” – Revamping Cycling’s Prize System — Prize money has long been a significant driver of competitive choices and strategic behavior in pro cycling. But the prize system is also a highly bureaucratic and inequitable process, and above all, it doesn’t work to incentivize aggressive racing. Instead, this money needs to be redirected in a way that will benefit riders long-term, to shore up an underfunded pension system that has yet to meet the needs of retiring riders.
Lance Armstrong – Part 2 — Drilling Down on Some Practical Ideas for Pro Cycling’s Future: In this second part of our discussion with Armstrong, we discussed more substantive questions and discussed ideas for how the sport of pro cycling could be strengthened going forward.
SCAPEGOAT: The Travails of Michele Acquarone — Just five years ago, Italian Michele Acquarone was heralded as one of the true innovators and future leaders of professional cycling. He was exactly what pro cycling needed – a young, innovative and creative business leader; not a former cyclist wedded to the hidebound traditions and legacies of European cycling; willing to learn the intricacies of the sport, but not constrained by them. Yet one day in October 2013 was abruptly dismissed, and the story of what happened is still not clear.
Sudden Cardiac Death in Pro Cycling: In the wake of 23-year-old Michael Goolaerts’ tragic death during the recent edition of Paris-Roubaix, the general topic of sudden cardiac death is suddenly on the minds of a lot of cycling fans and riders. Although extremely rare, when an event like this does happen, it can lead to anxiety, worries and misinformation. In this article, we try to put this issue into clearer scientific context.
Tapping Cycling’s Hidden Goldmine – Part 2: In this article, we examine how a global television content delivery model could be built using the now ubiquitous over-the-top (OTT) web model, globally connecting the sport to its fans, attracting new fans, and opening new revenue opportunities.
Adapt or Die – Will Cycling Embrace the OTT Revolution? Part 1: Spencer Martin assesses the current situation in terms of producing and distributing pro cycling television content. Pro cycling’s crude “number of eyeballs” marketing method is failing to effectively distribute new digital content, and this places the sport’s visibility and fan growth in jeopardy.
The Anti-Doping Crisis in Sport: Causes, Consequences, Solutions — Drs. Paul Dimeo of Stirling University and Verner Moller of the University of Aarhus present a brief overview of their upcoming book on the global sports doping crisis.
Can Science Rescue Chris Froome? — Dr. Bill Apollo examines the current Chris Froome salbutamol adverse analytical finding from a medical perspective.
Medalist Sports: A Microcosm of U.S. Cycling — A history of the most widely-recognized and diversified bike race production company in the United States, and a discussion with its current owners about navigating the turbulent waters of changing venues, schedules, politics, sponsors, and race owners.
Lance Armstrong – Part 1: Looking to the Future — Armstrong talks about his life today, his cycling-related activities, and his current business initiatives.
