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By: Bogdan Fink
Not all cycling teams are purely commercial entities
Adria Mobil is a Slovenian pro cycling team and I am its manager. We are a Continental team with ambition to become ProContinental so on the surface, we’re not so very different to lots of others. However, our story is different, and probable unique.
In the normal course of events, cycling teams are founded for purely commercial reasons, even if they are sometimes funded from central government. Adria Mobil is actually the sponsor of the Novo Mesto Cycling Club, and has been since 2005. Novo Mesto is a town of 23,000 people in the south east of Slovenia, midway between Ljubljana and Zagreb. The club started in 1972 and the pro team was simply an extension of a community-based cycling club, created to serve the local population and to promote cycling.
At any given time we have about 80 riders and six full-time staff. Our objectives are clear – we want to win races and also to develop the sport in Slovenia. So aside from running the professional team, we organize the Tour of Slovenia each June, as we have done since 1992. Vicenzo Nibali won it in 2010 and it’s important strategically because of its timing and our terrain. This year, we had four WorldTour teams take part and the winner was Tiago Machado, from NetApp. Then, at the end of August, we organize Croatia-Slovenia, a 1.2 race between Zagreb and Novo Mesto, and much more besides.
One of our principal objectives is to develop riders to compete in the WorldTour. So many of them have progressed that it’s impossible to list even half of them… it’s a starting to become almost a production line. The most famous right now are probable Robert Kiserlovski from Trek, Jani Brajkovic from Astana, Simon Spilak from Katusha and Marko Kump from Tinkoff. On the surface, the fact that we lose so many riders may seem counterproductive but it’s exact opposite.
You see, Slovenia is a very small country. With a population of only two million, we’re never going to be a global powerhouse but we are becoming a real cycling country. In recent years we’ve seen unprecedented growth in the volume of people out on road bikes. Seeing them, I’m sometimes staggered by the numbers.
There are all sorts of reasons for this phenomenal growth – the beauty of the country, economic development, health issues – but the success of our riders abroad has undoubtedly become a major factor. When they do well in the big European races, they connect with the general public, which partly explains why we’re keen for them to move on from our team. Parents see that there’s way for their kids to progress as cyclists and that if they have the raw talent, we’ll give them the best possible chance to make it. That’s why we have junior riders coming to the club from all over Slovenia and Croatia, and why the WorldTour teams continually keep a close eye on our youngsters.
So it’s a combination of factors which all play into one another and help to build a solid foundation for the sport. The Tour of Slovenia doesn’t have government funding but each year we’re gathering more momentum and better teams. That’s simply because more people on the bikes ultimately delivers more sponsorship. If the people who make sponsorship decision are well disposed towards the sport, they’re going to be more likely to invest. That’s why I’m very hopeful that fairly soon we’ll have live TV coverage. The race needs it and deserves it, so hopefully our government will start to see the benefit of cycling to promote the country as a whole and invest in its future. Once you have that, you can achieve something really sustainable, but it’s better to build it carefully than to just try to throw money at it.
It’s the same with the professional team. Last year we finished sixth in the Europe Tour rankings, in spite of us being Continental and not being invited to many of the major races. We finished above big Pro Continental teams such as Cofidis, MTN, NetApp and Bardiani, which is pretty incredible, when you consider our limited resources. We have the performance of a high level Pro Conti team but we don’t want to risk our future – and our history – by taking unnecessary financial risks to join. We have a wider responsibility to Slovenian cycling, so we’re taking it step by step.
In the last couple of years, Adria Mobil Cycling Team achieved a number of top results in all selections, and upon these achievements we will design the strategy and goals for the upcoming season as well. When success raises higher and higher, so do expectations for the future and I believe that the team is very competitive and has the potential to achieve ambitious goals. The Continental team Adria Mobil asserted itself in the world of cycling with a 20th position in last year’s world team championships in Florence. This is the best result ever achieved by any Slovenian cycling club up to now.
The 2014 team is almost identical to last year’s, except that we “added” some youth to it. I am convinced that the team will continue with the string of successes, since the members have the desire, drive and knowledge, however, a bit of luck will always be needed in sport. Last but not least I would also like to thank our faithful sponsors, above all the general sponsor Adria Mobil d. o. o., which in these difficult economic times continues to support the sport of cycling.
Adria Mobil Cycling sponsorship
“The bond between Adria Mobil and the Adria Mobil Club was forged more than ten years ago and was transformed from a close cooperation to a real partnership. This mutual cooperation and professional team work is corroborated and demonstrated by excellent results. I am particularly pleased that we have, through dedicated team work, successfully placed the Adria trademark onto the international athletic-cycling scene and managed to present the active leisure philosophy to a large number of people.”
Adria Mobil, d. o. o., Novo mesto is one of the leading companies in the European caravanning industry. The rich history of the company dates back to 1965 when the first caravan was developed and manufactured in Novo mesto – the Adria 375. The fact that the very first caravan was exported to and sold in Sweden speaks of a market- and export-oriented business strategy, which continues to be pursued in Adria Mobil to this day.
Adria Mobil offers a comprehensive range of motorhomes, caravans and mobile homes that rank among the most popular in the European caravanning industry. The company’s product range is complemented by tourism products and services that enhance the main activities and services of the Adria brand, which offers its customers a full range of products and services for the active use of their leisure time.
About Bogdan Fink
Bogdan Fink was born in March 1972. He won bronze medal at the 1990 junior World Championship road race. Today he manages the Adria Mobil team, and organizes the Tour of Slovenia stage race.
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Source: ProCycling Magazine