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Cycling News and Opinions
Unfair and Unbalanced
August, 2010

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

August 31: The Vulcan mindmeld between Garmin and Cervelo continues. One big question was, where's Thor going? Here's the answer in a press release I got from Slipstream sports:

"THOR HUSHOVD JOINS SLIPSTREAM SPORTS FOR 2011

"Hushovd Will Hunt for Major Classics Victory with New Team

August 30, 2010 – Thor Hushovd, Norwegian Road Race Champion, nine-time Tour de France stage winner and 2009 green jersey holder, will ride for Team Garmin-Cervélo in 2011. Team Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo SA announced last week they will join forces for the 2011 season to create a new team that will be known as Garmin-Cervélo.
 
"I’m proud to join Team Garmin-Cervélo in 2011. Cervélo has been a great supporter for the past two years and its partnership with Garmin feels like a good fit," said Hushovd.  "I chose Garmin-Cervélo because I have a lot of respect for what Jonathan Vaughters has done for cycling, because I think we’ll have a very strong, competitive team, and because I’ll be able to continue to work with Cervélo. I look forward to seeing what we can all do together next year."
 
"Hushovd started racing at age 9 and went on to win the under-23 time trial world championship and the under-23 versions of Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Tours. He turned professional in 2000 and is considered one of the best sprinters, time trialists, and Classics riders in the world. Hushovd has twice finished in the top three of Paris-Roubaix and will focus on a strong Classics campaign with Garmin-Cervélo.
 
"We are incredibly excited to bring Thor to the team in 2011," said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports. "One of our goals is to become stronger in the Classics, and adding a world-class rider like Thor will get us there. He’s an exceptionally talented rider and a great fit for our new team."
 
"I’m going to focus my season on the Classics," said Hushovd. "My biggest goal is to get one major Classics victory in 2011. I’ve come close over the past few years so I will build on that experience and hopefully, stand on the podium with my new team."

"The creation of the new team is still under development. More information, including official team rosters, will become available in the October timeframe."

August 28: It looks like there will be a merger of sorts between Garmin and Cervelo. When the 2011 team roster is released we'll know exactly what sort of merger it was. I got another press release from Garmin:

"Team Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo team up for 2011
 
"August 27, 2010 - Team Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo SA will join forces for the 2011 season to create a new team that will be known as Garmin-Cervélo.
 
"Slipstream Sports and Cervélo share the key philosophies of developing the next generation of cycling champions and an unwavering commitment to ethical sport," said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports and Director Sportif of Team Garmin-Transitions. "We are happy to work with another company that, like Garmin, so closely shares our goals. We will be adding great talent to an already outstanding roster and we believe the new team will build on past successes and will produce incredibly exciting racing in 2011. The possibilities are endless - on the road and off - and we look forward to what we can achieve."
 
"As we have often mentioned, our primary goal has always been to have some control over the direction that cycling will take," said Phil White, Cervélo co-founder. "With Slipstream Sports, we share common goals and values. Together we will be in a stronger position to keep moving the sport forward."
 
Slipstream Sports pioneered the most stringent anti-doping program in all of professional sports and that will continue with Team Garmin-Cervelo. In addition to the new Team Garmin-Cervelo and the Holowesko Partners U23 Development team, Slipstream Sports will, for the first time, also run a professional women's cycling team.
 
"The fit is a natural one," added Vaughters. "We've wanted to become stronger in the Classics and we're confident that we'll come into 2011 with one of the strongest Classics line-ups in the peloton. Beyond that, we are extremely excited to create a very good women's program."
 
"In our eight years in pro cycling, we have seen the many possibilities cycling offers," concludes White. "The very positive response to a focus on more than just racing has been great. The emphasis we have had on product R&D since 2003 will be integrated into the new team's routine as well.
 
"Transitions Optical is expecting to continue its sponsorship, pending final agreement, evolving into the Official Lens Supplier.
 
"The creation of the new team is still under development. More information, including official team rosters, will become available in the October timeframe."

August 27: The demise of the Cervelo professional cycling team at the end of this year saddens me. It was a wonderful anachronism, a bike company sponsoring a high-level team. I believe the last time a bike company was the title sponsor of a team that could truly compete to win the world's top races was the old TI-Raleigh squad. And they could only do it because Tubing Investments, Raleigh's owner, was kicking in enough dough to make the team work. In truth, the cost of running a top team had been growing beyond the ability of bicycle companies since 1953 when the Ganna bike company told Fiorenzo Magni that they would not be able to fund their team in 1954. Magni hooked up with the Nivea cosmetics company and the switch to extra-sportif (as non-bicycle firms were called) sponsors was started. Soon thereafter Coppi, who was dumped by Bianchi, was riding for the Carpano aperitif company.

Here's a press release from Garmin-Transitions, which will be riding Cervelo bikes next year. Slipstream Sports is the owner of the Garmin team:

"Team Garmin-Transitions today announced it will join forces with Cervelo for 2011. Additional details will be released as they become available.

"Prior to this announcement Slipstream met with Felt Bicycles, who had the option to continue as the bike sponsor of Garmin-Transitions in 2011.  After careful consideration Felt Bicycles chose not to exercise its option.

"According to Slipstream Sports: 'Felt has been an invaluable partner since the inception of our organization and is truly an exceptional company. Together we achieved quite a bit and we have a tremendous amount of respect and gratitude for the contributions and innovations they have made to our team, organization and to cycling as a whole.'