The Human Rights Case That Could Change Global Cycling — while the eyes of global cycling were focused on the Tour de France this past July, the UCI found itself in a small Toronto courtroom, as one of the defendants opposite a little-known Canadian track cyclist named Kristen Worley. As a result of that under-reported hearing, the UCI faced the possibility of losing its Olympic charter and its oversight of global cycling. (December, 2017)
Starting with a Clean Slate — The recent announcement that Amaury Sports Organization’s (ASO) major women’s race, known as “La Course,” will once again last only a single day in July during the men’s Tour de France, was a sharp jab in the side of women’s cycling . However, it’s time to stop pointing fingers at ASO. The sport should talk about how it might plot a more successful path by developing its own agenda, priorities and schedule. (November, 2017)
The UCI Election: Time to Cast the Votes — in about a week, the national federations comprising the Union Cycliste International (UCI) will vote in Bergen, Norway to elect their next President. Incumbent Brian Cookson, now completing his first term as President, faces off against David Lappartient – the former President of the French Cycling Federation (FFC). In this article, we evaluate each candidate’s record. (September, 2017)
Canary in the Coal Mine? — the announcement that the Cannondale-Drapac pro cycling team may be on the brink of folding came as a surprise – though it probably shouldn’t have. Pro cycling is almost completely dependent on sponsorship to keep its economic wheels turning, and a sponsor’s decision to pull up and walk away can make or break a team in an instant. (September, 2017)
Pat McQuaid is Alive and Well — as Brian Cookson prepared to wrap up his first term as President of the UCI, we reached out to various leaders of the sport to assess the last four years and the priorities going forward. We started by connecting with McQuaid, to get his take on the state of the sport today, and various insights into sport’s possible future directions. (July, 2017)
Tour de Pharmacy‘s Tough Punchline — Cycling’s die-hard fans and its stakeholders are in for a rude awakening when HBO Films’ “mockumentary” Tour de Pharmacy airs on July 8th. There is an old adage – that often things said in jest are said half in truth. Satire and comedy often reflect the uncomfortable aspects of real life, and in this light some cycling fans may enjoy the program, but there will probably be just as many fans turned off or offended by the portrayal of our sport. (July, 2017)
Entering a New Dimension — in this article, we update our discussion a couple of years ago with Team Dimension Data general manager Doug Ryder. He has made major strides since then, and today the WorldTour’s sole African team is continuing to demonstrate an innovative model to improve the accessibility and sustainability of pro cycling. (May, 2017)
The Status of Women’s Pro Cycling – Part 3: Owning the Road Ahead — in this final article in the series, we turn towards the future, and propose ideas for a future roadmap, by which professional women cyclists and other key stakeholders can work together to bring positive change to the sport’s competitive landscape and economic future. (April, 2017)
Revitalizing American Bike Racing: A Talk with Michael Aisner – Part 2: In this second, article, we talk in more detail about some of Aisner’s key ideas and recommendations for stabilizing and revitalizing American cycling today. (February, 2017)
The Status of Women’s Cycling – Part 2: A Cultural Legacy of Sexism and Abuse: The second article in this series shares the personal accounts of various women who have experienced financial, psychological or physical abuse – their personal insights, and some of their recommendations about what needs to change inside the sport in order to break this cycles. (February,2017)
The High Priest of American Road Cycling: A Talk With Michael Aisner – Part 1 — the Coors Classic was, in many ways, the brainchild of impresario and director Michael Aisner. In Part1 of our discussion with Aisner, we revisit the influence of the race, and his innovative approaches to connect with fans and communities that is still being felt today. (January, 2017)
The Status of Women’s Cycling – Part 1: A Discussion with Iris Slappendel — in the first of a three-part series, The Outer Line talks with recently retired Dutch rider Iris Slappendel, and gets her take on what needs to occur to make women’s cycling more popular and how to develop a more sustainable financial model for the sport (January, 2017)
Executive Summary: Review and Audit of the Cycliste Professionnels Associés (CPA) — a brief summary of the detailed external audit and review project, mentioned just below. (December, 2016)
