An early season look into the future
It's only March, but that doesn't prevent me from making educated guesses on the whole 2012 season.
An interesting story from Bloomberg hit the wire the other week - the return of the breakaway league. No, this isn't a Steven Spielberg sequel, but an attempt by a sports marketing company, Gifted Group Ltd, to create a ten race series that would be contested not only in Europe, but also Asia and the U.S.
Now you're thinking to yourself, "Where are they going to place these ten races on the calendar?" At this point that hasn't been revealed, but what is certain is that these new races won't conflict with the A.S.O.'s Tour de France and according to Bloomberg, eight other high profile races.
I think we can assume that those other high profile races would be the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a España, and a selection from the monuments such as Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. But what happens to the rest of the calendar? As a buddy told me, "there's not a lot of oxygen in the race calendar to support these other new races."
So if this new breakaway league actually comes to fruition what's the reason for teams to participate in these new events? Good question and as expected the answer is cash.
Teams racing in this new series will get 64-percent of the equity of the series - which means television revenue - something team owners have been trying to get at for a couple of years. Most notably Gamin-Barracuda director Jonathan Vaughters. But let's not forget Johan Bruyneel, manager of the RadioShack-Nissan team. It has been reported that The Shack squad has already signed up for the new league, which is set to roll out in 2014.
2014 may be too far away for Team RadioShack. Lee Applbaum was the chief marketing officer for the struggling electronic store. Last Tuesday he announced on Twitter, "Been a great 3.5 years @RadioShack. Hopeful I had a positive impact on the brand. On to the next one." When he was reached for comment he replied that it was time to move onto the next adventure - that sounds like code for, "I was asked to turn in my company key card" and an unsubstantiated rumor had it that a maintenance crew was already scrubbing his name off his VIP parking spot.
But really you can't fault RadioShack. They continue to take a pounding from the competition. And in addition to losing money on the retail side, the Texas based company becomes a title sponsor for a cycling team that makes its biggest impact in Europe where there are zero RadioShack stores. You need to question that business decision.
Someone who works in the administrative side of the team told me Applbaum was a super fan and carried the flag for sponsoring a cycling team. With the rest of the RadioShack board of directors not quite the über fans I wouldn't expect the RadioShack kit to line up in any race in 2014. Come this July I expect to see Bruynel out on the sponsor hunt looking to bag that next elusive sugar daddy.
Speaking of sugar