New name for former Quiznos Pro Challenge could reflect bigger ambitions for event
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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

New name for former Quiznos Pro Challenge could reflect bigger ambitions for event

by VeloNation Press at 7:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Race states that Quiznos will continue with same level of involvement as before

USA Pro Cycling ChallengeThe news that the USA’s new top-level stage race has changed its name has had many commentators scratching their heads about the changed branding four and a half months before the start of the event.

Countless articles have been written about the Quiznos Pro Challenge, raising awareness of the new Colorado event, but the race has now been re-christened the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. According to organisers, Quiznos ‘will continue as a founding partner with the same level of involvement and participation.’

Presumably that means that its level of sponsorship remains as before, despite the fact that it loses some media exposure.

The organisers will reason that it and other brands associated with the event will have a net gain thanks to the level of television coverage which was also announced in Denver yesterday. It has signed an agreement with
the NBC Sports Group, under which 25 hours of cycling coverage will be broadcast over seven days.

That breaks down to 3.5 hour broadcasts on Versus on each day between August 22 – 28, as well as two hours of live coverage on NBC Sports on the final stage.

Speaking about the unexpected name change, race owner and co-chairman Rick Schaden explained why the decision was taken. “As the race continues to build momentum with teams and sponsors from across the globe, and as we significantly increase media coverage nationally and internationally, our new logo will brand the event in a way that better communicates the scale of the event and its audience,” he said.

“Our goal is to help raise the profile of professional cycling in the United States by hosting an epic race in Colorado that draws the top cyclists in the world and mirrors the excitement of the Tour de France.”

Significantly, Schaden and his brother Richard Schaden are 20-year majority shareholders of Quiznos. In February they invested $10 million into the event, money which is in addition to the sum Quiznos already committed when the race was launched last August.

Their involvement, their relationship with the food company and the statement that its level of participation remains the same as before would appear to contradict speculation that Quiznos may have backed away from its support of the event.

In fact, the decision to drop a sponsor from the title contrasts with the Amgen Tour of California, but brands the event – or, rather, doesn’t brand it – in a similar way to many of the sport’s biggest races. Cycling’s Grand Tours have many sponsors but none of them appear in the title. This enables several to have similar levels of involvement rather than one getting preferred billing.

The nature of the name could also suggest that the event is seeking to position itself as the American tour. It’s in the very early stages of its existence, though, and so time will tell how it evolves and if it will aim for a WorldTour licence and longer duration.

The press statement hints that this could well be the case.

“As the interest in professional cycling continues to grow as a global sport, (which is evident by the addition of two new UCI-sanctioned races this year alone in Beijing and Quebec), it is fitting that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge comes along just in time to put a stake in the ground for the United States,” it said. “The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is expected to be one of the biggest and best races worldwide… America’s answer to the Tour de France.”

The race begins on August 22nd with a prologue in Colorado Springs. Six ProTeams have been confirmed for the seven day race, including US squads Garmin-Cervelo, HTC-Highroad, BMC Racing and Team RadioShack plus Luxembourg team Leopard Trek and Italian squad Liquigas. Professional Continental squads UnitedHealthcare, Team Type 1-sanofi aventis, Spidertech-C10 and Skil-Shimano are also taking part.

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