Friday, October 11, 2013

Two Weeks Notice

It's Friday night and most people I know have left work and probably moved on to somewhere fun like a bar or getting ready for a long night on the town.  I've got too much on my mind.  I mean, I guess I am at a bar at least. I'm at The Artful Dodger self-described as a coffeehouse and cocktail lounge.  I'm drinking both a coffee and a cocktail, so it seems appropriately defined.  I have spent a lot of time in here lately sending my race resume out to teams and talking to other cyclists about what I and they are doing next year.  I don't think I've talked to a single cyclist that is thrilled with what next year has in store for them.

The scene around me is getting a little overwhelming.  At least 50 JMU students have walked in and I think they are preparing to do some acapella performance.  Yep, I just heard a dude blow into a tuner. The barely-can-hear-yourself-think atmosphere just focused all its attention main-stage and my previously annoyed demeanor just opened up.  I love this, so much culture in this college/mountain/farm city in rural VA!  The artful dodger is known for its support of the arts.  There are paintings all over the wall displaying local artists visions and performances almost daily.

I've spent my afternoon and evening finalizing a proposal that I just submitted to Red Bull.  It just so happens that my cocktail, Blue Ridge Haze, is made with Red Bull ice cubes.  More importantly, I have a vision, the riders, and the motivation to help create the next professional team in the US if there's a sponsor out there that shares in my vision.

Below is the open letter I submitted to Red Bull.  This is what transparency looks like.  I hope Red Bull or someone reading, anyone, steps up.  If not, and I fall on my face for trying, I'll get back up and figure something out for next year.  I'm not scared and I'll be criticized for simplifying something very complicated, but I have to try because someone has to.

Do me one favor, despite the attention this gathers... Blast this.  Facebook share, Twitter Retweet, Email, Text, etc.  Let's at the VERY least get people talking.  One last thing, the deadline for Pro-Continental team submission is in about two weeks.  This is your two weeks notice.


I have an idea, and I need Red Bull to give it wings.  

Road cycling in the U.S. is in a really tough place.  It is expected that there will only be six registered Continental Pro cycling teams for the 2014 season.  Depending on whether a race has a 6 or 8 rider limit per team, that leaves approximately 36-48 pro riders in most US pro races that have open fields to amateur teams to fill the remaining 100-150 spots.  Promoters must do this to satisfy budget and eligibility requirements.  One would hope that this would create an opportunity for amateurs to expose themselves to professional teams, but it degrades the quality of racing and continues to weaken a system designed to develop riders to the next level in professional cycling.  

Furthermore, it’s created a system where pro teams can offer riders zero salary for a spot on their team due to the number of racers available in the pool of elite level cyclists and the shortage of professional teams available.  This is not sustainable and the system needs to be corrected to offer athletes an opportunity to continue to develop in the sport while being able to provide for themselves due to the dramatic commitment required to race at the professional level.

In the lowest places we have the opportunity to achieve the greatest success.  Each day I hear stories from cyclists that are arguably some of the best in the country, considering to throw in the towel because they are offered no salary to race at the professional level.  I want to start a project that changes the norm that is slowly damaging the sport of road cycling in the U.S. and eliminating a demographic of riders that need support to succeed.  A demographic of riders that deserve support.  I want these riders on my team.  I want to create a team that is considered the underdog that gets this sport back on track.  If you can’t join them, beat them.

I want to propose that Red Bull become the title sponsor of the next UCI registered Road Continental cycling team in the United States.  The team would consist of 4-8 riders through consideration of sponsor ambassadorship and athleticism and supported primarily by its title sponsor.  

  • To be “THE” badass team that generates national and international media attention for its sponsor(s) due to its existence*.
  • To provide team riders an opportunity to develop to the highest levels in cycling achievable to them, while providing them with the support they deserve and need to get there with the least amount of resistance.
  • To win and podium multiple national caliber races throughout the US and...
  • To explore international racing and elevate sponsor(s) exposure if requested and supported by the sponsor(s).
  • To work with USA Cycling and professional teams to redefine the system in place to develop cyclists and to support the sport of cycling and its athletes in a sustainable way.  
* The team will use every social media outlet available to them to generate positive attention to itself and its sponsor(s).  The creation of this team will be exploited as pro-cycling and not  anti-establishment.  The existence of this team alone will come off as “punk-rock” and will develop a “David vs. Goliath” story that will resonate throughout the world of cycling.  This will be big, no matter how small it is. I have riders in mind already with amazing stories, and I want to tell them.

Management and Organization:
The management of the team will be in its first year of existence an all-volunteer operation.  The roles of General Manager, Sports Director, and Operation/Finance Manager will be fulfilled upon successful registration of the team.

The General Manager will be the primary contact for sponsor(s) and final operational decisions.  As the proposal author, Timothy Rugg, I volunteer to assume this role for the first year of the team’s existence.

Each rider on the team and its sponsor(s) will create an Advisory Committee designed to review operational opportunities and provide recommendations for race schedule, budget allocation, social media outreach, and other awareness strategies.

Provided sponsor(s) can provide firm commitment, the General Manager will proceed to establish the team within the framework provided by USA cycling.

All application materials, bank documents, race calendars, roster selections, budgets, and correspondence will be transparent and publicly posted on Google Docs or however the Advisory Committee recommends.

The deadline for applications for UCI Road Continental teams to submit for the 2014 season is October 31st, 2013.  If the deadline is impossible for sponsor(s), it is possible to register an “Elite National Team” at any time.  The differences and requirements for both classifications can be discussed upon further consideration between the team and sponsor(s).

In 2014, the budget request is as follows.

  • $40,000 to $80,000 Salary for 4 to 8 cyclists. (~$10,000 per rider)
  • ~$10,000 Registration and Application fees for USA Cycling and UCI for pro license.
  • $650 Registration fee for Elite National Team. (amateur team with professional race opportunities)
  • $40,000 to $80,000 Race Registration, Transportation, and Race Lodging for 4 to 8 cyclists competing in 50 calendar race days throughout the 2014 season.  (To include National Racing Calendar, National Criterium Calendar, and regional events.)
  • $10,000 to $20,000 Other race and media equipment not met by sponsor(s).

Total - $100,000 to $190,000 for 4 to 8 riders registered as a UCI Continental team.  This budget is subject to change depending on further examination by the Advisory Committee, yet is smaller than any UCI Road Continental budget for USA Cycling.  There are elite national teams with upwards of $250,000 budgets and UCI Road Continental teams with budgets ranging from $400,000 to over a million dollars.  I can do more with half and Red Bull’s support.

This proposal is designed to both inspire and directly support cyclists at the national level through a competitive, prestigious, and exciting team program.