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What Next for Africa’s Team Qhubeka-Nexthash?

On September 30, unable to find sufficient future sponsorship funds to meet an October filing deadline for the 2022 UCI WorldTour, Qhubeka-NextHash team principal Doug Ryder released his riders from their contractual commitments to the squad. Several were quick to move on to other teams, including top riders Victor Campenaerts back to Lotto-Soudal and Giacomo Nizzolo off to Israel Start-Up Nation. Meanwhile, Ryder continues his struggle to nail down new sponsors and keep the South Africa-based team afloat at the WorldTour level. Ryder spoke with The Outer Line on October 20, laying out the team’s situation and plans. “We have basically been working non-stop since September of 2019 [when title sponsor NTT pulled out] to secure our longer-term future,” says Ryder. “We’ve fought through the challenges of COVID, and we’ve been able to bring some new partners into the team. We didn’t quite...

The UCI Approaches a Sportswashing Crossroads

The collective focus of professional cycling is transfixed on this week’s world road championships in the Flanders region of Belgium, the spiritual heart of European road racing. Cycling’s best riders are going all-out for the honor of competing for a world champion’s rainbow jersey. Meanwhile, behind the scenes and among other sporting topics, the UCI will be debating venues for future world championships. Some of the winning bids will be announced before the week is over. One of the likely future venues could represent the first-ever UCI road worlds to be held on African soil, as Rwanda’s bid appears to be the frontrunner for the 2025 slot. This is not entirely unexpected. Bicycles are a primary source of transportation and commerce in Africa, and Rwanda has hosted one of the longest-lived and most respected stage races on the continent, with tough terrain, a reputation for...

The Riders Union Prepares to Challenge the Status Quo

The Riders Union (TRU), which was established late last year to represent the men’s professional peloton, has fought to gain broader awareness and acceptance among the riders and with cycling’s governing bodies. At last count, the organization claimed more than 200 dues-paying members from 30 countries, representing most of the UCI WorldTour and ProTour teams. Among the group’s charter members are influential riders such as Wout Van Aert, Chris Froome, André Greipel, Tom Dumoulin, and Bob Jungels. Since its inception, TRU has strived to maintain and build a good relationship with the UCI and other cycling bodies. However, the incumbent rider organization, the CPA (Cyclistes Professionnels Associés), has long claimed to exclusively represent professional cyclists and is the only athlete body formally recognized by the UCI. As such, the CPA receives considerable funding from the sport’s...

Should Pro Cycling Consider a Salary Cap?

Background A recent UCI Survey found that the dominance of big-budget cycling teams is hurting fan’s enjoyment of the sport. Teams with the ability to outspend rivals have aggregated much of the top talent in the sport and become increasingly dominant in pro cycling. This dulls some of the sport’s competitive uncertainty, and sports fans, in general, aren’t going to be as interested in watching bike races if they think the outcome is predictable. Fewer fans lead to lower sponsorship value of the sport, which in turn can potentially reduce revenues and cut the number of sponsors in an already tenuous UCI teams’ model. Team Sky/Ineos has famously enjoyed a budget that dwarfs most of the other squads in pro cycling and as a result, has dominated key events in the sport for much of the last decade. Although the team’s success has waned over the last couple of years, other teams have copied...

Review of The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World

Prominent athletes have often taken a public and activist stance on the major social and political issues of the day. In one of the most iconic examples — just months after the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy — Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists during the U.S. national anthem at the Mexico City Olympics to protest the suffering of Black Americans. The photo of the two on the podium after dominating the 200-meter race is perhaps one of the most indelible images of the 1960s. But the history of athlete activism didn’t begin with Smith and Carlos – and it certainly didn’t end there. Just a year earlier the dominant running back in pro football, Jim Brown, along with basketball stars Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor), staged a widely watched event in Cleveland to build public support for Muhammad Ali, the...

Are one-week stage races In trouble?

Tadej Pogačar has made it clear, through the first 10 stages of the 2021 Tour de France, that he is a step above the rest of the field. Barring catastrophes, he will likely defend his title, ending the Tour’s current interregnum and launching pro cycling into a new “Pogačar era.” His Slovenian countryman Primož Roglič, despite crashing hard in stage 3, powered on but ultimately retired before the start of stage 9. But when healthy, Roglič is still one of the only riders remotely in the young star’s league. Outside of their country of origin and their recent domination of the sport, the two Slovenians share another interesting storyline: their abandonment of the traditional pre-Tour one-week stage races. Both riders skipped any combination of those three races (the Tour de Romandie, Critérium du Dauphiné, and Tour de Suisse) that have served as key Tour tune-up events for decades. Also,...