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t-72

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Just to recap, we have had a few speculations about someone mounting a pro conti team from a base among the strong Norwegian teams racing at continental level, and that was after Thor Hushovd failed to mount a WT team in the middle of the economic downturn some years back. In this forum we have had a couple of threads on the topic:

The Norwegian Conti teams scene ... and then there were three (the 2017-2018 edition)

The inevitable Norwegian, eh, Scandinavian pro cycling team thread (started 2016)

The stream of rumours in this thread, without anything really concrete happening, led Leadbelly to shut down the discussion with the hardest linguistic brake-turn and stop seen on Velorooms:

Evitable seems more apposite now. :-x

Anyway, time has come to 2019 and there already is one Scandinavian pro-conti-team out racing #riwal Riwal-Readyness. That team may deserve their own thread or they can continue under here.

The real news in this thread is that there is now yet another Scandinavian team aiming for a Pro-Conti license and (trumpets!) it may come as a little no surprise at all that it is these guys: #unox Uno-x team.

https://twitter.com/UnoXteam/status/1091281319353561088

There are hints of collaboration with some Danes, probably the  #coloquick ColoQuick team.

Everything is reality these days,  on TV.  Three brothers with a european championship in track running each and a crazy coach/father was one of the more popular television series here last year. Now we can follow the #unox team in their attempt to make it to the Pro-Conti ranks in the series "the next step". Fortunately (for me) it is in Norwegian  ;) so I don't expect these guys to beat #mitchelton  "backstage pass" series on viewers just yet. However, there is one thing this team remains very clear on: they are in development, so watch behind you.

Episode 1:
   


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  • Leadbelly

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    Is signing any of these guys a likely proposition?



    Difficult to envisage Kristoff or EBH making the step down just yet. They'd likely be waving bye-bye to riding most of the "big" races as I can't see even AK's presence in the team guaranteeing an invite to PR, RVV etc ahead of the usual suspects.

    The others though could be options and most are still pretty young.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Is signing any of these guys a likely proposition?


    Kristoff (and Bystrøm) are effectively part of #coop Team Coop - Kristoff is co-owner, his stepfather is the team coach, etc.
    I don't see either of them signing with what's basically a rival team, even if #unox step up to ProConti.

    Most of the other Norwegian pros 'grew up' with what is now #joker Team Joker, but that team feels as if it's on a slow decline. They lost long-time DS Gino Van Oudenhove to #didata and their status as main U23 developer to #unox.

    It's not out of the question that someone like EBH could move across to a Norwegian PCT for the last year(s) of his career - but that will not be in 2020 yet, I think.

    As for the 'smaller' names:
    Halvorsen is reaching the end of his neo-pro contract with Sky, and as a sprinter type, that team was never going to be his forever home. Why not go back home and do what he did in 2017, only with more experience and an even stronger support team?

    Odd Eiking may or may not get a new offer by #wanty - if he doesn't, a Norwegian PCT would be a godsend for him. The same is more or less true for the other names on that list, too.
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    t-72

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    Leadbelly you already explained to me that Davide Cimolai was #academy's go to man for the Milano-San Remo. In that case, I would sign August Jensen, Sondre Holst Enger and Sven Erik Bystrøm and the only #academy guy famous for his ride in MSR, Krists Neilands, just to bump #academy out of the race  :D If that doesn't work, flood Italia with stoccafizzo for a year and try again.  :D

    On a more serious note, I think the potential is there with the slightly less famous Norwegian and Danish riders and maybe not with the currently most famous ones. Uno-x does development and may have the patience to wait for results. Besides, I'll like to see Jensen beat Cimolai  :D he's a better pick for MSR than most people realize, I am sure, and I am not biased  :angel
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    I think without signing Kristoff (or going full diabetic) the chance of getting a MSR invite is next to zero. And the way Jensen is riding with #academy so far, he can probably feel lucky to end up in the lineup for Handzame Classic instead
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    LukasCPH

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    There are hints of collaboration with some Danes, probably the  #coloquick ColoQuick team.
    That escalated quickly:
    https://twitter.com/Sykkelsjefen/status/1092694505873129473
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  • t-72

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    That escalated quickly:
    ....

    Uno-X has a structure that is in some ways similar to Team Sky. Basically, Uno-X isn't the sponsor of the team, it is the team that is a part of Uno-X[1]. In an interview I read a while back they said something about this makes it possible for them to act on opportunities that present themselves faster than with the traditional model, where a cycling team is organized as a company that receives income from sponsorship. I think we have just seen an example of these things actually happening and not being just talk. The leadership in this team is top notch  :cool

    The collaboration with the Danish team comes because Uno-X are fuel retailers in Denmark, so it is a natural extension of their cycling domain to match their retail activities.  :)
     1. If I understood all this business talk correctly!
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  • LukasCPH

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    The collaboration with the Danish team comes because Uno-X are fuel retailers in Denmark, so it is a natural extension of their cycling domain to match their retail activities.  :)
    Plus #coloquick have Julius Johansen who is bound to go pro next season ... :shh
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  • t-72

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    "Det neste steget" - The next step, Episode #2


    They hope to finally declare they will apply for the pro-conti license in a few months' time.
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    They hope to finally declare they will apply for the pro-conti license in a few months' time.

