They might have been dominating the women’s side of the world cup scene, with Marga Fullana, Barbara Blatter and our own Caroline Alexander, but the cost of being main sponsor is too much of a burden for Specialized.
Although several riders – including Alexander – are on multi year contracts the producer of the legendary Stumpjumper won’t be jumping to stump up cash for 2002. Subaru pulled out as a co-sponsor, after last season, and Specialized have found the racing bill bigger than expected. Team manager Gert Jan Theunisse is now looking for a new title sponsor for the squad, with Specialized moving to subsidiary co-sponsor position.
With many squads already shrunk for this season, does this mark another loop on the downward sponsorship spiral or is it a change of emphasis to reflect real riders. Subaru pulled out of race sponsorship, preferring instead to support the travelling IMBA trailbuilding and teaching crews. Over here the most significant recent brand impact is that of Red Bull, who avoided the team route and instead put cash into trailbuilding at Coed y Brenin and a 24hr race that have made them a household name amongst mountain bikers.
We don’t mean to pull the carpet from under riders who have devoted their lives to becoming the best in the world, but is the idea now so “expected” and alien to most riders that money is far better spent on real world projects like routes and trails?
For a start imagine how much singletrack could be built for the price of a team truck, before you factor in rider salaries, airfares, management costs and all the other costs.