Over at CN, Garmin-Cervelo owner Jonathan Vaughters lays out a new business model for the sport, in the wake of the Geox threats to cancel their sponsorship over the newly-minted team's exclusion from the guaranteed Tour de France invite list. Basically, he respects the rights of the races to determine who they include, particularly given the need to protect the events from scandal, but pleads with them to consider a more predictable method of selection so sponsors don't get blindsided like Geox has. A possible solution?
Maybe instead of 15 teams fighting on a year-to-year basis, 15 teams are given a 10-year contract with all the top events, based on their history, performances, and ethical foundation and then the remaining 5-7 teams are invited as new comers and potential league members after the 10 years is up.
Isn't this what the Pro Tour tried to do? The key differences are the number of teams -- argued endlessly back in the day; the number of years (PT used 4-yr increments); and the role of the UCI. The same criticisms would exist in such a system, where teams like Lampre being forced to ride the Vuelta instead of Spanish teams was a pointless exercise, so hopefully the Vaughters model could be made flexible on this score. And ten years is an eternity, both on the funding commitments and the ethical story. It's hard to picture more than a handful of teams going a decade without a scandal.
But the most intriguing part is the contract between teams and races. To a casual fan this might not mean much, but to veteran gawkers at the sport's politics, this is a pretty clear message. Sorry Pat, we'll take it from here.
That's my quickie reaction. What say ye?