Team owner Zdenek Bakala and OPQS Chairman Bessel Kok met with a dozen or so journalists in Brussels. The aim? To talk about Mr. Bakala’s feelings during these difficult times in the cycling world and discuss his ideas for reorganizing professional cycling.
“Cycling,” explained Mr. Bakala, “has enormous potential, it’s a fantastic sport which I’m really passionate about. This is why I’ve decided to invest in a new project aimed at improving this world.”
Mr. Bakala’s project consists of a three-pronged approach. The first is the struggle against doping with the purpose of having a strict policy with streamlined procedures that will lead to quicker judgements. The second involves financial stability in the cycling system, which necessarily relies on the financial stability of the teams. The third addresses the need for clear, precise rules that we can count on and work with.
“Our system needs these changes in order to gain credibility and growth, in addition to a series of further steps like technological development in cycling and a change in the system that assigns points and team licenses,” said Mr. Bakala. “The public needs to be able to identify with a cycling culture that has clear rules and regulations, with a system of races and classifications that is easy to understand. The teams need stability, with a licensing system that allows them to work towards medium and long-term goals and build branded teams that fans can easily recognize.”
This is why Mr. Bakala is considering a new format that would create a so-called "Champions League" in professional cycling. "It would be a new format, easy for the public, media, sponsors and broadcasters to understand” continued Mr Bakala. “In reality it wouldn’t be a radical change that would happen in a short period of time, rather it would be a gradual process of change through dialogue with other components of our sport which in a few years could bring cycling to the next level. Having the top teams, with the top riders, in the best races. That’s the goal.”
This is an ambitious project, but it is also absolutely necessary. “Passion for this sport has prompted me first to invest in the team and now to develop this project,” concluded Mr. Bakala. “I love challenges and this is one that I hope will bring results to everyone in the cycling world.”