“We’re still doing the same things” – Eusebio Unzuè Calls for A Structural Change in Cycling Tournaments, With One Major Project

Published 02/06/2024, 9:27 AM EST

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68-year-old Eusebio Unzuè spoke to the media on the eve of the Tour Columbia and highlighted the current face of cycling. According to the veteran manager, the sport structure has remained the same since the 1980s and changes need to be made. He argued the regulations of the sport have failed to evolve with time, and the misconception of maintaining its prestige is doing more harm.

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The Movistar manager also highlighted the current nature of Grand Tours and how all the bargaining chips lie in the hands of the organizers. For someone who cares deeply about the sport, its longevity, and the athletes, the current status quo will not work anymore. Here’s what he had to say and how the new project, One Cycling, could reshape the future.

Movistar manager touches upon the state of cycling

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As the Eusebio sat down on the eve of Tour Columbia, the media looked back at his magnificent run with Movistar that fetched them multiple titles. He now returns to the team for a second spell with them, after sitting on the sidelines for 2 years. He emphasized on the need to look ahead rather than reveling in past glories. The recent developments in the world of cycling have prompted purists like him to voice their concerns.

With Red Bull entering the sport and bringing with it massive funding, the market and making of teams could shift massively. Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund evoked interest in investing €250 million in One Cycling Project, an ambitious plan that will change the face of cycling.

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One Cycling project, headed by Visma-Lease manager Richard Plugge and a few other teams, is the pursuit to take back control over the revenue from organizers. Their aim is to redirect the revenues in areas that can propel the sport forward, keeping in mind the demands of today’s world. As of now, the power imbalance is massive, with most of the stakes under the control of race organizers.

While the nature of the format and structure of the project is still under wraps, Visma-Lease has claimed it to be “a more sustainable business model”. Eusebio spoke to the media and provided his support to the project, calling it an evolution that must not be stopped.

He said, “I think almost all sports develop, whereas we’re still doing the same things we’ve always been doing. Since I started in the 1980s, the rules of cycling have changed very little, and I think you need to adapt to the current time. You have to make the regulations and rules more… well, I’m not sure if it’s right to say ‘more human,’ but certainly they should be less brutal.”

What is One Cycling Project?

As we know, the idea was born after several stakeholders of the sport argued about the gross commercialization of cycling. Recent developments have prompted a sign of worry for the pundits who argue riders are becoming lesser and lesser important as the days go by. The idea is to create a sustainable ecosystem that caters to the needs of all the stakeholders involved.

Their first plan is to create more revenue streams. This could be packaging broadcast rights of smaller races together, shared revenue with organisers, marketing athlete image rights, creating an e-commerce platform to sell team merchandise, and a digital platform for cycling content.

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For Eusebio, however, riders’ health and well-being is the area he is most passionate about. He called for allowing substitutions in Grand Tours in case of an injury. This comes after Enric Mas’ crash on the opening day of the tour last year. “If a rider crashes, can he not climb into a car or ambulance to get examined and then start again the next day if he hasn’t broken anything? Why not?” Unzué said.

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For a sport that boasts of such a rich tapestry of culture and history, the current state of it is far from royal. With revenue being at the forefront and scheduling of races focused on maximising profits, rider health and quality of races threaten to reduce. “I think we’ve all grown used to the idea of an epic sport and the belief that all these things form part of the epic nature of the sport. But remember, football didn’t allow substitutions in the past either,” said an animated Eusebio.

Watch this story – Unwrapping Four Essential Facts About Indoor Cycling

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Written by:

Allen James

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Hey folks! I am Allen James, and I am proudly holding court as the maestro of Viral Sports! Armed with a degree in Mass Communication, and a specialization in Journalism, my journey has been nothing short of a love story with sports. From epic showdowns that set the world on fire to heart-wrenching farewells that left us all misty-eyed, my pen has danced through the most electrifying moments. But what gets my heart racing at VSM? It?s the sheer diversity of options, a playground where no single area is off-limits! With dreams of conquering the world of sports broadcasting, I?m on a quest to explore every nook and cranny.
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Garima Yadav

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