Cycling is at a crossroads
In these tough times, tough decisions need to be made.
I met the general manager of Wonderful Pistachios, Josh Horowitz, at his booth during this year’s Interbike. Not really a booth – more of a location inside the convention center. It was a good location – just across from the SRAM area which was teeming with people checking out the new components or a pro’s SRAM equipped rig.
But parked a mere 20 feet away from the bustling SRAM area was the Wonderful Pistachios team van. Racked on the roof of the vehicle were the team’s bikes – “Broken Bones.” They were brightly colored with an “in your face” vibe not typically seen in the bike industry. I spoke to Josh and he was hoping that the Broken Bones bike line would take off. I knew it was going to be a challenge for a small company like his to battle against the Big Three of Trek, Specialized, and Giant.
I asked him what he would do if Broken Bikes tanked. He replied he’d get a job and spend more time with his family – not a bad option – but one he was trying to avoid. Not because he enjoyed weeks away from his family, but because he was a fan of the sport of cycling and like a lot of us who make a living in it, was trying to stay in it. I wished him well and walked the 20 feet to the SRAM area to take my next meeting.
Along with several other domestic cycling teams, Wonderful Pistachios is not returning for the 2013 season. And it wasn’t with any surprise that I read the interview with Josh on Cyclingnews that he was frustrated with the UCI (International Cycling Union).
“I’ve decided that pro cycling in the US is not a viable way to make a living. With everything that’s been going on with Lance (Armstrong) and all the other turmoil in the sport, there was just no way I was going to waste my time and try to find new corporate sponsorship in this environment.”
He’s not the only one. Rabobank, the Dutch bank with several locations in the States has pulled the plug on title sponsoring their WorldTour road cycling team. They didn’t want their image associated with a sport they considered severely damaged.
“We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future,” said Bert Bruggink - a Rabobank board member.
At a televised news conference Bruggink said that the USADA report that outlined all the charges of doping and intimidation by Armstrong, “was the final straw.”
Another co-sponsor of a WorldTour team also jumped ship. The Japanese car company Nissan was, effective immediately, no longer on the RadioShack-Nissan jersey. Like Rabobank, they had a financial commitment with their respective teams for 2013 and would honor them, but didn’t want their names associated with the squads they had only a few months ago sponsored.
And who could blame either of