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What is the incentive to own a mountain bike team?

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9/1/2018 7:11 AM

Question for the masses...

I often hear "he owns the team". Why do this? What is the incentive? Is the idea if you have enough sponsors and a successful enough race season you can take a salary? I don't see these teams as something that can be 'bought and sold" (like other pro sports).

Someone shed some light. Growing up all I saw were riff raff development teams (big crank, RPM) and Factory Teams (put together by the factory for obvious marketing reasons). At times I'd see a "rider owned" team (which I still see). I just saw this as a way to put a rider in charge, allot him the budget and let him hire/fire at will.

Anyway, what am I missing about being an outside "team owner"? Just something to do for fun or can some of these make money?

EDIT: I'm not planning on starting a race team, just curious as to the inner workings.

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9/1/2018 8:03 AM

Two-part answer:

Team Owner is just like any other job, it's a business with a product/service which anticipates an ROI. This is done though slightly different methodology relative to a business that sells a physical product a.k.a. the sponsors of the said team, in that the business being run is more or less just a huge marketing machine. As a TO, your job is to hire employees (first, the riders) who will showcase a product at it's best potential. There is then the support team that is in place to make sure that the marketing entities [riders] are taken care of (Team Manager), as well as the products themselves (the mechanics' tasks). We tend to be disillusioned by the smoke and mirrors of photos, videos, and interviews, but at the end of the day, it's just a different way to make money - albeit in a much more exciting, interesting, and fun way. Owning a team is a for-profit venture, but those who are in it, do so because they have an exceptional passion and zeal for the sport.

Rider Team Owner is the same as above, but it cuts out the middle-man (so to speak), as they are the ones getting paid directly, and then they divvy up the funds to the other riders (if any), mechanic(s), Team Manager (if there is one), etc.
This is often a route taken because the other teams in existence don't have room for additional riders for one reason or another - or are unwilling to make room...or one reason or another. This option is a lot more stressful, time-consuming, and potentially less effective, as a rider is trying to balance riding/training with building a business, chasing leads, negotiating, etc. Again, it's a for-profit business, but with the primary beneficiary being the main focus of the said team, not someone who is behind the scenes (rider v. nonrider).

Regardless, both types of owners have the same access to resources at events (bibs, info sheets, etc) and are treated equally - in theory, but that's a whole other story. So, your initial impressions of how it all shakes down are pretty much on point. The finer details/nuances aren't really something that is easily discussed/conveyed, but hopefully that helps.

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