Everything Changes Eventually
Gate revenue could be just what professional cycling needs.
two laps on the Roubaix velodrome.
The reason for the finishing loops is obvious - to give the spectators in that area another look at the racers. But if that loop is just a few kilometers in distance, the amount of ancillary events such as the publicity caravan, as well as food vendors, restaurants, and various other merchants are limited. However, if there can be a larger loop that means more people can be catered to, or in the case of advertisers, more eyeballs on their product. Like Vandenhaute said, the fans can attend the festivities that are now located in not just one location, but throughout the course.
But you're thinking to yourself, "Neil, this will kill the history of this race!" To that I say get over it. This year's race will be the 96th edition and change is unavoidable. Look through the history of cycling and you'll see races have changed due to a variety of reasons - from courses, times on the calendar to which events qualify for the World Championships. Change happens. You know what didn't change - dinosaurs. Do you see any dinosaurs now? Yeah, I didn't think so.
This change, while an affront to the Tour of Flanders purists, could reap some benefits. In addition to the added "festivals" that will be a part of the race, there's an opportunity to charge an entrance fee for prime viewing locations, or perhaps erect bleachers with reserved seating for a cost.
At the press conference Vandenhaute was asked this very question and Velonation reports that he didn't directly answer. "I do not rule out it always staying a free event though, but it will never be an exclusive event to VIP's only."
I might get a lot of abuse heaped on me for this next statement, but I think there should be a charge at the gate for spectators. The race is entertainment and the athletes are performing professionally. This is not a new idea. At the recent cyclocross World Championships, spectators were charged and why not? The Belgian national team put on a display of 'cross power and they did what they were supposed to do - race hard.
How about a portion of the gate allocated to the participating teams as they are part of the entertainment equation? Think of it as profit sharing. Advertising could be strategically placed, for a price, along the barriers to ensure maximum viability as the riders come by. Yes, I know this is very commercial and what I'm suggesting is blasphemous, but this gives the race promoters some clout when it comes to their event. They can ensure that a sponsor get announced a specific amount of times or, for example, their banner is viewed from a fixed camera every lap as the peloton rounds the corner.
To ensure worldwide exposure, which would in turn attract worldwide sponsors rather than just regional money, promoters could stream their races via the internet hosted on their own website, which would capture even more viewers. Other than the Tour de France and