    Surely they will apply. It would be very anticlimactic indeed if five or six videos down the line we suddenly get "Oh we've decided we're not good enough, maybe we'll apply in a couple of years time. Bye"

    Btw the videos do have subtitles if any non-Norwegian speakers are interested.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Surely they will apply. It would be very anticlimactic indeed if five or six videos down the line we suddenly get "Oh we've decided we're not good enough, maybe we'll apply in a couple of years time. Bye"
    I agree that it's virtually certain they'll apply, not doing it after building it up like this would let all the air out of the balloon.

    But it's good marketing.

    They probably knew they had the potential for ProConti since they bought and refurbished a team bus last (?) year. A team bus for a Conti team, please - I'm sure the riders love it, but it is a bit of overkill.

    The money is definitely there with Uno-X, the talent is there as well - no reason not to make the next step.
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  • t-72

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    The uno-x boss (uno-x the company) seems to be eager, that can't be a bad sign for the plans.
    Edit: seems he deleted it before I was done posting about it :(
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    is there a plan apart from just stepping up for the sake of stepping up?

    Just asking, as I am struggling to see one with Riwal or W52 for example.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Just asking, as I am struggling to see one with Riwal or W52 for example.
    Porto seems to just go ProConti because they could, yes.

    For Riwal it was the next logical step after being the best-run Danish Conti team for several years now, signing a number of riders (incl. from rival teams) they might not otherwise have gotten, and giving them higher-level races. I'm 100 % sure they will go for winning the Tour of Denmark this year, and with more than one leader.


    Also, what plan do you think there should be for stepping up? You don't ask a second-division football team why they want to win promotion, as "surely you'll be fighting relegation the following year"?
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    hard to say, really. But a first league football team plays the big clubs at least. Riwal for example seems to do more or less just do the races they could also do as a conti team, and also not add enough strength to really justify any WT race ambitions, tbh.

    That's not necessarily a bad thing of course, I'm just not sure if going PCT is really an advantage for them then.

    Teams like Stölting (or also the US teams) were not really strong as well, but they had/have the advantage of the nationaility at least, or one or two riders (like Wegmann for AGR) who brought them an invitation to one or another race.
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  • t-72

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    is there a plan apart from just stepping up for the sake of stepping up?

    Just asking, as I am struggling to see one with Riwal or W52 for example.

    There is a blurred line between amateur and professional teams that goes somewhere in the conti team range and it has previously ben commented here that there are differences even between Norway and Denmark when it comes to this. The riders on Norwegian conti teams has have not been paid enough to make cycling a livelihood, thus the typical rider on a Norwegian team has been an under-23 guy looking for a job in a world tour team. Some Danish teams were rumored to pay their riders better, thus making room for older riders that need compensation so they can support a family, own a home etc. Thus Riwal declaring themselves pro-conti to some degree can be seen as a formality, their organization was already at that level, more or less.

    Uno-x has also been building a very serious organization, it appears that their financial backer has a long-term perspective and they have riders that within a season or three may perform on a very high level. Most of all, I think the declaration of the intention to go pro-conti signals to these riders that they intend to pay them a decent worker’s salary in the future and there’s no need for them to desperately seek pro contracts elsewhere to keep their careers rolling in financial terms. A number of Norwegian riders have gone to pro-conti teams elsewhere over the last couple of years, and most of those are not developing very well, while a ‘local’ Pro-conti team focusing on development can simply make better riders out of them over the longer term. Uno-x May be able to hold on to their moneymakers with this strategy.

    I also think the better times in the European economy in general is a bit of a driver for the inflation in number of pro-conti teams we are seeing. However, even in the ‘smaller teams and more teams’ - era there will now be more teams than spots in the WT races. I am not sure that is a huge problem, and Uno-X is a very good example of a backer that may be more interested in seeing the Northern Europe regional racing scene grow in quality, and impact in the regional markets rather than a wildcard for one of the lesser known WT races. More Tour of Yorkshire (they get everyone roadside) than Giro de Italia (Only cycling nuts care), if that can describe it. For uno-x, making the Danish races more important can be better than racing important races in France.
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  • LukasCPH

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    I think the declaration of the intention to go pro-conti signals to these riders that they intend to pay them a decent worker’s salary in the future and there’s no need for them to desperately seek pro contracts elsewhere to keep their careers rolling in financial terms.
    And 'a decent worker's salary' in Norway is far above even the WT minimum wage. :D
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  • Leadbelly

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    So shouldn't they be announcing something soon? I haven't watched any of the more recent videos and maybe something was mentioned within them, but I'm sure "around the time of Flanders" was talked about here (or there or somewhere).

