Rouleur Classic habitates a very interesting place in the cycling events calendar. In terms of brands, the carefully curated list of high-end product presents an ideal opportuinity to drool over some truly amazing kit, whilst the annual packed shcedule of speakers leave very little to be desired in terms of cycling's elite. It's a nigh-on impossible task to best the event in terms of premium content, but what does it take to pull together such an event? We spoke to Rouleur managing director Bruce Sandell to find out.
Where did the idea for the Rouleur Classic come from?
It came about quite simply from attending lots of consumer and trade shows on behalf of Rouleur. There was no show that catered for our audience either in the UK or internationally; they were either too big and broad, or too much like a craft fair. We wanted to create a bicycle show that was solely focussed on the premium/performance end of the road market and aimed at high-spending enthusiasts in an environment that suited our brand. We wanted to create something that they would give up a day of work for, away from their family or – most importantly – a valuable day off their bike.
The event is an exclusive, intimately curated celebration of the very best in road cycling, with an exhibition, gallery space and theatre for on-stage interviews with cycling legends, all put together with Rouleur’s meticulous eye for detail. Unique in the world of cycling, the event has proved a great success amongst exhibitors, professional riders and paying attendees. Now in its third year in London, we are now in discussions to launch overseas with Australia, Italy, Germany, the Middle East and USA being our initial targets.
Did you consciously set out to create an interactive experience?
Staffed entirely by passionate cyclists, we are obsessive about the sport and its rich heritage. This passion goes into everything that Rouleur puts its name to. We simply approach the show in the same way as the publication and website, trying to represent the very best in the sport for our knowledgeable audience.
There was no show that catered for our audience either in the UK or internationally; they were either too big and broad, or too much like a craft fair.
In 2016, we themed the show around the Grand Tours and this year we have have done the same around cycling’s legendary Monuments. So, we will have content, installations and iconic riders connected to Milan-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia. We have an incredible, priceless collection of Tour of Flanders bicycles, jerseys and memorabilia on display amongst many other exciting things on display.
The event is packed with a prestigious lineup of speakers, how do you decide on these names?
The Rouleur Classic Theatre has become a very big part of the show and it’s one of the many things that demonstrates the real point of difference in our show. With racing sitting at the heart of our brand, it is important that as well as bringing the very best brands to the show, we also have professional riders past and present - the real icons of our sport. This means that the show successfully brings Rouleur to life over three days every year.
With our 2017 theme around the sport’s legendary Monuments, the Rouleur Classic Theatre is hosted by acclaimed cycling commentators from Eurosport, ITV and SKY and brings together some amazing talent. This year, we have Fabian Cancellara, Johan Museeuw, Philippa York, Patrick Lefevere, Brian Holm, John Degenkolb, Jonathan Vaughters, Alberto Contador, Ivan Basso, David Millar, Roger Hammond and many others.
Do you feel like the industry as a whole has an issue with events simply not capturing the audience's attention?
Like hotels and festivals, there has been huge growth in the ‘boutique’ approach as opposed to big mass market 'one size fits all'. We have taken more influence from these innovators than traditional bicycle exhibitions, focussing hard on what excites and surprises our audience, taking a unique Rouleur approach to creating the concept.
There is an attention to detail in everything we do from the catering’s unique Belgian flavour to illustrated quotes about the Monuments throughout the venue and an interactive Paris-Roubaix shower installation. This is what is getting our potential international partners excited about the Rouleur Classic, as the concept translates very easily to other parts of the world with a passion for road cycling.