In addition to the rider transfers that occur during this time of year, teams often change bike sponsors.
As you might have noticed in comparison to rider’s transfers, which is a game of musical chairs due to one and two year contracts, bike sponsors don’t change too much – at least for 2014 they don’t.
With Euskaltel-Euskadi folding due to the poor Spanish economic conditions and the almost certain demise of Vacansoleil-DCM who have lost their title sponsors, Orbea and Bianchi looked to have lost their spots on the WorldTour stage. However, the Belkin pro team signed an agreement with the Italian bike company and the green kit might have a splash of celeste next year. Unfortunately there hasn’t been any reports or rumors that suggest Orbea bikes are going to continue on the WorldTour scene for next year. Stateside Orbea is under the Optum p/b Kelly Benefits team so at least they still have some American love.
Of course when the title sponsor is a bike company there won’t be any change. BMC, Lampre-Merida, Cannondale, and Trek (taking over ownership in 2014 of RadioShack-Leopard) are riding their respective bikes.
In 2014 Specialized continues to sponsor Astana and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. I’m not sure what’s going on with Saxo-Tinkoff Bank team. If you’ve been paying attention to the train wreck that is the Oleg Tinkoff’s Twitter account, he’s been quite vocal of his displeasure with team rider Alberto Contador and even suggesting that he’s going to form his own team. Turns out Oleg is more of a mean drunk than happy.
By the end of July, Riis issued a press release stating, “During the course of our extensive negotiations with Tinkoff Bank, it has become clear that we are unable to settle on common views and the ideas that are necessary for our partnership to grow and be successful for both parties beyond 2013.” That’s a nice way of saying, “We couldn’t negotiate with a guy on a vodka soaked bender.”
Perhaps Specialized comes in an is a co-title sponsor for Riis? Next year Trek is gambling on Fabian Cancellara winning the Classics because if this year is any example, Pinarello might as well add Tour de France yellow as a permanent color for the Dogma.
If Fabs dominates the early part of the season, Trek is going to sell a lot of Domanes. In the battle for the Spring classic campaign Specialized might see the value of having their name added front and center to a team’s official name. Maybe Saxo Bank – Specialized or Omega Pharma – QuickStep p/b Specialized? I know my journalist/ P.R. friends would love that wordy combination. I also suspect the UCI might take issue with the length of the name.
Focus bikes is still going to be under the brown shorts of Ag2r-La Mondiale for another two years. Signs point to Jelly Belly with reigning US road champion Freddy Rodriguez continuing to ride the German bike in 2014.
One team that is a question mark bike-wise is Argos-Shimano. The team has been aboard Felt bikes, but there’s rumors that Giant might be the Dutch squad’s bike going forward. This rumor actually holds water as Belkin is switching from Giant to Bianchi in 2014. Giant is one of the top three bike companies in the world and having a WorldTour team on their bike is almost mandatory. The move to a Tour de France stage winning team like Argos-Shimano is smart.
I just returned from the Felt 2014 product launch and from a technical standpoint riding one of the AR bikes would be smart choice for a team. Like we saw in stage 7 of the Vuelta a Espana, a win can be as narrow as a tire width and a bike as aerodynamically slippery as the AR could be that slight winning edge.
Eurobike is in full swing and team owners are huddled in the back room of their equipment sponsors’ booths signing the dotted line for next year and beyond. I’m sure we’ll see more bike sponsor details after the German show.
2014 Bike Sponsors
Ag2r-La Mondiale: Focus (Continuing through 2015)
BMC Racing Team: BMC
Orica-GreenEDGE:Scott (Continuing through 2014)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step: Specialized
Belkin Pro Cycling: Bianchi
Team Katusha: Canyon
Trek (formally RadioShack-Leopard): Trek
Team Saxo – ?: Specialized
Team Sky: Pinarello (Continuing through 2016)