The Performance and Effectiveness of the Cycliste Professionnels Associés (CPA): An External Audit and Review — a comprehensive independent review and analysis of the Cycliste Professionnels Associés (CPA) – professional road cycling’s athlete representation organization. The Outer Line takes an in-depth look at the current status and gaps within the CPA, and provides detailed recommendations for how to make it a more powerful voice for the riders in the future. (December, 2016)
Cycling TV – An Over The Top Revolution — we look at how pro cycling can turn its viewership model around, and increase profitability by adopting the on-demand Over-The-Top (OTT) web streaming model – similar to what many specialty broadcast channels like Netflix, and even some major sports leagues have already successfully done. (November, 2016)
Pay to Play? — UCI and ASO seem incapable of breaking their long standing stalemate over how the sport should be run, and as a result, their proxy war continues to dominate pro cycling’s political and governance landscape. So why did they agree to back-track, and decide to allow 18 teams in the 2017 WorldTour after all? (October, 2016)
Whither the Giro? — Rumors have recently circulated around the industry that both ASO and the Chinese Wanda Group have expressed interest in acquiring the Giro. Will new ownership of the parent RCS Mediagroup make a possible deal for the Giro more likely, or less likely? (October, 2016)
Treating or Cheating? The TUE Question — is the TUE is a fair means of preserving health and equitable career opportunities, or is it simply another loop-hole which can be exploited by certain athletes, eager to win at any cost. We talk to a range of medical experts to assess the current controversy. (October, 2016)
Black and White Anti-Doping Fight Nears Stalemate – Here’s How to Break It — a guest editorial written by the anti-doping researcher Dr. Paul Dimeo of the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom. He reviews the current controversies in different approach to controlling doping, and recommendations for how to solve the current fix. (September, 2016)
Calling Time Out On the Team Time Trial — the AIGCP announces that it will boycott the Team Time Trial to be held at the upcoming World Championship in Qatar. This potential walkout highlights the teams’ growing discontent with the UCI, and their frustration with not having enough input in how to run their own businesses – but can they make it stick? (August, 2016)
Academia’s Role in Anti-Doping – In Microcosm and Big Picture — a look at the recent hiring and then rapid dismissal of Dr. Paul Dimeo as Chairman of USA Cycling’s newly formed anti-doping committee. What happened, what could have been done better, and what can this unfortunate event teach us as cycling tries to strengthen its anti-doping strategies. (July, 2016)
UCI Scorecard: Are the CIRC Recommendations Being Implemented? — The Outer Line takes an in-depth look at what progress the UCI has made, in terms of implementing the recommendations of the March, 2015 Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) Report. (July, 2016)
A Crazy Idea, or a Sure Bet? — some speculations on how star riders could reinvent the team organization model and create new sponsorship initiatives in pro cycling. It’s an area that cries out for creative rethinking. In many other sports, the athletes themselves have forced change – by mobilizing their influence, changing the balance of power, and pushing forward new business models. (June, 2016)
The Athletes’ Commission: Traksel Gaining Traction — an interview with former racer Bobbie Traksel, who has just been elected President of the UCI’s Athletes Commission. Traksel talks about his perspective on where the sport is today, and how to strengthen the voice of the riders in the future. (April, 2016)
Breaking Away – From the Tour de France — Is the Tour de France the key event in pro cycling, or is an anchor holding the sport back? There is a way to break ASO’s deadlock on the sport’s power structure, and move pro cycling towards a more sustainable economic system, that expands revenue potential and creates a model for equitable profit sharing. (February, 2016)
Full Circle: Cycles in American Track Racing — an historical review and analysis of decline of track racing in the United States, and some recommendations for what it will take to bring the sport back. (January, 2016)
ASO’s Game of Monopoly — ASO says the move to pull its races out of the WorldTour will preserve an open and more competitive sport. But closer analysis shows that it will inflict severe economic pressure on the teams and marginalize the economic aspirations of the riders – while further strengthening ASO’s competitive advantage. (December, 2015)
Fiddling While Rome Burns? — the UCI announces its latest set of marginal reforms, and ASO fires off its latest salvo – threatening to pull out of the WorldTour – as an emerging Chinese sports and entertainment giant begins to sniff around the world of pro cycling. (December, 2015)
New Twists on Sponsorship: Good or Bad? — Sponsorship has always been the critical financial under-pinning of professional cycling, and is always something of an economic gamble. Recent sponsorship deals at Dimension Data and Etixx-Quickstep tweak some of the traditional models. (October, 2015)
