Eleven of the top World Tour teams announced on Tuesday a joint venture they say is designed to move the sport on to a more secure and sustainable future.
7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:34 PM

The re-branded joint venture, formerly called Project Avignon and now called Velon, is made up of 11 World Tour teams, Sky, Belkin, BMC, Garmin-Sharp, Lotto Belisol, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Giant-Shimano, Lampre-Merida, Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing and Australia's Orica-GreenEDGE.

The group say they want a new calendar, plan to introduce new technology, like on-bike cameras already trialled at several events, and create a "better economic future for the sport".
"The existing, sponsor only, business model is fragile for all teams," Velon CEO Graham Bartlett said in a statement.

"We need to change this to a more rounded one with fans at the heart of it, investing in new technological initiatives to generate greater excitement from the races and bring the sport closer to its fans."

ORICA-GreenEDGE team owner Gerry Ryan said the group was a positive step for the future of cycling.

"This initiative is a real milestone in the development of professional cycling," said Ryan. "The teams are coming together to make the sport more attractive as a business by creating new ways for the fans to enjoy all the excitement it has to offer. It is key that the teams take this step together to help the long term strategy of cycling for everyone involved.

2014 Australian champion Simon Gerrans echoed Ryan's support of the initiative.

"It's great news for cycling that teams are coming together like this," said Gerrans. "This is a major step that will help in shaping the future of the sport in a way that will benefit the teams, the riders and definitely also the fans.

"As a team we have always tried to set the bar high when it comes to creating excitement around the races and now we can do that in a group that will help us all to boost the sport even more. The on-bike footage was the perfect way to kick-start this project and we are all looking forward to seeing more initiatives like that."

Among the teams who are not part of the venture are Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali's Astana, as well as the three elite French teams (Europcar, AG2R-La Mondiale and FDJ).

"FDJ do not reject the project but the outlines are still too fuzzy. We are observing, many things will change from 2016. We wait," FDJ manager Marc Madiot, whose team was part of the initial talks, told Reuters.

Russian outfit Katusha and Spain's Movistar have also opted against joining Velon.
Velon said they were looking forward to working closely with the stakeholders of the sport, including the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the race organizers, who cash in the television revenues.

In a statement sent to Reuters, the UCI said that it "has been in regular contact with Velon and looks forward to continuing that constructive dialogue throughout the current reform process and beyond."

Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the superpower of cycling and owner of the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana and other races including Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Nice, said it would not comment.

Reading between the lines, Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau told sports daily L'Equipe: "There is always the will to create a NBA (basketball) style professional league and I'm against it.

This is not the first time a project like this has been attempted. At the end of 2012, eight teams founded the World Series Cycling (WSC), a breakaway league project that failed to materialize.