Exergy Development Group pulls sponsorship from men’s professional team
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Exergy Development Group pulls sponsorship from men’s professional team

by VeloNation Press at 6:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Under-pressure company blames the sport for its decision, says it will continue other backing

ExergyWhile the consortium has either fallen short or been late with several of its sponsorship commitments in cycling this season, the Exergy Development Group has announced that its sudden decision to pull its funding from the Team Exergy men’s team is completely due to the ‘scandal and deceit’ within the sport. It has laid the blame for the decision squarely on what it states is the ‘corruption prevalent in the sport,’ although it stated that it would continue to back its women’s and junior teams, and also USA Cycling.

Several of the riders on the men’s squad funded by the alternative energy consortium have been blindsided by the development, particularly as the Wilier Triestina company had recently announced that it had reached an agreement to supply bikes to the squad in 2013, and those riders had believed the team would continue.

They are now left to try to find alternatively employment at a very late point in the season. The company has said that it will honour its financial obligations to those who are unable to do so, but even in that case, there is a chance that those riders will have to compete at a lower level in 2013.

James Carkulis, CEO of Exergy Development Group, spoke about the group’s decision in a statement issued late yesterday. “I am totally disheartened to have to place our sponsor dollars for our disciplined men’s team on hiatus for the 2013 season, but there is no choice given the corruption prevalent within the sport,” he said. “The magnitude of this situation should not be taken lightly and ignoring the severity is not going to rebuild the public’s trust in the sport.

“This has not been an easy decision, but one shared by our team management. In cooperation with management, we will ensure that each rider is placed and provided for. Exergy will not sit idly by, but intends to offer up rational solutions over the next month which regenerates the greatness of this perfect synthesis between man and machine.”

Exergy entered the sport in 2010 and has a range of sponsorships. These include contributions to USA Cycling itself, the men’s, women’s and junior teams, the Exergy Tour, plus the most aggressive rider jerseys in a range of races, including the Amgen Tour of California and the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

It was also due to back the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, but this year’s running of the race only went ahead when a variety of companies stepped in to fill the gap left by Exergy.

The consortium has said that it has been affected by its own shortfalls, as well as legislation changes which have frustrated various projects. In August it suspended $323 million in Idaho wind projects, and is also involved in several federal lawsuits.

Despite those difficulties, in its statement the group laid the blame squarely on the cycling industry. “Exergy Development Group has been the title sponsor of the men’s professional cycling team, Team Exergy, since 2009, and recently announced its return for a fourth season,” it said. “However, circumstances have persisted since the announcement which continues to erode the stature of men’s professional cycling. Exergy Development Group shall not return to this level of sponsorship in 2013.

“Exergy Development Group has patiently awaited substantial changes between the time that the sponsorship was announced and the present, yet the industry has failed to fully grasp the gravity of the taint of scandal and deceit. The company cannot condone half measures to alleviate the severity of the problem, and requires a dramatic transformation to guarantee those who ride clean are allowed to excel at their profession and bring pride back to the sport.”

It said that it would only invest in men’s professional cycling when the funding ‘will be met by a degree of sincerity and determination to reconstruct the sport.’

Worryingly, it said that it would also re-evaluate its men’s race sponsorship commitments and would support those ‘which insist on fundamental change.’ It has not stated what it requires from those organisers, and what cuts it was otherwise considering.

However it made clear that it wasn’t planning on ending all association with the sport. “Exergy shall continue to support women’s and junior cycling through the professional women’s cycling team, ExergyTWENTY16, and expand opportunities for women to excel,” it stated. “The company shall also continue to support USA Cycling and the many events involved. The company shall continue to contribute to a groundswell of supportive efforts which focus on cultivating ethics, grace, and commitment emblematic of cycling like the Fast Freddie Foundation and youth development.

“This critical decision has been forced upon many of cycling’s major sponsors, and although Exergy Development Group shall continue to enable youth development and provide parity into women’s cycling, the company requires massive overhaul to the system to produce a sport that can be trusted and respected before it returns to its previous sponsorship participation.”

It’s position echoes that of Rabobank, which pulled its support from its men’s team shortly after the USADA reasoned decision in to the Armstrong/US Postal Service investigation was published. However unlike Rabobank, which suffered negative press due to the Rasmussen affair and other situations, Team Exergy has not itself been involved in any doping cases.

Rabobank – and now Exergy’s – position contrasts with that of the Lotto and Belisol companies, which back the team of the same name.

In October the Belgian national lottery Lotto said that it “opts for a different approach, in particular the move towards a pure cycling. The large number of cycling fans are entitled to a sport where everyone competes on an equal footing and therefore has an equal chances of success.”

It added that it felt that backers had a responsibility to help effect positive change. “Sponsors who believe in the future of cycling should not continue to look back on yesterday but today, with the experience of the past, to look to tomorrow and help build the future of cycling.”

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