Velon hails Infront deal as a ‘game-changer’ for cycling

The Velon umbrella body of professional cycling teams has agreed a wide-ranging strategic partnership with the Infront Sports & Media agency with the aim of enhancing the financial standing of its members and boosting the sport’s engagement with its fans.

Under the 10-year deal, Infront becomes Velon’s strategic partner across all its new and existing business opportunities. The agency has also been tasked with growing commercial revenues with Velon and working with key partners including event organisers, their partners and the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Velon said that the deal would allow it to take a significant step towards achieving its core goals. These include bringing fans closer to the riders, races and teams through technical and media solutions, as well as aggregating the rights of 11 of the biggest teams to improve the financial stability of the sport.

Initially the agreement will provide investment into a technology solution through Infront's subsidiaries, Host Broadcast Services (HBS) and Omnigon. Velon said that this would result in bikes being able to carry the necessary technology to live stream performance data and video to feed into race coverage by the media.

Data capture will include various streams, however what will be publically visible is subject to the outcomes of Velon’s discussions with all of cycling’s stakeholders. Data will be aggregated, interpreted and made available to race organisers for their broadcasters to use in the race coverage.

On the subject of live streaming data from bikes, Graham Bartlett, chief executive of Velon, said: “Our partnership enables us to make a major step forward to enable data to be shared with fans and it is going to be fantastic. Just imagine how great it will be for fans to see the performance of the riders as they follow races on their screens or see them at the race. This is something that has been available in other sports and now we're bringing it to cycling so fans can better engage with the riders and get a much better experience.”

In order to realise the technology and data solution, Velon has stressed that it will be working closely with the UCI, which has been strongly advocating the increasing use of technology, to ensure that the initiative fits within its regulatory framework.

Stephan Herth, executive director of Infront Sports & Media, said: “Cycling is a key sport in Infront’s long-term strategy and also an important pillar of the wider Wanda Sports Holding business. We are therefore proud to partner with Velon in revolutionising the cycling experience of the fans, as well as the way that the sport is positioned and marketed in the digital sphere.

“Involving also our subsidiaries HBS and Omnigon, we will provide an extensive array of in-house marketing, production and digital experience to Velon, as we fully share the teams’ vision: to engage and grow the global cycling community, enhance the perception of the sport, and ensure long-term economic stability.”

Velon is a business venture formed by pro-cycling teams in 2014. It is wholly owned and controlled equally by the 11 shareholding teams. Its founding members are: BMC Racing Team, Etixx – Quick-Step, Lampre-Merida, Lotto-Soudal, Orica GreenEDGE, Cannondale Pro Cycling Team, Team Giant-Alpecin, Team LottoNL – Jumbo Pro Cycling Team, Team Sky, Tinkoff and Trek-Segafredo.