Cycling Teams Hire Ex-Liverpool Executive to Lead Joint Venture

Graham Bartlett, a former commercial manager of Liverpool soccer club, was hired to run a company set up to represent the interests of 11 professional cycling teams.

The joint venture, Velon, derived from the French word for bicycle, aims to create a “better economic future for the sport,” according to statements released by several of the squads, which include British Sky Broadcasting Plc’s Team Sky, Tinkoff-Saxo, and BMC Racing.

It’s the latest effort by teams to strengthen their finances, which mostly come from sponsors and can collapse if backers withdraw. Unlike in other sports such as soccer, cycling teams don’t get a share of television rights from race organizers including Amaury Sport Organisation, or ASO, which runs the Tour de France.

“The existing, sponsor only, business model is fragile for all teams,” Bartlett, the new chief executive officer, said.

The newly formed group will push for changes in the racing calendar, the use of technology to show “the fans what it’s like from the saddle,” and increased financial co-operation between teams and organizers.

In February 2013, a BskyB executive and attorney held talks with teams about setting up a new championship called World Series Cycling led by two former soccer executives, Jonathan Price and Thomas Kurth.

That proposal, which didn’t have the support of cycling authorities and subsequently stalled, had included plans to give teams a stake in the business.

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