By Sue George
With the news of the Discovery Team's demise after not finding a replacement title sponsor, Trek faced the end of its run as sponsor of one of the most successful pro cycling teams. Trek not only sponsors the team in its current form, but was also the bicycle and component sponsor in the years the team raced under the title sponsorship of US Postal Service.
"We're disappointed, but its par for the course considering the state of the sport," said Scott Daubert, Trek Road Bike Brand Manager.
"We've had an excellent experience with that sponsorship. We enjoyed benefits from their race wins, and we've also grown as a company and made better products as a result of the team and what they did with our equipment. Our bikes, our wheels, our components are better because of the high standards of the team." The company worked closely with riders like Lance Armstrong to develop a range of products; perhaps the most famous is the Trek Madone road bike.
The American bicycle and component manufacturer looked back fondly at its experience, but it wasn't wasting time lamenting the news. "Our initial reaction is to look for another program to sponsor," said Daubert.
Sponsorship of a team which won eight victories, seven under Lance Armstrong and one under Alberto Contador, at the Tour de France could be a tough act to follow, so Trek isn't hurrying to any conclusions.
"We'll be pretty selective," said Daubert. "We'll take a break in short term. It'll be hard to find team that does things as well as Johan Bruyneel and his team did, but we hope to find some team that can do as well as Johan."
"We've talked about both options," said Daubert, who elaborated on the choices that have been discussed internally. Trek can either sit out of the pro road cycling scene for a little while or find another program and hop on board.
"No one has made a decision yet on what we will do. We don't think it's worthwhile to rush into anything new," said Daubert. "If there's still something out there that fits the bill, then we'll go with it. Nothing's obvious now, but we're open to whatever comes our way."
When asked if the young team Slipstream, which has recently signed several high profile riders, might be a potential new sponsorship partner, Daubert replied, "Slipstream is a candidate for a components sponsor, but most likely not with the frame. I think they have an existing deal and we're not a home-wrecker company. If there's an agreement that stands, we don't mess it up."
"There's nothing on the table at this point. We're not in negotiations with them or anyone," finished Daubert.
Slipstream director Jonathan Vaughters confirmed to Cyclingnews that existing frame sponsor Felt would continue with the team into 2008.