// . //  Insights //  Italy’s Multi-Billion Euro Cycling Opportunity

Cycling in Italy is not only a matter of passion, tradition, and excellence, it also represents an untapped economic asset of extraordinary dimensions. Its number of participants are impressive and surpass those of any team sport, but the opportunities are currently underestimated and underexplored.

Globally, cycling has more than 680 million fans and followers, with a well-balanced geographic representation across continents, including Africa and South America, which have experienced a significant surge in recent years. Moreover, there are more than 5 million active cyclists participating in over 300,000 races around the world. These figures demonstrate the sport’s immense popularity and broad following worldwide.

In Italy, the last edition of the Giro d’Italia multistage bicycle race generated an economic impact of a staggering €2 billion. The race attracted 10 million fans to the streets and garnered a global television audience of 790 million viewers across 200 countries. These numbers speak volumes about the sport’s incredible media reach and the interest it generates.

Italy is also a hub of excellence in bicycle and technical component production. A remarkable 77% of teams participating in the Giro d’Italia prefer Made in Italy technical equipment, highlighting the deep connection between the professional cycling world and Italy’s elite manufacturing industry. Italian companies produce 56% of the technical components used by professional cyclists, and more than 42% of bicycles used by amateurs worldwide are made in Italy. Several prestigious Italian manufacturers have experienced double-digit growth in the industry over the past four years.

Tackling the challenges of building a cycling culture in Italy

However, despite this wealth of tradition, excellence, and economic potential, the cycling heritage remains largely untapped as a business opportunity for the Italian industry. Several barriers hinder investment in the sector, impacting industrial development, employment, and reputation.

For instance, unlike many other sports, there is a lack of programs aimed at nurturing young talents and introducing them to the competitive environment. Additionally, there is a dearth of initiatives targeting the broad amateur audience, and cycling tourism remains underexploited, despite its significant economic potential. It has been estimated that each kilometer of touristic cycling path can generate an annual revenue stream ranging from €110,000 to €350,000; however, despite the significant government investments in alternative mobility and eco-sustainability, there are limited public funds allocated to developing cycling tourism projects and facilities. Furthermore, there is a lack of substantial investment by large Italian companies in elite cycling teams, with no Italian companies sponsoring World Tour teams.

Why cycling is a new frontier for marketing investments

Italian companies, which currently favor other sports for their marketing investments, could potentially boost their returns with cycling. According to our research, return on investment in cycling is 18 times higher than in rugby and volleyball, 14 times higher than in basketball, and up to 10 times higher than in soccer. Cycling offers a significant potential media return ranging between five and 10 times the initial investment and could therefore represent a new frontier for marketing investments. This return is prolonged over time, as the mental association between the company name and the sponsored team lives in the memory of fans even after the sponsorship ends. Many examples abroad demonstrate how cycling sponsorships have generated substantial benefits in terms of media exposure for the companies involved.

Furthermore, investing in cycling brings additional benefits, including greater proximity to customers, increased customer loyalty, and a unique opportunity to associate with meaningful values: It demonstrates a concrete commitment to the environment, inclusion, local community involvement, and healthy lifestyles.

In conclusion, the numbers speak for themselves: Cycling in Italy represents an economic asset of extraordinary dimensions. Fully capitalizing on the opportunities that this sport offers could lead to significant growth for the Italian industry while promoting important values. It is time to invest in cycling and seize all the opportunities that this sport can offer the country.