Trek buys out RadioShack-Leopard WorldTour license
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trek buys out RadioShack-Leopard WorldTour license

by Ben Atkins at 11:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
US bike company to “create a new team” based on existing squad in 2014

trekUS bike manufacturer Trek has announced that, confirming recent rumours, it has bought out the WorldTour license of the RadioShack-Leopard team from its holding company Leopard SA, and will “create a new team” based on the existing squad in 2014. The team, currently registered in Luxembourg, has ridden Trek bikes since its formation in 2011 - as Leopard-Trek - continuing to do so after its effective merger with the US RadioShack team, who also rode Trek, in 2012.

Trek has continued to be a name-sponsor of the team throughout, although - as the third in the list - it has not been officially been part of its name, since International Cycling Union (UCI) regulations restrict team names to two sponsors. Nevertheless, the team has referred to itself as “RadioShack-Nissan-Trek” in 2012, and “RadioShack-Leopard-Trek” in 2013.

"We're thrilled to be able to reach this agreement with Leopard," said Trek VP Joe Vadeboncoeur. "The team has established a great foundation of staff and athletes. ‘Great Athletes Ride Trek’ is something we are incredibly passionate about and we are looking forward to everything the future holds with this new team. We will have the ability to create more and better marketing content.

“The rider’s nationalities represent our major markets and become an army of ambassadors at events all over the world,” he added.  “We can have better integration into new product development and the ability for hospitality and activation at events.”

The team will continue to operate under the same management until the end of the season, when Trek will assume ownership. The search for new sponsors is already under way, however, with RadioShack confirming in the spring that it would not be continuing the involvement, which began with the ultimately doomed comeback of Lance Armstrong.

Should a majority sponsor not be found, the team could potentially start 2014 under the Trek name, adding a third bike-sponsored team to the WorldTour peloton, alongside the BMC Racing Team and Cannondale Pro Cycling. Details over the exact organisation of the team, and its roster, has yet to be finalised, but general manager Luca Guercilena is to stay on, while Trek is currently negotiating with "several marquee athletes", of whom details will be released soon.

"I am proud to hand over this project to the people at Trek Bicycle, who have been a very dependable and loyal partner over the past three years” said Leopard CEO Flavio Becca. “When we started in the summer of 2010 we had a blank canvas in our hands, a puzzle. Now, three seasons later, we have a team that has won some of the biggest races of cycling with Fabian Cancellara and put two Schleck brothers from Luxembourg together on the podium of the Tour de France.”

Becca’s three-year tenure of the team has not been without problems, however, as 2011 saw the Luxembourg businessman unable to secure a name-sponsor, and the tragic death of Belgian Wouter Weylandt at the Giro d’Italia. 2012 saw further problems, as Fränk Schleck tested positive for diuretic Xipamide at the Tour de France, and team manager Johan Bruyneel - who joined as part of the RadioShack merger in 2012 - was forced out as details of the Lance Armstrong case emerged.

Throughout the last two years, there have also been rumours of financial problems, as several riders have complained of non-payment of salaries at various times.

The team has been largely successful on the road, however, particularly through Swiss powerhouse Cancellara, who underlined his status as the King of the Cobbled Classics again this spring, while the emergence of a young Luxembourg talent has given Becca particular satisfaction.

“I am also especially pleased to have launched the professional career of a young talented rider like Bob Jungels and that the team has become a major player in professional cycling,” Becca added. “I believe cycling has entered a new era, in which a bike manufacturer like Trek Bicycle takes on full ownership of a team. I have taken a lot of pleasure in running this project and I wish the team and all its members a bright future."


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