2019 was a year of growth and diversification for The Outer Line. We continue to provide the most in-depth analysis and commentary on the pro cycling scene – particularly in terms of economic and governance. Our new partner Spencer Martin has sparked more long-form coverage of racing as well. We continue to develop a closer relationship with VeloNews, contributing a feature article almost every week. And we continue to build a growing stable of experienced outside collaborators including cardiologist Bill Apollo, sports marketing executive Steve Brunner, veteran Dutch journalist Raymond Kerckhoffs, Belgian economist Daam van Reeth and author Daniel de Vise, among others.
Highlighting just a few of our most popular governance articles this year, we looked in detail at the latest teams’ challenge to the UCI’s rule, we suggested some simple ways that cycling could streamline its archaic rider transfer rules, and we explored how cycling can avoid the “sports-washing” conflicts that have ensnared other pro sports. The 10-part Rapha Roadmap (for which we were two of the four primary authors) was probably the most detailed economic/governance review and set of recommendations ever prepared in this sport.
From the racing perspective, we parsed the available data to answer the question – who is the best rider of the post-Armstrong era? We were among the first to really dig into the details behind the resurgence of Team Jumbo-Visma, we examined the intriguing and fine line between strategy and cheating that is unique to pro cycling, and with Kerckhoffs did several looks at the force of nature known as Mathieu van der Poel. We investigated whether the Race Across America is the toughest event in cycling, and with de Vise, we attempted to answer the question – who are the greatest cyclists of all time, both men and women.
On a more personal level, we conducted in-depth interviews with various leaders around the sport, including a three-part discussion with former USAC head and UCI heavyweight Mike Plant, and successful team Twenty20 manager Nicola Cranmer. We wrote an exhaustive piece on the humanitarian legacy of Paul Sherwen, summarizing his voluminous good works outside of cycling, which few in the sport were even aware of. Later, Brunner summarized the impact of Sherwen’s loss on the NBC announcing team. And closer to our own work we took a detailed business look at survival tactics in today’s cycling media business, and Dr. Apollo investigated the question of whether it’s possible to actually pedal ourselves to death.
Because we have no sponsors or financial motivations, we believe we can continue to write objectively and critically about the most important issues in the sport. We love what we do, and we do it out of a genuine passion and belief in the power and potential of the sport. One of our personal highlights this year was a top official referring to The Outer Line as the “Harvard Business Review” of cycling. But we need your comments, critiques and insights to allow us to continue our unique coverage of the sport.
We look forward to continuing the dialogue in the new year, and wish everyone a happy and productive 2020!
Steve Maxwell / Joe Harris / Spencer Martin
The Outer Line
Boulder, Colorado / Portland, Oregon