Backcountry.com confirmed this week that it will step away from cycling sponsorship in 2013 after two years as title sponsor of a UCI Continental team through its RealCyclist and Competitive Cyclist brands.
"While Backcountry.com has a long track record of sponsoring athletes and being involved at the highest level of the sports whose products we sell, we currently have no plans to sponsor a pro road racing team in 2013 or in the future, either domestically or in Europe," said Brendan Quirk, general manager of Backcountry'com's bike division, in an email to Cyclingnews.
The RealCyclist and Competitive Cyclist teams, directed by Gord Fraser, won the USA Cycling National Race Calendar individual standings in 2011 and 2012 with former Spanish national champion and Grand Tour podium rider Francisco Mancebo.
After the 2012 season, On the Rivet Management, the company that owns the team, announced a merger with Inferno Racing's Kenda/5-hour Energy Continental squad. The newly merged squad will retain 5-Hour Energy as a title sponsor, while Kenda will move to the presenting-sponsor role. On the Rivet Management will run the team in 2013. The final roster for the new 5-Hour Enery/Kenda team has not yet been announced.
Inferno's former team had taken on several name changes since its inception in 2005 as the Honey Stinger-Spinergy team. It raced at the UCI Continental level since 2009. On the Rivet Management's team has been UCI Continental since 2011.
Backcountry.com, an internet retailer, had also been rumored to be in talks with Bissell Pro Cycling about potential sponsorship for 2013. Quirk said in the email that although the company has the "utmost" respect for what Bissell has accomplished in the domestic peloton over the past decade, in the end it decided not to sign a deal.
"They are the epitome of a well-run organization and first-class management," Quirk said in the email. "We shared many of the same equipment sponsors in 2012, so it's natural that we'll be cheering for them in 2013."