A collection of stories, news and information that we thought you might find interesting and relevant.
- One benefit of COVID has been that in many of the largest cities in the world, governments have prioritized improving cycling infrastructure. Also, programs like ActiveTO have made it easier and safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Sadly, the government made a recent announcement that ActiveTO will be cut back. In response, the Globe and Mail posted an opinion piece this week on why Toronto Should Be Expanding ActiveTO, Not Cutting It Back.
- “The long parade of commercial brands entering cycling sponsorships, only to flee the sport months later, continued this week when the Canadian firm Premier Tech – which was the co- co-sponsor of the Astana-Premier Tech team – announced that they would be stepping back at the end of the 2021 and returning sole control of the team to the Kazakh shareholders. This shocking evaporation of the recently-formed partnership reverses a trend of the Canadian influence on the team, which culminated with the team’s former boss, controversial former Olympic Champion Alexander Vinokourov, being fired from his role as team principal just days before the 2021 Tour de France. According to reports, the firing of Vinokourov was a breaking point for the Kazakhstani sovereign wealth fund Samruk Kazyna, who has been the team’s main financial support. Allegedly, when the Kazakh interests demanded Vinokourov be reinstated, Premier Tech decided to walk away. It’s not clear how this will play out for the team, or its current Managing Director Yana Seel, who will likely struggle to find new sponsorship. According to Seel, the funds from Premier Tech “have been instrumental” in the survival of the team. Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time Vinokourov had been forced out by Canadian partners. A former employee of the team alleges that he was fired, and then re-hired the following day, during the 2020 season due to an internal squabble between the dueling Canadian and Kazakh decision-makers.” – From the Outer Line.
- A major rush of rider signings occurred this week, with the cycling transfer market officially opening on August 1st. We were surprised to see Peter Sagan announce he would be moving from Bora-Hansgrohe to French second-division squad Team Total Energies and that bike sponsor Specialized would be making the move with him. Rumour has it he will be adding a few gravel and mountain bike events to his schedule in 2022. The trend of pro riders crossing disciplines in the coming years will only grow stronger.
- “There have been early reports that Olympic TV viewership was down significantly, with just 17 million people watching the opening ceremony, down 36 percent from the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. Given this significant decline in viewership, NBC Sports was reportedly in negotiations with key advertisers to work out how to make up for the decline in viewership. As the Games reached the halfway mark, average viewership across all of NBC’s outlets was 42 percent lower than at the Rio Games. The various reasons cited for this drop in audience were the lack of on-site spectators, the impacts of Covid-19, and the wide time difference between Japan and western Europe. The withdrawal of superstar gymnast Simon Biles from several events also created another heavy blow to viewership. At the same time, the IOC played down the impact of the lack of spectators, saying that fans have gotten used to watching sports with fewer, or no, fans. But while it is important to keep in mind that while a 42 percent drop in viewership sounds dramatic, live TV viewing habits have changed dramatically during the past five years, and viewership for all sports events isdown dramatically. If this trend continues, it seems likely that bidding levels for sports TV rights will start to decline, which in turn will put even more pressure on professional leagues to build out their own DTC or pay-per-view channels.” – From The Outer Line