I’m going to use this seldom-used blog to experiment a bit with different WordPress “themes”, trying to get away from the same look everyone else has and move to something a bit more newspaper-like and appropriate for blogs that get a lot of updates (like the “diary” site). I’m working on getting the header image to change right now, with little success! –Mike–
Ray Keener, one of the more-thoughtful and intelligent members of the bicycle biz, wrote a piece for Bicycle Retailer that, in a nutshell, says that Lance was not good, and potentially bad, for cycling. You can read his piece here; my response is below. –Mike–
Ray: You’re a reasonable guy and I generally agree with most things you write. But in this case it appears that you decided first that Lance was bad (or at best neutral) for the industry and then searched for facts to support that belief.
For example the choice of using 2009 for *any* forward-looking comparison is suspect. 2009 was a disaster for our industry but not because of Lance or doping scandals. It was a disaster for the world economy. Maybe Boulder got by unscathed but Silicon Valley sure didn’t. And if instead of 2009 you use either 2008 or 2010 you get a very different story. How different? About 20% different!
Participation figures are more discouraging, showing a downward trend in raw numbers of “participants” but these figures as well are suspect at least as far as our part of the industry is concerned. The majority of “participants” are not cyclists; anyone who has simply ridden around the block is considered a “participant.” If we were to measure miles ridden and participation in Centuries Gran Fondos and the various benenfit rides would the story be the same? I don’t think so.
Further you ignore the wane & wan of the typical product cycle and its impact on your numbers. The mountain bike had peaked and was on a decline and I don’t think many feel Lance had much to do with the fortunes & misfortunes of that part of the market. For what it’s worth my take on Lance’s value and sales in our stores are that it was significant for the first three years and after that was a benefit spread pretty wide among road bikes in general rather than specifically Trek.
There comes a point of saturation; the message to “Buy a Trek because that’s what Lance rides” is susceptible to so many people and then they’ve bought their bikes and you get a backlash effect of “everyone’s got a Trek I want something different.” Other brands found ways to capitalize on this including different value propositions (lower pricing for a given set of components and tell people “Our bike is just as good maybe better and costs less because you’re not paying for Lance!”). We felt both of those so please before anyone assumes that a non-Trek dealer couldn’t survive because they didn’t have Lance think again. The manufacturers and IBDs are smarter than that.
But it’s obvious that Trek has received great benefit from their association with Lance and it’s equally obvious that Trek is aware that Lance is not enough. Trek has put much of their profit back into advocacy and works entirely unrelated to Lance that should have a greater effect long-term on getting those “once around the block” folk to view their bike as a serious utilitarian vehicle.
To sum up Trek did not mortgage their future through supporting Lance and it’s entirely possible that without Lance during the 2000-2005 period (industry-wide) sales could have been substantially lower than they were.
Thanks Mike Jacoubowsky Partner Chain Reaction Bicycles (Redwood City & Los Altos California… not the mail-order place in the UK)
This is for my own benefit as much as anything else; a central place to put information relevant to anyone heading to the Tour de France this year. For now it’s just going to be links without organization, all in this one post, without an order.
Sorry, this blog has become a poor step-child of the main one at Chain Reaction! But with the racing season really getting underway with Milan San Remo in just a few hours, it’s time to get back to work. For starters, we need to go over the Contador doping issue. First he’s suspended, then let off the hook by his own government’s cycling federation, and now the UCI, the overall governing board for professional cycling world-wide, appears ready to appeal the local federation’s dismissal and reinstate the suspension. Things should be getting interesting very shortly!
One thing in Contador’s favor is the recent testing of 28 athletes returning from China, 22 of whom tested positive for Clenbuterol, the same drug Contador was busted for. The significance here is that it’s highly unlikely those athletes were actually doping but had, in fact, eaten contaminated beef.
