Diversification: Pro Cyclist sets up a Blueberry Farm?

No one should need reminding in this day and age that continual expansion is not also the best thing, just look at RBS’ huge losses after continually trying to expand rather than consolidate a solid business. However one headline which caught my attention this week was that two time winner of the Giro d’Italia  Ivan Basso had started his own blueberry farm in his home town. Although still only 34 years of age and with no plans of retirement it is clear he has his eye on the long term.

Even more surprisingly I learnt that this was not uncommon among European cyclists who will often invest in the likes of olive groves to secure there long term future. The only business lesson I will even attempt to squash out of this is the genius is going for something tried, tested and with solid returns. These wealthy people are not attempting a ‘dragon’s den‘ style investment with ridiculous returns but something which will always be needed, recession or not; food. Therefore when looking to expand a stable business is it not best to look for how to create the strongest base rather than the gambling on short term growth.

However Basso’s judgement has not always been so hot in the world of cycling; banned for two years for involvement in doping. Although he has seen a resurgence in his career following the work of the late anti-doping coach Aldo Sassi (same trainer as Tour de France 2011 winner Cadel Evans) last year he missed the Giro to concentrate on the Tour de France and finished a disappointing 8th. Next year it appears with Contador either unwilling or unable to ride the Giro Ivan Basso will be back and fighting for the pink jersey.

Since the blueberry harvest will apparently take 8,000 man hours I can only say I hope it doesn’t clash with a grand tour… that would be one busy month!

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