Backcountry.com's newest online website CompetitiveCyclist.com will take over as the new title sponsor of the US-based RealCyclist.com Pro Cycling team beginning in the 2012 season. The second-year UCI Continental outfit's roster will remain largely unchanged and the team will again focus on top-level stage races across North America.
"Our goal is to do what's best for our business, the team, our customers, and cycling in general," said Dustin Robertson, BackCountry.com's chief marketing officer. "CompetitiveCyclist has been the number one online retailer of high-end bikes for 10 years. They're a bigger name and a bigger brand than RealCyclist. Putting that name on the pro team will increase support for the team while raising awareness of CompetitiveCyclist. And the more successfully we engage fans and customers, the better it is for the industry and the sport as a whole."
Robertson noted that the new sponsorship might not necessarily add financial gain to the newly named CompetitiveCyclist.com Pro Cycling team. Much like RealCyclist.com, however, CompetitiveCyclist brings a decade worth of strong industry partnerships to the table.
"We have a good feeling about it," Robertson said. "One reason the RealCyclist.com Pro Cycling Team could make a bigger-than-first year impact in 2011 was because, as a retailer, we could leverage our existing relationships with our industry vendors to build up a strong show of sponsor support for the team."
The same people who started the program will continue to carry the momentum into the team's second season including Brendan Quirk, former chief executive officer of CompetitiveCyclist, who is now the general manager of BackCountry.com's bike division, and will be more involved in the team. In addition, On the Rivet Management will continue to own and manage the team and Gord Fraser will return as directeur sportif for 2012.
"There'll be no huge overhaul on the back-end," Robertson said. "A number of RealCyclist employees who specialize in team sponsorship now also work with CompetitiveCyclist, and they'll still be the ones behind the pro cycling team."
During the 2011 season, RealCyclist.com proved to be one of the top teams in the country having won Redlands Bicycle Classic, Sea Otter Classic, Tour of the Gila, UCI 2.2-ranked Tour de Beauce and Cascade Cycling Classic, along with several national one-day events.
"Our plan is to race more," Robertson said. "We won five of seven stage races that we entered, but we only raced seven. That's a super impressive win percentage but an anemic schedule. With more sponsors and more sponsor support, we'll increase our number of races. This will be better for the team and way better for the sponsors. More racing means more visibility. We also plan to diversify our sources for results and continue developing our young American riders."
The 2011 roster was led by Francisco Mancebo, whose palmares includes two overall podium finishes at the Vuelta a Espana and as well as four top-10 general classification finishes in the Tour de France. The Spaniard announced his commitment to the team for an additional two years.
The team also included Cesar Grajales, Cole House, Thomas Rabou, Frank Travieso, Evan Hyde, Tommy Nankervis, Yosvany Falcon, Mike Midlarsky, Josh Berry, Matt Crane, Ian Burnett and Oscar Clark.