Friday, 17 December 2010

Loyalty and openness

The last couple of months or so have been on fire when it comes to transfer window and who's doing what where. Things settled just a week a ago when Cancellara confirmed his move from Saxo to Leopard, something that hardly came to a surprise to anyone. In a way, cycling is starting to look like football transfer. All chaos, riders don't to be there but there, and teams yells high and throws money around like they are monopoly money. This leads to a lot of rumours. Media, bloggers and the "know-hows" competes in deriving the newest information leading to further speculations. It's all great fun and a part of off-season although I perfectly understand Brian Nygaard's view which he expressed in a comment on The Inner Ring blog where he is a bit fed-up over speculations media and others have made on the team's behalf.

A new kind of loyalty

Riders' and teams' loyalty have been debated earlier, I will not continue down that road. Instead Nygaard seems to have something others may lack; loyalty towards the system. Words like "the riders on our tema are NOT under contract with us until 1/1-2011" and "1/1-2011 is when we roll out. All the work we've done so far, is to get everything ready for that" indicate he's doing something different than the other teams. Is it possible that the dane and his team is true to the contracts and legal obligations and this is the only reason why Leopard has been off the radar? Well, it can be said that most of the other teams are established and Leopard is brand new, that's why they have to take it easy. It is possible, but I remember another transfer a year ago where a brand new team got their profiled rider and that did not happened without some commotion. After all, Leopard has an extremely strong line, with the Schlecks, Cancellara and ever hard working Voigt on the team, one could suspect the sponsors wanted some fuss around their brand.

The code 

Nygaard has a PR background, there is little doubt that he knows what he's doing when it comes to information strategy. The secrecy surrounding Team Leopard could be for these two reasons; both loyalty to the system and as a part of a PR strategy. As Nygaard knows, the expectations and pressure will arise along with secrecy, the higher the expectations the higher fall if they are not met.

The fact that Leopard is doing something else than the rest of the peloton could work both ways. After thinking this over I like it. Teams should be doing things differently and they should act accordingly to established regulations. This enhances predictability as well as transparency, both for riders, teams, sponsors and fans.  One thing for sure, predictability is something this sport hasn't seen for some time. Who knows, maybe Leopard will be even more open than Garmin-Cervelo on the 1st of January?

Picture taken by Christopher Keiser

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