After the announcement last week of the latest world rankings, Cervélo TestTeam co-owner Gerard Vroomen has expressed his satisfaction with the squad's place on top of the team standings. Vroomen, who established the Cervélo company, took the risk of establishing a 'factory team' at the end of 2008 and the performances thus far have been outstanding; he has used the result as springboard to search for a co-sponsor.
"We didn't set any goals for race performance, but are certainly excited about the success the riders have achieved in the first five months of the team's existence," said Vroomen. "I'm equally happy with the activities around the other two pillars of the TestTeam project; aiding the bike industry in product development and creating fan access opportunities."
With strong performances from the likes of Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler and Carlos Sastre, the project has been massively successful from a sporting perspective. Vroomen is adament that the other spheres of operating a team have also been addressed. One of those is rider accessibility. "In the Giro, our riders were available for autographs before most stages, and even after some. In the past, the argument was always that such activities hurt the race performance. We were willing to accept that drawback but that doesn't seem to be an issue."
Teams such as Columbia-Highroad place a heavy emphasis on these types of initiatives as the battle to win the hearts and minds of fans - plus restore a sense of credibility in cycling - are vital to maintaining interest in the sport. It's hoped that it will then translate to sponsorship and guaranteed budgets in a tough economic environment. "The feedback we've received from our original TestTeam partners indicates that the value the team has generated to date far exceeds their expectations," explained Vroomen.
Vroomen's statement was also a chance to pitch to potential sponsors, given the immense success the team has enjoyed. "And though, as we've stated in the past, Cervélo enjoys the enormous brand exposure we get from our name on the uniform, we're a brand that doesn't need the 4-5 billion TV impressions generated at the Tour de France. We believe that other companies can benefit more from such exposure, and we would love to work together with another title sponsor to create even more activities around the team.
"With the world number one status, the defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, sprinter Thor Hushovd and a rising star like Heinrich Haussler, the team offers excellent potential to build a strong brand association in the largest annual sporting event in the world."