Leading By Example: A Discussion With Marco Pinotti — Now a coach with Team BMC and a member of the UCI’s Pro Cycling Council, Marco Pinotti was one of the most respected racers in the pro peloton over the past decade. Here, we get his opinion on several of the structural and organizational challenges facing the sport. (October, 2015)
Kill Your Television — a detailed look at the role television has played in the growth of pro cycling, the challenges of controlling costs and developing new content, and how new distribution models may impact the televising of the sport in the future. (September, 2015)
Changing Gears: How a Stronger Union Could Improve Pro Cycling — a look back at why a strong rider’s association has never developed in pro cycling, and how a stronger union could help not only the individual athletes, but also the overall sport, to develop greater economic sustainability. (August, 2015)
Pro Cycling’s Family Feud – and How to Solve It — the coming battle between ASO and the other key stakeholders in the sport – the teams and the UCI – for supremacy in pro cycling, and some constructive ideas for how to solve this long-running feud in the sport. (July, 2015)
The International Pro Cycling League (IPCL) – An Overview — a summary of The Outer Line’s comprehensive business plan and financial forecast for a new, independently-owned pro cycling league, and a full set of background assumptions and changes to restructure and revitalize pro cycling. (June, 2015)
Andy Hampsten: Looking Back and Looking Forward — an in-depth discussion with the 1988 Giro d’Italia winner – still the only American winner of that Grand Tour – and his thoughts and insights about where pro cycling is headed in the future. (May, 2015)
Home Sweet Home: How U.S. Racing Can Reshape Pro Cycling — an in-depth review of American men’s road racing, current and historical challenges, and interviews with key race promoters and organizers. A wide ranging discussion of ideas and recommendations for strengthening and rebuilding the historical popularity of American pro cycling. (May, 2015)
The World Championships: An Opportunity to Change U.S. Cycling – a look at the upcoming UCI World Road Racing Championships to be held in Richmond, Virginia in September 2015; an interview with Tim Miller, the CEO of Richmond 2015, and a discussion of how this event can be leveraged to strengthen the U.S. cycling environment. (May, 2015)
The Path to Parity – a review of the challenges and opportunities presented by professional women’s bike racing; a look at the emerging Women’s Cycling Association, and a discussion of various ideas and strategies for growing the sport in the future. (March, 2015)
The CIRC Report – A Missed Opportunity — The Outer Line weighs in on the recent report of the Cycling Independent Reform Commission, pointing out both the positive findings and conclusions of the report as well as the shortcomings – particularly in terms of its future recommendations. (March, 2015)
Out of Africa: How MTN-Qhubeka’s Model May Change Pro Cycling — a story about MTN-Qhubeka – an emerging South African team driven by a different and unique philosophy – one which may eventually impact pro cycling at the highest level, and help to evolve the sport towards a more sustainable model. (February, 2015)
Team Optum: A Model for the Future? — a story about Team Optum, (presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) – a domestic U.S. team which offers a sustainable model of both competitive success and sound business management. (December, 2015)
Changing the Business Model (6): Rethinking the Governance of Pro Cycling — discussion and recommendations of new approaches for the oversight and governance of professional cycling. (December, 2014)
Changing the Business Model (5): Setting a New Ethical Standard in Pro Cycling — ideas for how professional cycling could adopt a formal set of ethical standards for its riders, teams or governing officials. (December, 2014)
Changing the Business Model (4): A New Approach to Anti-Doping — some new ideas about anti-doping, and a broad conceptual outline for the application of the professional certification model to pro sports – and the creation of an independent Cycling Certification Program. (November, 2014)
Changing the Business Model (3): Modernizing the Calendar and Competitive Structure — an examination of ideas for modernizing the way the game is organized and played – to promote greater economic stability and revenue growth, increase fan interest and global visibility, and encourage greater focus on the team. (November, 2014)
The Dog Ate My Homework — a brief discussion by Dr. William Apollo of the potential for false positives in dope testing and the intrinsic uncertainties of analytical testing – what causes this inherent ambiguity, what can we do to control it, and what types of test results should we perhaps not even be concerned about? (October, 2014)
