Can Wall Street help revive US cycling? A new program could rewrite funding script
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American cycling will see new financial backing thanks to a unique approach on the traditional funding model that’s creating optimism within the U.S. racing community.
In what’s being described as a game-changer in how cycling is funded, investors in a Colorado-based hedge fund will earmark part of its management fees to support the USA Cycling Foundation and other cycling-focused organizations.
The new funding vehicle, called the Pro Cyclist Foundation, will provide an important new financial lifeline to key infrastructure groups across the U.S. cycling scene.
“Our goal is to work directly with established organizations at the forefront of supporting rider well-being and development, such as the USA Cycling Foundation,” said Greg Casals, Chief Investment Officer at Black Swift Group, a Boulder, Colorado-based investment firm backing the project.
The foundation, which started in 2020, is pumping desperately needed funding into the U.S. domestic racing scene that’s been ravaged by two years of the pandemic.
Since then, the group donated more than $350,000 to various cycling development programs, including HotTubes, Lux, Aevolo, Twenty24, Onto, USA Cycling MudFund, and USA Cycling Foundation, officials said.
‘We want to make sure the funding is there to support them’
Officials said as the fund enjoys success in the financial markets, more of that money will end up supporting the peloton.
“As Black Swift grows their fund and has more success with their investment strategy, more money will become available to support athletes and teams,” a statement read.
The new source of funding comes at a critical time for American cycling. Traditional funding sources, such as corporate and individual donations, have taken a hit during the pandemic.
American cycling is producing many success stories, but unlike many top European cycling nations, USA Cycling does not receive direct funding from national governments or lotteries.
Black Swift representatives said its unique funding model will create a “new way to support America’s top talent.”
“We understand the structure of the sport, its limitations, and intend to improve on existing challenges that prohibit athletes from reaching their potential,” Casals said in a release. “The USA Cycling Foundation’s support of America’s greatest athletes is vital to competitive cycling. Winning world championships and Olympic medals will motivate future generations in the sport, and we want to make sure the funding is there to support them.”
Officials also confirmed that former pro Brent Bookwalter joined the foundation as vice-chairman, and will provide a bridge between the peloton and the fund’s backers.
“In 2022, we plan to establish direct athlete support programs that will have a powerful impact on the careers, performances, and wellness of athletes,” Bookwalter said. “I’ve spent my entire life racing at every level of the cycling world, and I have seen first-hand the genuine need for support at every level. I’m really excited and honored to play a role in offering that assistance and guidance.”
The goal is to help support Olympic and world championship-bound cyclists as well as develop and nurture new talent.