During the last few years, the emergence of Velon has sparked some debate, as to whether the concept is ‘revolutionary’, or just frankly unnecessary. Let us take a look at how Velon has changed the pro scene since its inception.
Intro to Velon
Velon was formally announced in late 2014, as a joint venture company, which aimed to ensure “a sustainable future for the teams”, and to revolutionise the way in which fans interact with the sport. The group wishes to make the sport more marketable, in order to increase sponsorship in cycling; something that has been viewed as a major issue in recent times, with the likes of companies such as Tinkoff and IAM deciding to leave the sport. At a time where ASO has significant power in cycling, Velon may be fundamental in protecting the future of pro teams.
The WorldTour teams that are part of the Velon group include: BMC Racing Team, Cannondale Drapac Pro Cycling Team, Lotto Soudal, Orica-Scott, Quick-Step Floors, Team LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sunweb, Team Sky, Trek Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates.
Velon Live Data
One of the main features of the Velon concept is the real-time rider performance data, that is provided in Velon partner races, like the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de Suisse, to name a few. Indeed, the general idea is centred upon the notion that fans will have a greater understanding of how hard riders are working at a given point.
— Velon CC (@VelonCC) June 16, 2017
However, while this live data does provide fans with some insight into the suffering the pros are enduring, to what extent is its usefulness? The primary issue with Velon’s live data is that greater context is required to interpret the data fully. For instance, heart rate is heavily influenced by age, I remember during this year’s Giro d’Italia looking at Andre Greipel’s HR, in comparison to Fernando’s Gaviria’s, and it being around 20bpm lower, at the same point within the stage. Power, as we all know is all to do with weight, without data on a rider’s weight, especially on climbs, the live data becomes of limited use, as comparing riders is made difficult.
Whether you thought the Hammer Series was a good or bad thing for cycling, I don’t believe many people could claim that they weren’t, at the very least, intrigued by the concept. Although the inaugural event held in Limburg, Netherlands earlier this month by no means revolutionised cycling, and certainly did not decide ‘the best team in the world’, in my humble opinion it was an engaging and unique sequence of races.
–Hammer Climb: Without a doubt the most enthralling race of the event for me. Witnessing a race splitting to pieces within the first two kilometres, and never coming back together, is something you can only usually find in Junior races.
–Hammer Sprint: The omnium style sprint event, where points were scored on the 8 crossings of the finishing line every lap, was chaotic to say the least. Including this style of event in future Hammer Series would definitely establish a pattern of consistently, unpredictable racing.
–Hammer Chase: Paradox is the word that springs to mind when summarising my thoughts on this crazy Team Time Trial chase format. On the one hand, I found Sunweb’s pursuit of Team Sky at the head of the race to be an encapsulating sight. On the other hand, the coming together of Orica-Scott, LottoNL-Jumbo, Cannondale-Drapac, Movistar, Lotto Soudal and Nippo-Vini Fantini on the course to form a huge ‘peloton Team Time Trial’, was a moment I was in awe of, but one that was heavily criticised. The consequence of so many teams occupying the same road space, making it impossible to enforce the ‘no drafting’ rule, was that the credibility of the Hammer Series was diminished, since the results after Sky/Sunweb clearly were not fair.
While the Hammer Series will never achieve greater status than our beloved Grand Tours and Monuments, as cycling is a sport steeped in history and tradition, I think many of us can agree that it can co-exist well alongside the regular race calendar.
In summary, while I do believe that Velon has implemented some positive changes in cycling, they certainly have not ‘revolutionised’ the sport. Velon’s presence should lead to its teams having greater protection from the strength of ASO, however, do bear in mind that Velon, like ASO, is also motivated by profit. And why is it that not every team in the WorldTour has joined, if the benefits are so great? Unfortunately, this is not a question I have direct answers for. Moreover, I could bombard you with quotes from pros about Velon, yet for those of us who aren’t paid to love Velon, they are of little importance.
So Velon has indeed changed the pro scene, but just not to the extent they would have you believe.
About the Author: I’m Will Turley (known as The Cycling Delegate on Twitter), a 17-year-old A-Level student with a slightly obsessive interest in professional cycling. I use the medium of twitter to provide race previews, race updates and analysis/thoughts for the majority of both women’s and men’s races. Follow me to take you through every race!
Featured image is from: http://www.shiftactivemedia.com/clients/velon/