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I understand the reason people hire agents to talk for them. Other than not having enough time or knowledge to work out the contracts and other stuff, the agent alleviates the worst part of being a professional athlete, entertainer or whatever. The worst part is trying to sell yourself. Having to explain to someone how valuable you are, how good you are, how much you could/can do for them. It isn’t within my personality to go out and “brag” about accomplishments, etc. I don’t think it’s in most people’s.

I have never had an agent. Probably for a few reasons, but the main reason is most likely that I never got paid enough to warrant one. And I’ve usually been lucky enough to work out business deals with people I already knew. People I would consider my friends. I wouldn’t normally advise someone to go out and make business deals with friends, but the cycling community is so small that it is nearly inbred.

It doesn’t seem fair, but most of the sponsorship situations I’ve been involved with is more because of how I know more than what I’ve done. Don’t get me wrong, your results and resume are important, but there are lots of people out there that are impressive in all aspects of life. From my experience, it is who you know that helps the most.

The sponsorship scene in the United States for cycling is dismal. There are less and less professional road teams. And the ones that are established are closer to big club teams in finances that anything that would qualify to be professional. The same with MTB racing. Especially endurance racing. When I first started riding for Specialized in the mid 90’s, they had 10 riders sponsored. Salary with full paid expenses. Now they sponsor Todd, plus a few regional programs with equipment. The same with Trek and all the others. Most of the sponsorship dollars seem to be directed to the Pro Tour level.

And with the UCI rule where more than 50% of the riders on the lowest level professional team have to be under 27, it makes the racing makeup of professional races stupid to say the least.

So, there are all these Pro Tour level teams disappearing/merging. So we have lots of good American riders that have been racing on an international level coming back and scrounging for support. And it is nearly non existent.

I’ll use Bjorn Selander as an example. Here’s a guy that has ridden for Livestrong and now RadioShack for the past two seasons. Through the merger, he is out of a “job”. I haven’t heard anything about him recently, but back in September he was still needing a ride. Hopefully that has changed by now, because it should. The guy wore the white jersey in the Giro this year, finished the race and was in the top 40 in the final TT, only 2 minutes behind David Millar. That is pretty great for your first Grand Tour when you’re 23 years old. Now he has to take a step back most likely. That doesn’t seem fair.

I’d like to be Bjorn’s agent. I’ve almost know him since he was in diapers and for sure, watching him pretty closely ever since he’s been riding a bike. He just keeps getting better and better. Bjorn is an easy sell. For me it would be easy, for him it would be more like pulling teeth.

9 thoughts on “Agents

  1. Jim

    Every year, in the August or September time frame, all the pro riders I know seem to be beating the bushes looking for work for the next year. This is the part of “pro” cycling that most people never see. Sometimes because their team went away, sometimes because of conflicts within the team they were on, lots of reasons.

    If they are lucky enough to find something, things are rosy for a few months and then the season starts. Maybe the team is under-funded, maybe they didn’t spend wisely but many teams seem to run out of funds before the season is half over. Now what?

    The thing I have discovered is that I don’t attach much to a particular team. The guys on the teams are great but the team itself may come and go all within a year.

    It is a very hard way to make a “living” and I don’t mean just the riding part. These guys spend a ton of time traveling in small vehicles, staying in guest housing, and eating rather poorly compared to professionals in the major sports.

    If you ever get a chance to help some of them out, do it and you will make friends with someone who is living our dream. I have and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

  2. Sean YD

    Start studying, Steve!

    As of Jan. 1, 2012, anyone wishing to represent a rider from a ProTeam or Pro Continental team – with the exception of riders’ lawyers and relatives – will have to have obtained a riders’ agent license. It involves taking a three-hour test from the UCI.

  3. Phil

    Just today in Velo News there was an article about Craig Lewis and Chris Butler joining the Champion System pro team for 2012. Talk about a step down: 2011 both are riding for the top pro Tour teams in HTC and BMC, and next year they will be riding in China supporting42 year old has-been Jan Kisipuu!? Wow. Sad stuff.

  4. jt

    it is even worse for the ladies. “Pro” in the US is definitely a relative term

    ps: I will be your agent, all I want in return are a few worn tubulars and enough spokes to rebuild a rear wheel

  5. channel_zero


    The reason there is no more Pro scene in the U.S. is because Weisel and Co. don’t want one. They have worked hard to make the U.S. another drop spot for most of ProTour peloton.

    The racing that is left is there to possibly find some local talent for the European show. If you want a fertile domestic Pro scene, you would have to get rid of Weisel, Johnson, Armstrong and others leading USACDF. After that, it will take another 20 years to get participation and attendance back to 80’s levels.

    Mountain biking, like cross, is a niche to pick the talent for the UCI ProTour road show. Nothing more. That’s a long way down from where it was with NORBA.

  6. Ted

    But Bjorn Selander is typical example of who you know rather than what you’ve done. Don’t get me wrong – Bjorn is a really good rider, and his performance in the Giro was really impressive. Nevertheless, I remember I raced against him in Europe at the continental level when he was on Livestrong. In fact the hole Livestrong team was not among the strongest teams, and neither was Bjorn among the strongest riders. In fact there were so many guys in the peleton that were stronger, but have never gotten any contract. But that is a fact of (cycling)life. For every 50 equally strong riders there is maybe one guy that makes it. In addition to being strong you need to have a little luck and know somebody. Bjorn knew Lance….

    Once again, don’t get me wrong. Bjorn is a nice guy and he was able to live the dream of a pro for a couple of years. Good for him! And I wish him good luck with finding a new team.

    Another point, is that as the economy gets worse it will become harder and harder to make a living as a rider. I think the way for cycling to prosper in this environment is to go more amateurish. Especially at the continental level, making it more affordable, and maybe twisting the team aspect of the sport. Making it possible for individuals to race at that level. Sending one rider is much more affordable than sending a hole team. Or else we might end up with a lousy level below the pro riders, because nobody can afford it. I’m thinking more like Kermis races in Belgium – pretty competitive even though it is amateur level. Another interesting thought is to go back to no road service. Racing with tires and allen keys in your back pockets – that way you can get rid of the economic aspect of having a team car. Anyways – I digress.

  7. channel_zero

    C’mon Ted, don’t hold back. Tell it like it really is…

    Seriously, Is anyone surprised that LiveStrong development is run like a high school clique? USACDF certainly is.

    There are good people at USAC. They suffer the whims of Weisel and Johnson.

    Ted, you have some excellent ideas to grow the professional end of the sport. Too bad neither the UCI nor it’s American proxy USAC is interested in growing participation. Heaven forbid they encourage racers to spend less.

  8. Lalla

    Johnson once told us college kids that cycling was all about fun. The next day while I was representing Alex “Gun Show” Boyd with a sign on the podium, he told me the fun was over and get out of here. I’ve hATed the guy ever since.


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