PwC’s Sports Business Advisory practice sat down with Shayne Bannan, Mitchelton-SCOTT’s General Manager, to discuss the professional cycling team’s impressive success, digital footprint and role in bringing China and the world of cycling closer together.
Shayne, not least thanks to the magical month of May, during which your team recorded 16 victories, Mitchelton-SCOTT has developed into a Grand Tour contender. What is the secret to your success?
The results across the GreenEDGE Mitchelton-SCOTT teams have been amazing and the ingredients required for success at this level require a combination of many factors, but three stand out:
- Identifying and developing talent as opposed to buying big named riders
- Our ability to provide a relaxed and performance-driven environment
- Having a team owner that has given us time to develop and execute a long-term plan
We are an Australian team, but from the beginning have always maintained a global approach.
We have really worked hard in identifying staff and riders from across the globe that fit within our culture. At times, we may seem a happy-go-lucky group of people having fun, which I suppose is the Australian DNA. But when it’s time to work I am proud to say that we have a very committed and passionate group.
The main challenge we have is maintaining the performance environment. In a sport where the sustainability of teams is reliant upon sponsors, it is challenging to maintain a long-term vision.
Your behind-the-scenes videos offer a compelling perspective of professional cycling beyond what fans see on TV. How have you managed to capitalise on the engagement such content has generated?
Mr Gerry Ryan, the team owner of GreenEDGE, has always put an emphasis on the fact that we are in the entertainment industry, and therefore we need to engage with our fans and partners in a way that will set a benchmark for the sport of cycling.
In some ways, cycling is the most accessible sport in the world – particularly to fans on the side of the road. There are few barriers to separate them from their heroes, with riders being in among the fans on their way to the start line and on their way back to the bus. It is a real up-close-and-personal experience.
At the same time, no one was demonstrating how a team really comes together and offering an “up-close-and-personal” view of the riders’ personalities in their natural environment. This was where our behind-the-scenes videos were born and it was important to us that they could be accessed at any time, by anyone.
This mind-set has been installed in our riders from day one, as they are the main characters and the story revolves around them. Our riders get it! They display their natural character and show the emotion which really resonates with fans across the world.
The constant presence of a cameraman has produced hundreds of behind-the-scenes videos and our recent documentary ALL FOR ONE. It also demonstrates our approachability for fans, media and companies alike.
You raised the bar of professional cycling in China. Can you tell us more about your footprint and future plans there?
GreenEDGE Cycling is more than just a WorldTour cycling team and we believe we have a responsibility to improve and grow the sport globally. It makes sense that we concentrate on the Australian area and in particular China. The two motivating factors are:
- Assisting with the development of China into a great cycling nation
- Accessing the region’s significant commercial opportunities
GreenEDGE Cycling are working alongside the Chinese Cycling Association (CCA) to created a unique Chinese Continental team. Together, we are developing an infrastructure and platform for Chinese cyclists to step up to the WorldTour. Our vision is to build the profile of cycling, increase its exposure and develop cycling talent across the region. It is a true partnership utilising the expertise that currently exist in both organisations.
In cooperation with CCA, GreenEDGE Cycling assists in the following areas:
- The development of Chinese cyclists to achieve Olympic qualification
- The development of pioneering strategies and structures for the Chinese Development and WorldTour Team
- The recruitment of the highest quality riders and staff that embrace the philosophies of the GreenEDGE WorldTour team / GreenEDGE China
- The creation of our own culture aligned with the highest ethical standards and sports science protocols
- Working with the UCI, Chinese Cycling and community partners for development of cycling as a sport in China
- I am also honored to have recently been appointed as Chairman of a working committee within the Chinese Cycling Association.
The awareness of women’s cycling is unfortunately still much lower than that of men’s. Mitchelton-Scott, however, has been a pioneer among WorldTour teams in introducing and supporting a female professional cycling team. What inspired this decision and how do you see female cycling evolving in the coming years?
Mr Ryan has supported women’s sport over many years from the Australian Women’s Basketball Team to women’s community sport, and therefore it was important that we also developed a women’s cycling team.
We are proud of this team, which currently sits 2nd in the 2018 WorldTour ranking.
The Women’s WorldTour is in the initial stages of development and we have seen positive initiatives from the UCI, particularity with men’s WorldTour race organisers conducting Women’s WorldTour events on the same day as the men’s races to assist in creating more awareness and exposure.
Women’s sport has great potential and we can see globally the speed with which it is developing over the last few years. The continued development of women’s cycling is a challenge that we are committed to taking on and it is encouraging that six current men’s WorldTour teams also have a women’s WorldTour team.
Thank you kindly for your time and all the best for the Tour de France and next races!