US Continental team Canyon Bicycles will make its UCI Tour of Utah debut next week as Hangar 15 after the team's title sponsor, a chain of bike shops in Utah, reached an agreement with Canyon Bicycles of Germany to give up US rights to the name.
Hangar 15 announced the name change on July 4 in a Facebook post titled 'Independence Day,' saying the US company wanted to remove the confusion between the Utah shops and US team versus the German bicycle brand, which sponsors the Canyon-SRAM women's team and is expanding into the US market.
"They would announce they were coming in and then it would stall a little bit, and I think some of that had to do with problems with the Canyon properties that we already owned, the trademarks and things like that, the URLs and those sorts of things," team director Alan Schmitz told Cyclingnews.
"There was a lot of back and forth, probably a couple years of discussions before they finally got to an agreement that works. I saw a Canyon bike in here the other day, so I think they're coming in hot," Schmitz said. "So we went with the new name Hangar 15. The owner was in the Marines previously, and I think it has some special meaning for him."
The team debuted the new Hangar 15 kits last week at the Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon, and now team staff are busy re-wrapping the fleet of vehicles.
"I think we've used up all the red wrap in the valley," Schmitz said. "They stalled yesterday but they're back at it today. Everyone gets a little excited with the name change, though. It seems like spirits are a little higher, maybe because everyone gets new clothing and hats. But it's basically business as usual for the team. It's not affecting us in any way. Hopefully, it's just a little more motivation to get the name out there."
The extra motivation comes at a good time, as the team will be competing in its biggest-ever race next week in Utah. The seven-day 2.HC race starts Monday in Logan.
The team has been competing domestically since 1994, first regionally and then stepping up to the national level in 2009. During the 2010 Tour of Utah, Francisco Mancebo, who won the race in 2009, competed with the team as a guest rider before the race jumped to the UCI level, finishing second behind Levi Leipheimer and ahead of third-placed Ian Boswell.
Following several successful seasons on the national calendar, team owner Mike Pratt decided it was time to move to the Continental level this year. The team brought on board Chad Beyer from the now-defunct Lupus Racing team, Rob Squire from Holowesko-Citadel and Australian Chris Winn from Satalyst Verve Racing Team, all of whom will be racing in Utah next week. The team added Mancebo in April. Returning riders Cortlan Brown, Steve Fisher, Kaler Marshall and Erik Slack will also be on the Utah roster.
"This is it for us. This is the big deal," Schmitz said of the invitation to the race. "This is our biggest race. We used to do it before it was UCI, but it's a whole different world now. And this is the one time of the year we race in Utah. This is why the owner does this, really."
Hangar 15 is coming into the race with two riders who have consistently performed well in Utah and another rider in the midst a standout season. Mancebo won the race in 2009 and took the final Park City stage in 2013, the year he finished ninth overall. Squire, a Utah native, has finished ninth the past two years, first with Jamis in 2015 and then with Holowesko-Citadel last year. Fisher won the overall and a stage earlier this year at the Grand Prix Saguenay, then followed it with a win at the Tour of White Rock.
"We're feeling good," Schmitz said. "Things have been ramping up well and all the guys have been very motivated this year. We've had a nice dynamic in the squad, and a bunch of guys who haven't been on podiums much at all have been on them. Chad Beyer got his first UCI stage win [in Saguenay], which I was even shocked he hadn't had one before because he's been on a lot of podiums, but never the top step.
"We're really excited," Schmitz said. "Rob's been riding better and better, and this is really his race. We're hoping to get him a few spots higher. He's been ninth the last two years, so we're hoping for a top five."
At Cascade last week, Mancebo was 14th overall after finishing second on the opening stage. Fisher was fifth on the final stage and fourth in the criterium.
"He's riding really well and climbing really well," Schmitz said of Fisher. "There are a couple stages that I think will be pretty good for him. He's got that extra gear right now where he can sprint with the fast guys even though he's pretty tiny."
The team's Utah roots also extend past the sponsor and Squire – Brown is from Utah, and Slack recently moved from Utah to Idaho – so there's plenty of hometown pride to ride for next week.
"We never race in Utah," Schmitz said. "I think the guys did one local race in February or March or something. But we don't have a [USA Cycling Pro Road Tour] race in Utah, so it really is kind of a build up for this race. Everyone is excited to do it."
Hangar 15 for Tour of Utah: Chad Beyer, Cortlan Brown, Steve Fisher, Francisco Mancebo, Kaler Marshall, Erik Slack, Rob Squire, Chris Winn