Is Oleg Crazy?
Photo credit: http://www.atwistedspoke.com/tinkofs-outrageous-move/
People say Oleg's crazy because he’s so different. He's probably become so accustomed to getting his own way that he thinks differently to all of us that aren’t billionaires. He also loves the limelight, and intentionally pulls stunts to play on his reputation, and maybe just occasionally tweets his thoughts after a few vodkas - much to the delight and entertainment of everyone except those on the receiving end.
To me, this type of “crazy” is good - it brings colour to our sport, and it certainly doesn’t mean he’s silly. This type of crazy can be disruptive. Oleg truly believes he can change the world of professional cycling.
Recently many commentators in the media have flagged concern over the lack of a coherent world tour calendar, and the calculation of world tour rankings of riders and teams is opaque at best. Despite the rise of the mamil (?) and huge gains in popularity worldwide - even if perceptions change with regards to cycling's dirty history - if cycling is not easy for fans to follow, it will always be a fringe sport. It is here that Oleg sees the real issue. While everyone understands the TDF to a degree, the rest of the cycling season is disjointed, the UCI codes and world tour rankings are understood by few, and star riders are rarely seen in the same races.
Solutions? Few have been offered by Oleg, but the central thrust of his argument has been consistent - get the big riders in the big races. Last year he tried to use some of his significant financial clout to entice the top 4 riders to battle it out over all three grand tours. "I’ll get Tinkoff Bank to put up €1 Million. They can have €250,000 each as an extra incentive". That’s putting your money where your mouth is, and I respect Oleg for acting on his convictions.
Oleg's rhetoric is growing stronger; more recently In his latest blog on Cycling News, he has started to flesh out his concepts for the changes he believes are necessary for the sport's survival. He believes "all the big Grand Tour riders should ride the same program". He's becoming increasingly impatient with the UCI and Brian Cookson to bring about the change he desires, and suggests he may attempt change without them - "perhaps we should do it ourselves instead of waiting for them".
Perhaps this is a good place to start reforming the sport. As a fan, I can't say that I’d be unhappy to see these changes implemented. Scratch the surface though, and deeper issues arise from mandating such change. For instance, many smaller races rely on big name riders showing up to their events, giving them legitimacy and more recognition and publicity. What happens then to those races that aren't included in the mandated program? These are questions that need to be addressed before any major structural changes take place.
Conversely though, races could pay the UCI for including them in the program - this new source of revenue might be what is needed for the UCI to consider sharing income from TV rights with the teams. Something teams have been driving at for aeons.
Perhaps Oleg isn’t that crazy?
I’ll bring you my solution to cycling's perceived stagnation in the next OORR cycling blog - I may be a little more crazy than Oleg!
What would be your solution to bring more money into the sport - do you share Oleg's frustration, or prefer the status quo? Leave your ideas in the comments below.
NB: This is not an article about discount cycling jerseys or retro cycling jerseys, however you can find these under the shop tab at the top of the page. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that all of our apparel and accessories are made with recycled and sustainable materials.
This article also posted on The Roar