    The team hasn't exactly been racking up the race days, but their two best riders Foss and Leknessund gave a timely performance while riding for the national team at Kattekoers.
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  • t-72

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    So shouldn't they be announcing something soon? I haven't watched any of the more recent videos and maybe something was mentioned within them, but I'm sure "around the time of Flanders" was talked about here (or there or somewhere).

    The team hasn't exactly been racking up the race days, but their two best riders Foss and Leknessund gave a timely performance while riding for the national team at Kattekoers.

    That's right, the announcement is about due now, but this is their internal timeline so a day or a week cannot really make a big difference in the year perspective that we are talking about here. If they have decided they will announce, if not we may hear nothing for a while still.

    Concerning the racing I think you have missed a few races:
    Volta ao Alentejo: #unox Herman Foss 4th overall and #white jersey. For comparison, the now famous #euskadi Sergio Higuita (soon with #ef) finished 5th, behind Foss.  Raol Alarcon was 3rd and Foss was 15 seconds down on GC after 4 stages including a hilly time trial.
    Tour de Normandie: #unox Resell got a 2nd on stage 4 and moved up to 2nd on the GC as well but was enjoying a technical just when the peloton split on stage 6 and was lost in group 2.
    Gent Wevelgem U23: Two #unox riders with *no finished in top 10. The thing to notice here is that it was Leknessund and Foss. What to notice? The #unox climbers are in the finale of a belgian classic. The results are better than they seem!.
    In addition to this, Markus Hoelgaard won the Tour of Rhodes.

    Link to team results page: (it will update, but this post won't..
    https://firstcycling.com/team.php?l=13367&hva=res
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  • t-72

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    So you all know it by now, I guess: they are toing to apply!  :cool

    https://twitter.com/unoxteam/status/1113001935056130049
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  • t-72

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    Late update on this very important day for cycling in Norway and Denmark, but I have been travelling with my job today, and not really able to contribute, but I was able to see the press conference (recorded) on youtube tonight. From that I can conclude that there isn't very much new to report actually - the only new thing today was the announcment that they will apply for pro-conti license. The rest we know from before, but for those that don't understand spoken Norwegian , here are some key points:
    • Uno-X owns the team. The team is an integral part of the company, and the decision  to apply for pro-conti license is not just based on sporting criteria, they re-iterate that their committment to cycling makes business sense. Exactly how it does that, was not covered at the conference.
    • They insist that they focus on development and that they are in this game for the longer term, and that translates into their strategy. For example, they will not try (hard) to sign any star riders for the 2020 season "we don't want to be evaluated on how things are looking 6 months from now, not even 1 year from now. This is a long term project"
    • At the same time they will not inform on the team's budget or for how long the team will run. So we know they have access to funding, that the intention is to keep running for the longer duration but we don't know how much funding and how long it will last. Considering that they own the team, Uno-X can do this. Until now, we have only seen they upside of this, ie suddenly they have a lot more money to spend than anyone really thought they had. This indicates that the company is well run and has capacities on top of what they devite to the cycling team (to re-iterate: they hired a former team Sky DS, they more or less financially rescued the Norwgian cycling cup races AND the national U 23 squad, both struggling due to the Bergen Worlds finance scandal and a sudden increase in cost of running races. They hired Stig Kristiansen, former *no coach. They suddenly showed up with a team bus slightly above conti team standard. It may be worth noting that former Cannondale pro Kristoffer Skjerping says Unox is the best organized team he has been involved in - in other words, better than Cannondale.
    • Riders will be Norwegian and Danish (they have a collaboration agreement with #coloquick ( <--- these jerseys need an update now, Lukas....)
    • They have not contacted any prospective new riders yet, but they have lists of riders they will be contacting not that pro-conti status is announced. I don't think there will be stars but maybe some former WT/Pro-conti riders that they think they can be developed further.
    • Number of riders to increase, but they will still keep a U-23 segment.
    • Support organization will grow and that probably also includes more trainers.
    • It is not clear which races they are targeting, but  Belgian races are mentioned. However, my impression is that they will focus more on getting better results in races that they so far have been happy to compete in. They will race for the victories.
    • Personally I would expect them to be more agressive at pursuing options for the good climbers and GC riders, and I will there fore speculate wildly that Tobias Foss could leave the team for a world tour team already next year. It is not a secret that this will probably be #jumbo.
    • There has been a near endless stream of cheers in social media from notable persons in Norway's cycling community today, I may come back with some more on this tomorrow.
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