29 November 2007

T-Mobile stops sponsorship.

Well things change pretty fast in the crazy world of cycling. One month I am signing a contract with one of the best pro teams in the World, T-Mobile, working for both the Women's and the Men's team. Not only did the Women’s team win the UCI points classification, putting them as No.1 team in Women’s cycling, they also scored the best mechanic that money can buy. But this was not to last, as almost a month out from signing, the major sponsors T-Mobile and Adidas decided to pull the pin. Now you have probably read all about it in the last few days. Seems like every cycling and news site I looked at, was running with the story. And if you have been out training too long and hard, or you have been hiding in a cave for the last week, you can follow the story here, and here.

A bit of a blow to everyone involved in cycling, but it was not as if we were not ready for it. I think way back in August, T-Mobile were making decisions to pull out of the team sponsorship. As we were all waiting for an yes or no decision back then. Unfortunately, things did not get any better for the team, more shit was yet to come flying at them. The rest of the last few months you can get from any of the cycling sites, as there seems to have been no end of the stories coming through. I would have thought the extra exposure that T-Mobile was getting in the news, would have been better than any advertising company could ever come up with. But it all had to end, German companies don’t really like that type of exposure, and they decided to do something about it. Following on from that other German team, Gerolsteiner, who pulled out of all team sponsoring this year as well. It seems to be a very German thing to follow each other in decisions like this.

Even though things had been getting better under the new management of Bob Stapleton, T-Mobile decided to pull out of a contract, which was suppose to follow through till 2010. And following suit is Adidas, they provided the riding and casual clothes for the team and staff. A big blow for the teams, but that’s cycling for ya. One day you are on top of the World, and the next day you are crashing out of the race, having a long ride to rehabilitation. Now to see if they can remain in the running.

I have yet to hear officially from the team, but in the meantime it sounds like things are all good. The management company that ran the ‘T-Mobile Teams’ is called ‘High Road Sports’. And by the sounds of things, an agreement was struck between T-Mobile and High Road Sports for them to leave their contract two years early. From the rumours already making their rounds on the internet, they paid a hefty sum to leave the contract prematurely. From, this money, Bob Stapleton has issued a few statements that both teams (Men and Women) will continue for the next two years. Probably under the name ‘Team High Road’, but this is yet to be confirmed. He will take his time looking for another naming sponsor, but this will have to be right for the team and it’s agenda.

I found this on the ‘New Team’s’ website.
“High Road Sports, Inc is pleased to announce that its Elite Men's and Women's cycling teams will continue racing in 2008 after T-Mobile has ended its engagement. The teams will now be known as “Team High Road”.
High Road Sports, Inc. holds a ProTour Team License and will seek authorization of the change in the team’s identity and operations from the governing body, the UCI. High Road and its subsidiaries own the infrastructure of both teams.
“T-Mobile's decision to end its involvement in professional cycling is a challenge for the sport and our team. We will review and adapt our operations, and continue to advance our leadership position in athletic success and commitment to clean and fair sport that began during our work with T-Mobile” says Bob Stapleton of High Road.

The boss looking a bit stressed, Bob Stapleton.
2007 was a very successful year for both teams, with the men's ProTourTeam taking 37 victories for the season and the women ending the season as the number one ranked team in the World by the UCI.
“We have an outstanding international roster of exciting young talent backed by proven veteran leadership for 2008” adds Stapleton. “We will likely be the youngest team in the ProTour and believe that together, these athletes can shape the future of the sport with their talent and commitment.”
High Road Sports will use the next few weeks in intensive preparation for the 2008 racing season. “We have good options, but plenty of work to do to begin racing in less than 60 days” notes Stapleton. The team is focused on beginning its 2008 campaign with the first Race, the Tour Down Under in Australia in January.”

So all things working to plan, business as usual for the teams, so that means my job might be safe. My first race was going to be the ‘Tour Down Under’ for the men, so by the looks of things, no change at this stage. I just hope they pick a nice kit to race in, as looking for the ‘Magenta’ shirts in a full peloton was easy at a distance. I just hope they choose something we can see from the caravans in a hurry. More updates as they come to surface.

No comments: