• The Backstage Pass captured virtually all of GreenEDGE Cycling's biggest moments, including Mathew Hayman's 2016 Paris-Roubaix victory. (Getty Images)
With teams trying to differentiate themselves in the eyes of sponsors, Orica-Scott's Backstage Pass helped do exactly that, also creating a legion of loyal followers. So what will life be like without it, asks Anthony Tan?
By
Source:
Cycling Central
4 DAYS AGO 

On September 15 this year, and after six years and 535 episodes, Orica-Scott's longtime video producer, Dan Jones, posted his final Backstage Pass to YouTube.

It wasn't the best episode I saw. It wasn't the worst, either.

It basically involved a number of members of the team thanking Jones for his contribution in documenting the evolution of Australia's first WorldTour squad.

It became part of the fabric of the team, as did its erstwhile producer, who deftly built trust with his subjects, opening themselves up in ways they wouldn't with a journalist.

The Backstage Pass was never about producing the most polished videos, or the most cinematic. Nor was not about investigative journalism, or any sort of journalism, really, for Jones' employer was Gerry Ryan, owner and co-creator of the GreenEDGE cycling team and its various monikers, which made it more PR than anything.

The aim was to engage the fans with exclusive behind-the-scenes content, and document the lives of GreenEDGE athletes and staff beyond what is normally published via traditional media. 

Having garnered over 25 million views since its inception on 12 August 2011, it was a unqualified success.

The mechanic-cam footage captured on the crash-marred third stage of the 2015 Tour de France was indicative of the cycling public's appetite for carnage. With around two million views, it eclipsed the second most popular vid, the hilarious 'Call Me Maybe' spoof, by a factor of 2-1. Mathew Hayman's Paris-Roubaix-winning Backstage Pass from 2016 came third with 550K views, followed by another crash vid, this time the seventh stage of the 2016 Tour, when Adam Yates got into a kerfuffle with the kilometre kite.

There was also the #SKYvOGE battle as riders from both teams competed in inane games like rock-paper-scissors; 'My Piece of the World', cute piece-to-cameras done by riders from their European bases; and 'Bike Riders Can't Cook', which, as the name implied, proved why so few professional cyclists go on to become professional chefs.

From the many GreenEDGE fans I spoke to over the last six years, they couldn't get enough of Backstage Pass. Other teams did behind-the-scenes videos, but no-one did it quite like them, and probably never will.

Which is just as well, since from early in the peace, Jones knew he would have enough to make a feature length film out of it. All For One hit the cinemas this August, and judging from the public screening I went to at the Village Cinemas in Sydney's George St, it gave the fans exactly what they wanted, albeit lacking the depth of a more serious sports documentary. (Read the review: All for One: One for Greenedge Fans) If you weren't into cycling, you probably wouldn't watch it, but then again that was the point: it was tailor-made for the GreenEDGE aficionado.

As teams like Orica-Scott changed their naming rights sponsor/s, and riders came and went, the Backstage Pass remained the Backstage Pass. It became part of the fabric of the team, as did its erstwhile producer, who deftly built trust with his subjects, opening themselves up in ways they wouldn't with a journalist.

Which begs the question: what will the team be without the Backstage Pass?

Will GreenEDGE fans remain loyal? If so, for how long? What will the team do to keep them on board? Will the caravan, horse-racing and wine-producing tycoon Ryan hire someone else to continue in Jones' footsteps - how will they be received? How long does Ryan plan to own the team?

In a September 12 press release, it was announced that Ryan had agreed to back the women's and youth programs till at least 2018, after Cycling Australia said their contribution to the aforementioned programs would cease at the end of the current season. "The decision of others is out of our hands but we believe they deserve our support, and a lot more," Ryan said, in a year Orica, the headline sponsor for both the men's and women's team's, departs after five years.

"It's a thrill to see these riders thrive as athletes and as people in our environment and not only that, we see their contribution to our value offering to potential sponsors as important."

Speaking of which, in the same statement, GreenEDGE Cycling general manager Shayne Bannan also mentioned "We are still on the hunt for a replacement naming rights sponsor across all three teams".

Cannondale-Drapac isn't the only WorldTour outfit scrapping for sponsors offering seven-figure endowments.

Till then, we look to one man who's been more constant than the Backstage Pass ever was. "We have a lot of be thankful for with Gerry," Bannan said.

Ain't that the truth.