"According to Felt: 'Our organizations met in good faith to discuss an extension.  After exploring all options, we decided for the good of all parties to move on. We have enjoyed great success over the course of our four-year relationship and we wish the team and its athletes continued success in the future. Felt remains committed to the sport of bicycle racing and the ideal that accompanies professional cycling.  Rest assured we will continue to support elite teams and athletes in the future.'"

August 5: Because the statute of limitations on some of the charges in the doping investigation of Lance Armstrong is set to hit this coming spring, the feds are continuing to move quickly. Today the New York Times said the investigators "...questioned many of his former associates, including cyclists who have supported and detailed claims that Armstrong and his former United States Postal Service team participated in systematic doping, according to a cyclist who has been interviewed and two others privy to the inquiry."

A former Postal teammate told the Times reporters of his own drug use and the cheating that went on within the team. This former Postal rider is so far anonymous and said he never tested positive for dope.

Now there are more than just Landis' assertions to go on, giving substance to the investigation. Here's the link to the Times' story.

Armstrong denies any wrongdoing.

August 3: Bjarne Riis has done it. He's found the shekels to keep his team going and more than that, he's signed the world's finest living stage racer, Alberto Contador for two years. Saxo Bank will continue to be his team's title sponsor along with SunGard. Speculation (from me, among others) that Specialized would also be a title sponsor turned out to be incorrect. Specialized will remain the team's bike supplier. Riis has traded sure Tour de France podium placings by the Schleck brothers, who are leaving to join a Luxembourg-based team, for a man who is likely to actually win several more Tours.

Here are the two press releases from Riis Cycling regarding the day's events.

Alberto Contador Signs With Riis Cycling

[03.08 10:50] At a Copenhagen press conference today, Riis Cycling announced the three time Tour de France champion, Alberto Contador as their newest member. The Spaniard has signed a two year contract with Saxo Bank-SunGard.

Alberto Contador has a huge record of victories including Giro d'Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana, Paris-Nice, Pais-Vasco, Tour of Algarve and a long list of stage wins and Spanish national championships. Riis Cycling has undoubtedly signed with one of the biggest and most powerful profiles in the world of cycling ever and given the historical teamwork and team spirit guarantee, this new alliance will be a powerful one in years to come.

"Alberto (Contador) is a world class rider and it's with great pride that I can welcome him onboard the team for the next two years. With three Tour de France victories on his resume and a position as number one on the world rankings, he is sure to stay at the very top for several years to come. Alberto will get a solid, strong and loyal team around him to support him in all terrains and I'm sure that this will be a fruitful alliance," said team owner, Bjarne Riis.

"I'm very happy and excited about signing a two year contract with Riis Cycling. With the unique philosophy and team spirit the team offers I'm ensured solid support from the sponsors, administration and staff of riders that I'm looking forward to becoming a part of myself. Historically, Riis Cycling has always been successful and together, we will have the ability to play a very important role in the world of cycling in the years to come," commented Alberto Contador. 

Saxo Bank Joins SunGard As Co-title Sponsor In 2011

[03.08 11:13] Bjarne Riis, owner and manager of Riis Cycling A/S, announced today that Saxo Bank, the trading and investment specialist, will become co-title sponsor with SunGard, one of the world's leading software and technology services companies.

Following the announcement during the Tour de France that SunGard had agreed to become co-title sponsor for the next two years, Bjarne Riis revealed at a press conference in Copenhagen today that Saxo Bank will be the other co-title sponsor in 2011. The Team will be called "Saxo Bank-SunGard Professional Cycling Team".

Bjarne Riis said:

"I am very happy to announce Saxo Bank and SunGard as future partners. With these two companies committed to the team, we have a solid financial foundation for the future. Saxo Bank and SunGard have ensured that the Team can continue its essential role within the world of cycling and will be able to maintain competing at the highest level. With Saxo Bank and SunGard as two strong backers, our future looks very bright. I am grateful for their commitment and I am confident that this will be mutually beneficial to all involved."

Based on the prospects presented by the Team for 2011, Saxo Bank has taken a strategic decision to sponsor the Team for one more year. Saxo Bank has sponsored the Team since 2008 but took over as main title sponsor on 1 January 2009. According to the Bank, the sponsorship has already achieved great branding results and increased Saxo Bank's name recognition around the world. Saxo Bank's decision to continue the sponsorship for yet another year is based on a genuine wish to support the Team but also a commercial decision to further build on the advantages that Saxo Bank believes is extended through this additional commitment to the Team. The new, unnamed sponsor, announced during the Tour de France, was willing to step aside in order for the Team's new plans to materialize.

In a joint statement, Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen, Co-CEOs and co-founders of Saxo Bank, said:

"Bjarne Riis has delivered excellent results over the past couple of years and has an impressive plan for 2011.We believe it's important to recognize an unprecedented opportunity when you see one and therefore, we have decided to continue our sponsorship for one more year. In Saxo Bank, we always aim for the top and we believe Bjarne Riis and his Team can reach that goal next year. While our past collaboration with Bjarne Riis has been fantastic, we also know and trust the new co-title sponsor, SunGard, and that has made this strategic decision an even easier one to make."

Brian Robins, chief marketing officer of SunGard, said:

"We are pleased to extend our sponsorship of Riis Cycling in 2011 and join Saxo Bank as a co-title sponsor. We share Saxo Bank's enthusiasm for this project and we are looking forward to renewing our collaboration. The Saxo Bank-SunGard Professional Cycling Team represents a fantastic opportunity to gain visibility for our brand in front of a global audience."