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Lots of people have been asking me what I'm going to be doing next year, the truth of the matter is that I really don't know yet. The other truth of the matter is that I actually do have an offer to join Meridiana for 2011... but at the moment I am unable to take it. This is due to circumstances relating to how I got the gig there in the first place and my old team among other things. Running a cycling team costs money and that money is supplied by sponsors, the Croatian riders are backed by the Croatian sponsor and a few (but not all) of the Italian riders are backed by the team's own Italian sponsors. Sponsors donít get a direct return on their investment, all they get is exposure. Then there are the remaining riders on the team who aren't backed by the sponsors at all, they are backed by their own personal sponsors which follow them around from team to team. These are good riders, in fact a couple of the best riders on the team have their own personal backing, it isnít about ability so much as itís about who sponsors what.

So the ultimatum given to me was this: If I am to join the team then I have to find some form of backing, the trouble being that (like many cyclists) I'm not really much of a businessman, salesman or marketing guru so Iím rather stumped as to what to do next. Nevertheless I think I've proved to myself, the team management and hopefully some of the readers of this blog that I'm capable of racing a calendar like that of Meridiana's, or any other team doing the Italian domestic pro calendar for that matter. This is a format for team sponsorship that has existed for quite a while in pro cycling. It's fair to say that it's an open secret and definitely an ugly truth about pro cycling. I strongly suspect it's something that occurs in many teams in Europe all the way up to Protour level, but not in all teams. It just happens in the ones that donít have as much cash as you might think they do. For some teams itís merely a case of the rider supplying cash in order to get past the minimum salary rules (which are pointless anyway as they're impossible to enforce when both parties are willing to break them).

I know itís not fair but there is no convincing this team otherwise, the idea of money and ability are utterly divorced from each other in this case, it's part of the business model. It is of course utterly bizarre and wrong that a team asks a developing rider to invest in the team rather than the other way round but that is the reality of the situation. I have also been in touch with other Italian teams and itís exactly the same story, Iím not singling any team out here.

So in addition to looking for another team for next year (which may yet still prove fruitful) I have also been looking for sponsorship - and this dear reader is where you may be able to help me. The other week I got an email from a reader who works for a big corporation, together we made a sponsorship proposal and sent it off to his marketing department. It didnít lead to anything but it got me thinking, at the very least I managed to get my proposal read and discussed, something that simply wouldnít happen if Iíd emailed them myself. I suspect I have many readers in similar positions who might be willing to give this a shot for me. If you think you might fit the bill and that I may have a shot then please send me an email. With the economy as it is marketing budgets arenít really flush with cash right now but it must be worth a try at least.

I also have another strategy which has already proved fruitful. We all know people who have everything you could think of bikewise, you know the sort, a decent TT bike, road bike, winter bike, track bike, racks of wheels, a disk, Assos shorts for every day of the week etc. etc. All bought new from their local bike shop at full whack without batting an eyelid. These are dedicated cycle fans that regularly go on cycle tours, holidays and sportives around the world and so on. You may actually be one of these people for all I know. If you know someone like this who might be willing to invest in me then please get in touch. It may be a long shot but every proposal of sponsorship is a long shot, I just need enough of them to give me good odds.

The return on such an investment wouldnít be monetary, but if anyone manages to help out then I can probably organise a cheap training camp down in Polla with me, youíll get picked up in style by the team car and everything! I also think I could organise some sort of VIP experience at a race or two, too. I would be at your disposal for anything I may be useful for such as publicity, coaching, giving a talk etc.

I have never qualified or even be eligible for Rayner funding, Sport England funding, Lottery funding or John Ibbotson funding, Iíve never been on talent teams or development squads or anything like that. All of the years I have raced abroad I have funded myself, this time the amount is too much for me to do alone but I really feel I deserve this chance. It is a great opportunity and I really donít want to let it go if I can help it, particularly for fiscal reasons. If you think you can help then drop me an email and I can give more detail.

News:

A belated congratulations to my 2010 team mate Gunnar Gronlund on winning the British national hill climb championships the other week. He really appears to have found a niche for himself: http://www.velouk.net/2011/10/30/201...ionships-live/.

And another belated congratulations to Wojciech, who has joined Orbea for 2012, Orbea are reducing in number and have reshuffled themselves a bit for next year, they are very much an outward looking Eastern region team again, which is good I think: http://www.velouk.net/2011/10/31/tea...wenty3c-orbea/.

Beyond the peloton is ending! Hooray! Although they will remain in cycling... Boo! I know some people love it but I have always detested it. To me they just reflected the entire Cervelo and Garmin teams as full of miserable depressives that took cycling far, far too seriously, which I believe isn't the case. I know racing is serious and they have to be professional and blah blah blah but in the end it's about enjoyment and this element was never reflected well in these videos, even when they succeeded. To this film maker cycling was just a romantic battle of wills, it was about pain, hardship, suffering and stupid lens filters that make everything look grey and moody but nothing more. I just couldn't get past the apparent dullness, arrogance and seriousness of the riders.

Clenbuterol - Mexican beef anyone? http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/new...s-17-world-cup I'm sure this is another string to Contador's bow. I shall be avoiding beef in China as it's apparently fed to their cattle quite often over there.

A total chopper tests positive for EPO: http://www.royalgazette.com/article/...RT13/711099983. Knowing human nature I very much doubt he is the only one out there.

What do you do when the out of competition tester comes over unannounced? That's right, panic room! http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment...in-panic-room/!!

Updated 17-11-2011 at 07:49 PM by David Mclean

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2011 - Meridiana Kamen

Comments

  1. Nathan's Avatar
    Hi Dave - congrats on gaining a place, it's great to see that with (a lot) of graft you've finally made it to the kind of level you wanted to be at.

    I think you're right to acknowledge that big firms are less likely to get behind you - if you look at the projects they sponsor, they want brand recognition in return for that cash (Sarah Outen and Accenture being a case in point http://www.sarahouten.com/). Having said that, I really do think that you stand a good chance if you exercise your (and everyone else's contacts) to gather enthusiasm for your cause. There are plenty of frustrated cyclists out there who - if they had their time again - might just be standing in your position. If I were you, I'd aim for smaller companies, perhaps ones local to your home town. Sports manufacturers, consultants, organisations that work with young people etc. I don't know the specific sums involved, but a sugar daddy could easily stump up the cash if you do your best 'persuasive' shtick.

    One other thought is the possibility of micro/social credit websites. That way you will widen you pool of potential sponsors, and lessen the burden on each of them. Kickstarter is one of those in the States where people pledge cash based on a web-proposal. The sums don't have to be huge, but I don't know whether similar sites operate in the UK.

    Anyway, best of luck, and if you are after cash from donors, please put some details on this site and veloriders