Changing the Business Model (2): Building the Sponsorship Base — a discussion of pro cycling’s overwhelming dependence on commercial sponsorship for its financial viability – and how to identify, attract and retain larger and more global sponsors in the future. (October, 2014)
Changing the Business Model (1): Strengthening the Financial Foundation — this article analyzes the financial challenges and unique business uncertainties that cycling has historically faced, and suggests new strategies for generating greater revenue, and ways to share that revenue for the benefit of all of the sport’s stakeholders. (October, 2014)
Changing the Business Model of Pro Cycling: Introduction — The Outer Line begins a multi-part series of articles which will explore specific, innovative and actionable solutions to some of the economic, structural, ethical and governance challenges facing pro cycling. (September, 2014)
Anti-Doping: Is the Cure Worse Than the Disease? — Professors Paul Dimeo and Verner Møller assert that the current approach to anti-doping in pro cycling has resulted in an array of unintended consequences, inconsistent and inequitable application of the rules, and a situation where anti-doping efforts may actually be doing more harm than good. (September, 2014)
Perspectives on Doping in Pro Cycling – 3: Will Frischkorn – the retrospective of a clean rider competing in pro cycling’s modern doping era of the last fifteen years, recently retired Garmin racer Will Frischkorn shares his experiences and outlooks. (July, 2014)
Perspectives on Doping in Pro Cycling – 2: Inga Thompson – phenomenal 1980s and 1990s road racing prodigy Inga Thompson shares her perspectives and experiences in the womens’ peloton, and how she believes she was forced out for refusing to join a systematic doping program. (June, 2014)
Perspectives on Doping in Pro Cycling – 1: Theo de Rooij – first in a series of perspectives about doping and how it has affected professional cycling in the modern era: the experiences and insights of former Dutch racer and Rabobank team manager Theo de Rooij. (June, 2014)
Changing Pro Cycling: The Perspective of Travis T. Tygart – an in-depth interview with U.S. Anti-Doping Chief Travis Tygart, which includes his approach to fairness in sports, and the need for anti-doping education, prevention, and other changes to create a level playing field in professional cycling. (June, 2014)
Setting a New Ethical Standard in Pro Cycling – Like most professional sports, cycling has never adopted a formal set of ethical standards for its riders, teams or governing officials. In this post we discuss the advantages of ethics training and guidelines, and why sports should adopt incentives for athletes to do the right thing, even when “no one is looking.” (April, 2014)
Changing Pro Cycling: The Perspective of Hein Verbruggen – a detailed discussion about potential future solutions for various problems in pro cycling, with the former long-time President of the Union Cycliste International (UCI). (March, 2014)
Doped Athletes as Enhancement Models for the 21st Century – a paper by University of Texas Professor Dr. John Hoberman reviewing today’s array of personal enhancement products, society embracing doping as the norm due to advertising and media desensitization, and the challenges elite athletes face against this evolving doping landscape. (January, 2014)
Nineteen Eighty-Three – a critical discussion of the techniques of modern doping in cycling, and the historical time-frame which should be investigated by the UCI’s newly-minted Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC). (January, 2014)
Pay Now, or Pay Later? – a critical analysis of the financial costs of conducting a full Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, versus the total long-term economic costs to professional cycling of proceeding ahead with a simpler, cheaper and less rigorous investigation. (January, 2014)
The Forgive Me Roadshow – a viewpoint and discussion of Lance Armstrong’s efforts to repair his public image following his doping admissions in early 2013, in contrast to the efforts of others to clean up sports. (December, 2013)
Cycling in the Balance: A Discussion with Michele Acquarone – a detailed discussion with the former Director of the Giro d’Italia about possible economic, structural and commercial changes to improve the future of pro cycling. (December, 2013)
Fair Treatment Through Comparative Justice – a brief discussion of the concept of comparative justice, and how it has been incorporated in historical truth and reconciliation commission processes. (November, 2013)
Independent Commission vs. Truth and Reconciliation Commission – a detailed explanation of the key attributes of the Truth and Reconciliation process, how it might be applied to pro cycling, and its advantages when compared historically to other less comprehensive types of investigative commissions. (November, 2013)
A Roadmap to Repair Pro Cycling – Overview: a summary of our detailed, specific and actionable plan to repair and grow the sport of pro cycling.