No urge to merge

September 5, 2011

So with Leo-Shack rumors floating around for so long now, you may start to wonder “what’s taking so long”. Of course, if nothing is actually happening and it’s all BS, it’s no wonder it’s taking so long! That was covered earlier today.

But even if there are talks, and even if rumors are getting stronger, and even if a merger is eventually announced, a merger in cycling is very difficult, which is why until very recently, you didn’t see any. There are many complicating factors as we’ll explore in the next few days.

First off, unlike “normal” corporate mergers, merging two teams means putting together two entities that are doing exactly the same thing. You’re not creating opportunities like the product of company A with the distribution of company B, or the software of one with the hardware of another, you’re not combining geographic strengths, integrating vertically or anything of that nature.

You’re putting together one team with 25-30 guys riding a bike and 40-60 people supporting them with another team of 25-30 guys riding a bike and 40-60 people supporting them. If you’re merging two teams that were both on the small side, the resulting team can be a bit bigger, but not hugely so. At most it can be a team of 30 guys riding a bike and 60 people supporting them.

At best, you may achieve synergy in the form of combining a group of riders strong in the classics with a group strong in GC, or good riders on one team with good management on the other, and you may create another 5 rider positions and 10 staff. But the fact remains that with the current rules, you can’t create something bigger than the 30 riders allowed (unlike the old days with for example Mapei).

This is not to say that all the people left out of a merger will lose their job, obviously it’s more fluid than that. More on that tomorrow. Since I will be posting a lot this week with so much going on, an easy way to ensure you don’t miss anything is to subscribe here.

4 Responses to “No urge to merge”


  1. Hi Gerard,

    Interesting peace. Looking forward to the follow ups! Have been following Leopard-Trek from the beginning, so wonder how this is going to play out.

    Regards, Carola

  2. Lokoto Says:

    Was the Garmin – Cervelo Test Team a merger?
    Rgs
    Omar

  3. Matthew Says:

    Looking at the two teams it strikes me that RS need some great riders and LT need a really top Director. Given the merger is now announced as a done deal I think that the combined team looks incredibly strong. Theory doesn’t always translate into practice, but Bruyneel is no slacker and I think that this will make for a great combination – I hope it works out, and I also hope that it isn’t the only way forward for cycling.

    The biggest problem for me in all this is that cycling becomes subject to the same problems as so many other sports where money is the primary factor and it becomes some kind of arms race to spend the most on the most fire-power. That approach narrows the sport, eliminates some of the romance and can (not necessary will) lead to some of the fun and immediacy of the sport being lost. I’m optimistic – but also reserving too much joy at this point.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Picking a roster of 30 riders from the combined teams does provide an opportunity for a lot of talent – though too much top talent (Classics or GC) doesn’t always make a well oiled machine.

    While Bruyneel does have a long record of success and from a “business” POV he may be the man to get more wins out of the Leopard Trek boyz, he also comes with his trail and detractors … I’m not so sure he’d be my go-to-guy if I were trying to build a new future for cycling.


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