Michael Ball Interview Part 2: If I could change the (cycling) world
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Monday, March 8, 2010

Michael Ball Interview Part 2: If I could change the (cycling) world

by Neil Browne at 3:49 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews

Michael Ball - Rock RacingWe left off on our interview with Rock Racing’s Michael Ball two days ago where he discussed his recent difficulty obtaining a UCI license, the situation with American Floyd Landis and how, at least for the 2010 season, he plans to have the strongest amateur team on the planet.

Today we finish off with how Ball’s experience with cycling compares to his life in the fashion world, what he would change in the sport if he could, his new line of Rock Racing bikes and what the future holds for his Rock Racing team.

Read Part 1 of the Interview

VeloNation: How does the fashion world compare to the cycling world? It seems to me that cycling would be an easier industry to be involved in.

Michael Ball: I thought so [laughing]. From an industry standpoint cycling isn't as difficult as a business. As a sport that is something completely different. The sport isn't an industry per se. You are not making any money here. It's a pretty simple model and we're not getting rich. In the fashion industry I have to come out with four collections a year that better razzle and dazzle the buyer and consumer or you’re out of business. In cycling, you are developing new technology, a new paint scheme, the latest this, the latest that. It's a little bit easier. Once you establish yourself as making bicycles you are making bicycles. You don't need to come out with four different collections each year to stay on the front pages of magazines or in the window of Neiman Marcus.

VN: If you could wave a magic wand, what would you change about the sport of cycling?

Ball: I would decentralize it. The UCI holds too much power and that power needs to go to the riders. The riders are the ones that own the sport, but so many are happy to get a paycheck. A lot of them aren't the most sophisticated characters. I use Mancebo as an example. He is a very simple guy and most cyclists are. That is not a jab at them. This is only what Mancebo is interested in: his family - obviously, go out and train, go race, at the end of the day have a nice dinner and a bottle of Spanish wine – no matter where he is in the world and go home and f**k his wife. That's it! It's very simple: training, Spanish wine and f**k his wife. It's not too complicated and I think it is beautiful and that is the cool thing about cycling and what drives me to the sport. The 'pureness' of it. Forget about all the scandals and the politics. At the end of the day it is so simple and such a beautiful life compared to mine. Mine is as complicated as you can get.

VN: Where can someone go to get a Rock Racing bike? How are you distributing them?

Ball: We are distributing them ourselves and building [the brand] it from here. We are looking to get our distribution into South America and Mexico, because we are very popular down there. We have some interest in Europe. But for now we are keeping it close: here [U.S.], Mexico and South America. We are going to let it build in a very natural way. We are not going to go crazy and try to push this down peoples throats. Kind of the same way I built Rock and Republic - just do cool shit.

VN: Will you be able to order a bike online?

Ball: You will absolutely be able to order a bike online. The website is almost finished and looks really cool. The bikes are incredible, as is the apparel. The pricing is in line with today's world. The pricing is in the sweet-spot. I have been riding the prototype bike for over a year and now we have the production bike, which I am riding. Man oh man, really super cool. I am really proud of the production team, the design team, and now the sales team. It's such a great group of people to work with. They are very passionate and focused. We know we have something very special and different to offer.

VN: You seem very passionate about the sport of cycling. Why do you continue to try? Why don't you just say, 'I'm done with this.'?

Ball: I am passionate and competitive. I am not going to let Pat McQuaid of the UCI determine who I am as a person. F**k no! There comes a time when you just have to say these are the guys running things right now. Someday it will change but it will not change tomorrow, so I just have to learn how to live with it, or get out.

I'm not getting out, so I have to live with it. I could change the sport in a positive way and I think in some degree I have. The message has always been clear – whether it's in cycling or elsewhere, people deserve a second chance and an opportunity, within reason, obviously. For those to sit back and criticize or pass judgment on these riders, or myself, or anybody on this planet, look at yourself in the mirror and take inventory on the things you have or haven't done. That is my personal feeling and instinct, to give others the opportunity.


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