Bitter, party of one…

When I first heard that Discovery Channel was stopping its search for a sponsor I assumed it was because they couldn’t find one. Then the four principals of Discovery Channel: Armstrong, Bruyneel, Bart Knaggs and Bill Stapleton held a press conference. It’s not a good environment for a sponsor to invest money into the sport, was the excuse for not continuing the search. Another was that the ASO might only allow national teams, rather than trade sponsored teams into the Tour, thereby flushing away a title sponsor’s money. I’ve got to say those are the lamest excuses I’ve heard! When the sport needs help, instead of saying, “We’re here for the sport and we believe in it. We are investing in it!” Tailwinds is heading for the hills and waiting for things to blow over. Let someone else fix this mess and we’ll maybe come back later, is the message I got from these four gentleman. Instead of being the fighters I thought they were, they are quitting the sport. Do I sound bitter? Hell yes I am! According to Armstrong they had a sponsor 90% signed, but decided not to continue negotiations. “It’s not a good return on the investment.” Well I’m glad to hear that T-Mobile, Milram and Slipstream think otherwise.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Couldn’t agree more Neil! Major corporations are big boys when it comes to evaluating investment decisions – they gather the facts, understand the environment, and then decide whether to take the plunge with their eyes open. So if someone was 90% in, they already knew the risk and were apparently close to accepting it. I wonder if this is the real story??

  2. Karl says:

    Totally agree,they should have kept the team going, maybe put up a little of their own money to fill any gaps.
    now the team is a lame duck, members scrambling to find a job. was looking forward to seeing them at tour of Missouri, now i could care less.
    guess ill root for Slipstream, Toyota, Rock & Republic.


  3. Neil@ROAD says:

    After I wrote this I also wondered if we were getting the full story on why they didn’t want to continue. Could there be other reasons?

  4. Jason Schifo says:

    I cant wait till Tony gets back and you can mosey over to the fence and get the real scoop. Somethings sounded wayy to fishy about the announcement to quit.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The truth is between the words. Any org wanting to pony up 15 big ones a year is going to be looking at some guaranteed involvement from a few tier 1 proven folks, like Lance and especially Johan. Even Disco required some tenure from LA before they signed on. Maybe even bonding on no systemic involvement in doping. These guys have made it, and have seen others getting wiped out. Too much to lose, and they know there are targets on their behinds in a very convoluted business with no reference point anymore. If they had nothing to lose, I’d guarantee they’d be back. Big diff between the decisions of a Vaughters and these guys. No conspiracy here, just risk management, their risk. They are more concerned with keeping what they have, not gaining more. Their choice, don’t like it, start your own team.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good point, potential sponsors probably wanting the owners to put some “skin in the game” in case doping within the team impacts their marketing investment. Could be their view that it’s ok for riders to commit to one year’s salary but not ok for owners, PR guys, & DS. It kind of jibes with the fact that the UCI is still trying to get the teams management & staff to sign their agreement to commit to just that.

  7. The Great Dane says:

    Neil-thought you might have some insight… The rumor mill informs me that the 90% signed sponsor was Starbucks and that, 90% signed or not, they backed out at the last minute, leaving Disco high and dry. Rumor or Truth? You tell me…

  8. MarvinK says:

    Starbucks would’ve been AWESOME. In any case, I don’t really blame sponsors for being nervous. Cycling needs to become a little more professional and consistent in the way they select teams for races, test riders and handle doping problems. I don’t think the public (or sponsors) think there is a consistent or fair process for detecting and punishing dopers.

    For a sport that looked the other way for a LONG time, they cant just do a 180. They need to have programs to help riders get clean and more discreet and consistent ways to handle negative results. This is cycling’s own fault… and the major cycling organizations need to recognize they were part of the problem–and have to own up and help RESOLVE the problem. Right now they act like innocent victims (as do team sponsors) and the athletes are the only people to blame.

  9. blue squirrel says:

    completely lame, they ran instead of fighting, well put. personally i think they wanted to get out ‘clean, and before someone got caught on the team. we all know that people will say anything to seem clean and also do anything to win. as a team manager, i am sure it is hard to control everything everyone does. they got out so they could quit being stressed about getting caught and sleep at night. just a thought, could be totally wrong….

    oh, and masi’s rule ok

  10. SLOVER says:

    You guys don’t see it!! The in house doping is getting harder and harder..
    Now they can just wash there hands and walk away.. Don’t you think that it’s kind of weird that nobody has ever came up hot on that team..
    Then they leave and get popped…
    So to me I’m glad there gone..
    Hopeful some of the new teams can win with out cheating..

  11. Jason Schifo says:

    Answered my own question…Tony Cruz to BMC…
    As for doping Slover is right – albeit I am not happy like he is that Discovery is gone.
    My feeling has always been this – right or wrong – Say Ullrich is popped for doping then everybody in that top group is probably doping also. The playing field for TDF pros is so level that the real game is getting caught or not caught.
    My thing is that I dont care. I dont think about it. Instead I enjoy it for what it is – – The most intense – toughest – – sporting battle there is. Baseball/Football/Soccer/F-1…there is doping in it all. But I cannot let that take away for me the sheer excitement of watching Rasmussen and Cantador going into a track stand as they duel up the Col de Abisque…That was just F’ing cool.
    And cycling is just F’ing cool – –

  12. Anonymous says:

    I guess I don’t see why it is Tailwind’s responsibility to stick it out and fix the sport. They are single-handedly responsible for the growing popularity of cycling here in America. Without them, teams like Slipstream wouldn’t have a chance at signing the names they’re currently signing. In the last ten years the American racing scenes have exploded, leading to great US stage races, and vibrant, competetive local scenes as well. I live in NY, and I raced 8 sanctioned events in the last 14 days. That was not possible 10 years ago, and I think we have US Postal, Discovery, Lance, and Tailwind to thank.

    Tailwind did their thing, won the tour 8 out of 9 years, and a lot of people hate them for it (see previous comments about doping… prove it if you know it to be true!). Now that professional cycling is in the midst of turmoil, why should Tailwind have to stick it out through the muck and mire? Lance has been basically invisible, which I’m sure the sponsors hate, and Johan wanted to retire on top. So would I! They are human beings who accomplished what they set out to do; become champioins of the sport. Now they would like to retire in relative peace and let the idiots that run this sport fight amongst themselves. The have my blessing.

    Everything comes to an end, and while I am sad to see it end while I am such a big fan, now I have the future of American cycling (Slipstream and BMC, both getting some very important names) to look forward to. That wouldn’t be possible without Tailwind Sports, and I thank them for it.

  13. Erik says:

    I have a friend that has been in the industry along time and there was a rumor that ugly stuff was going to come out about disco. I heard this about a week before the “anouncement”. It makes me wonder. If there was a sponsor. Disco didn’t back out for some high minded Ideal. Human Behavior dictates that. LA,Stapleton and company have shown in the past they are willing to do anything for the bottom line (Basso anyone?). I speculate they were afraid of something and decided to cut there losses and go out on top.

  14. Anonymous says:

    i doubt they were afraid..they probably just wanted a guarantee from ASO that the national team thing was just a bunch of hot wind and when ASO didnt give them the answer they wanted they simply said eff you and pulled the plug.
    all four principles are loaded. not like they ‘Need’ cycling.
    it makes the ASO look like a bunch of idiots and really says something when the cleanest, most successful team up and leaves. changes are coming.

  15. Burt Friggin' Hoovis says:

    Fuck lance. If he’s worried about sponsors leaving, maybe he shoulndn’t have been part of the doping culture that’s help drive them away.

    The guy’s a lying sack of shit tool.

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