No big surprise- Lance will be doing Triathlons in 2011, including the World Championship. Thanks to Mark P for sending me the link. He was in the shop just yesterday when we were talking about when Lance might make the move, and voila, this morning comes confirmation that it’s sooner rather than later. For us Trek dealers, the writing was on the wall when we saw the HUGE new commitment Trek made to the Tri market this year. We’ve now got the coolest, fastest Tri-bikes on the market! And now quite possibly the fastest person riding one. –Mike–
This is the first Vuelta that I’ve really paid much attention to, even though RadioShack/Trek was excluded. Seems like a much more interesting course this year; none of those endless days through dry scrub with no signs of people like we’ve seen in the past. Finally, Spain looks like a place worth visiting!
As for Nibali, I think we’re looking at the future. He’s young, strong in the mountains, and doesn’t suck at time trials. If he gets strong support from his team, I’m thinking he’s potentially the equal of Andy Schleck, maybe better, for the GC in the Tour de France next year. I’m not convinced that Alberto Contador is unbeatable, just not sure who it is that’s likely to beat him. It could be Nibali.
I signed up for the $14.99 Universal Sports on-demand Vuelta coverage over the Internet, and, well, it works… but it’s not anywhere near as polished as the VS TdF stuff on VS. It’s considerably more difficult to find where you need to go (after signing up), not as easy to select stages, and the first couple hours “feature” the same boring guy they use for the TdF coverage before Phil & Paul come on. So maybe the only thing that’s actually similar is the quality of the video feed itself, which is pretty decent.
Locally, the coverage is shown over-the-air on channel 11-3, several times a day. I’ll confess that I rarely watch more than the last hour if it’s a hilly stage, and often only the last 20 minutes if it’s flat.
It looks like tomorrow’s Vuelta stage is almost completely flat until the final few miles and then… total carnage. The sprinters will all be together with the main peloton, maybe even ahead if somehow a break of just people going for the green (sprinter’s) jersey has been established. Wouldn’t that be something, seeing Mark Cavendish in a breakaway on a mountain stage? But that scenario won’t likely play out because Thor Hushovd can not only sprint but also has shown that he can climb when the mood strikes, and the real climbers aren’t going to let a sprinter win this stage.
According to this article in Velonews, Radioshack (and, more importantly, Chris Horner) will be racing the Giro di Lombardia classic! It was all some sort of misunderstanding.
Earlier in the season, the Radioshack pro bike team (the one that Lance Armstrong rides for) decided not to ride the Giro d’Italia, the first of the Grand Tours (followed by the Tour de France and the Vuelta/Tour of Spain). The thinking was that it was more important, strategically and for training purposes, to ride the Tour of California instead. This didn’t go over very well with the Giro organizers, who were hoping to see the big crowds that Lance brought them last year. One thing led to another and eventually, the Vuelta excluded the team as well, claiming that Radioshack’s proposed lineup wasn’t strong enough… which is nuts because, while the Radioshack team is lacking in star power this year (Lance is well past his prime, as shown in the Tour de France), it has amazing depth, and it would have been awesome to see Chris Horner riding a Grand Tour as a “protected” rider, capable of landing on the podium.
Momentum sometimes works for you, sometimes against. Right now, it’s against, as the Giro di Lombardia organizers went with the flow and excluded Radioshack from the final big race of the year… even though the team apparently has a contract guaranteeing them entry. Right now it’s in the hands of the CAS, the binding arbitration panel that has the final say in such things. Supposedly the team is asking for damages, but it’s more likely they’re hoping for a compromise that lets them into this final big race.
One thing’s almost certain. Radioshack won’t be a sponsor the second the current contract runs out. They were likely expecting Lance to do better in the TdF, and the lack of exposure due to exclusions from the other races means that they’re just not getting their money’s worth out of it. They can’t be. Add to that the widening allegations regarding doping on Lance’s past teams, and it’s pretty tough to rationalize hanging in there as a sponsor. This could end up like Telekom, which pulled out of sponsorship after that team’s latest doping scandal, but their money stayed… giving Bill Stapleton, the head of the team, time to get things fixed while keeping the team going, eventually morphing into HTC-Columbia. But who would be in charge? I can’t see Johan Bruyneel hanging around the remnants of a team that isn’t going to challenge any of the Grand Tours in 2011.