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LA VUELTA TAMBIÉN October 3, 2008

Posted by wetalkhablamos in cycling fans, vuelta a espana.

Photograph © Team Astana

I noticed this photo of folks from the Kazakh embassy waving their flags at the Vuelta finish-line. I saw these flags too, after the race, from the other side of the Plaza de Cibeles. It was the only obvious Astana support there. What a shame.

There are also finish-line photos of fans waving blue, blow-up batons. This is a fix for the cameras. We were 200m away, not that far, and there was nothing for aficionados to take away from the race. No programme, no merchandise, no memorabilia, no giveaways. Just a few moments of cycle racing.

And maybe that should be enough, but I don’t think it is. Not at an elite, professional sporting event in 2008.

Of course, I have my memories and photos, and I saw Chechu race. I even spoke to him briefly. But I would also have bought a keepsake, an Astana jersey or a Contador flag or a Vuelta bidon.

In Plaza de Cibeles, no-one could see the video screen, except for the VIPs. It was far too small, dwarfed by the grandness of the square, and obscured by the fountain of Cibeles.

We walked around the Plaza for a better position, and found a small gap through which we could see the podium. Then an official van drove in and blocked the view just before the peloton arrived. As a spectator event, it was just awful.

I now understand why some fans grab at the cyclists as they pass on the way to the bus. Just 10 seconds with Chechu Rubiera (or indeed any Spanish cyclist at the Vuelta) and a snatched photo. At least they get something.

It seems there’s an opportunity missed here. For marketing and revenue. And for engaging with fans, whose loyalty has been sorely tested in the recent years.

Your experience may be different. Let me know.




1. Debbie - October 3, 2008

I noticed a lack of Astana merchandise at the Tour of GA this year too. At the 2007 Tour of MO Jared was very busy selling Discovery items.

My thoughts are that the Astana team was put together so quickly last year that some things didn’t get done. . Lets hope that for 2009 some of the smaller details can be taken care of. For example, look at the new website – it is much better than the original.

With Lance on the team in 2009 marketing opportunities should increase and I would be very surprised if this management didn’t take advantage of it.

2. Nicky - October 3, 2008

Thanks Debbie. It may come as a surprise but I’m not criticising Astana particularly. Despite our occasional dissent, we absolutely recognise their achievements this year. It’s not been easy.

Having said that … I would have loved a Contador t-shirt for Rebecca. Loads of people had them, there were four or five different versions. None were linked in colour or graphics to Astana sadly. Hopefully next year.

At the Tour of Britain, there was merchandise on sale. I bought a ToB bidon and a programme. Less than £10 but it was enough. Plus there were sponsors’ giveaways. It all creates brand loyalty, advertising and/or cash. Cycling generally is missing a trick.

I’m interested in the Armstrong angle, Debbie. How do you think they will market it – Astana or cycling or LiveStrong? What do you want to see?


3. cg - October 3, 2008

To expand on the TdG thing… During the team’s last year as Posties, there was a MAJOR USPS team booth – and it was always swamped with people buying posters, jersey’s, pins, pic’s, hats, you name it. The next year, they were Disco and merchandise was never seen again (except as you mention, Jared’s trunk of the car sales!) I always thought that was a hugh missed opportunity – particularly while Lance was still riding and everyone was frothy for stuff. The only team I’ve seen to really “get it” since then is Rock Racing. At TdG last year, they had a major presence… And most impressively, after the final stage in downtown Atlanta, the team (instead of scurrying back to their bus) went to the booth and signed big (free) individual riders posters for anyone willing to stand in line. Love him or hate him, Michael Ball understands a Brand!

4. Nicky - October 3, 2008

I’m guess it comes down to resources; money as well as people.
Team Astana merchandise will be very marketable in 2009 because of this year’s success. They have to sell in Europe too though, nearly half their potential customers can’t buy now.

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