Monday, May 1, 2017

Italian Cycling Sinking?

Velonews' Andrew Hood asks "Is Italian cycling sinking?" and uses a photo of a Made-in-China bike floating in a canal to illustrate his point?

There's no argument that top-tier pro teams sponsored by Italian firms are almost extinct, with Trek-Segafredo being the only one left these days and we think they're registered in the USA, though most of the management is Italian.

Hood rightly points out the continuing economic crisis in Italy as being mostly responsible for this, but leaves out the effect of the continuing doping scandals along with the insane costs of operating a top-tier team under the current UCI rules.

If we rule out autocratic governments, gambling interests and the bicycle industry, who is left as a major sponsor of pro cycling? Internationally marketed consumer goods? Quickstep flooring, Segafredo espresso and Bora cooking hoods (though the Big-S puts in a huge portion of this team's budget) are about all that is left. One of those three IS Italian as Segafredo espresso is known world-wide.

The Italian bicycle industry is continually outbid for major sponsorships in most cases by companies who source most of their products from Asia, whether it's the bicycles, the components or even the clothing and shoes.

On the other hand, the HUMAN component, as Hood points out, is still dominated by Italians with more top pros than any other country despite Italy's small population. Add in the directors, mechanics, soigneurs and the rest of the staff and Italian cycling seems rather healthy in this category.

Next, factor in the new generation of Italian pro riders - the Colbrelli's, Moscon's, Modolo's who have already made it to the top-tier plus the riders still in the Under-23 category and Italian cycling doesn't look so bad, unless your sole consideration is the amount of euros generated in Italy being spent to sponsor top-tier pro teams.

Meanwhile, Italian cycling companies like Castelli (who supply the SKY team) Pinarello (also with SKY) Santini (supplier of world championship clothing as well as the Giro leaders jerseys) Campagnolo (suppliers to Movistar, Lotto Soudal and UAE Emirates) Scicon (suppliers to Bora, Quickstep, Orica and others) continue to be integral parts of the sport.

Of course NONE of this changes the fact that Italy is still the best place to be a cyclist or cycling enthusiast. Clients from all over the world tell us every year how welcome they feel on the roads compared to where they live. When combined with the world's best food and wine, the Italian gene for hospitality and some of the world's most beautiful scenery, "La Bella Italia" is simply unmatched! Join us and see for yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment