Mountain bike team takes a business-savvy approach
The newly formed Epic Endurance Cycling Team got off to a fast start in 2011 with a podium appearance in Tucson, Arizona, at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo late last month.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, the team was the brainchild of Owner and Director Bill Wheeler, who also races. With the help of three friends and current teammates - Anthony Thornton, Brandon Newcomer and Les Handy - Epic Endurance Cycling was established using a different model than most cycling teams.
"We felt the current business model [of cycling teams] was not working and wanted to make sure we were setting a new standard," Wheeler said. "Teams continue to disappear at an alarming rate due to company sponsors receiving little to no return on their investment. The sponsors must make sure now more than ever that they are using their advertising and marketing dollars wisely."
Epic Endurance Cycling is made up primarily of business professionals and entrepreneurs, who also happen to be talented racers and overall lovers of mountain biking. Epic's two separate teams - a Professional Team for professional riders and an Elite Team for elite riders - combine to focus their efforts on promoting sponsors and giving back to the cycling community.
"I run a multi-million dollar operation [aside from the team] and know what I expect from the people I partner with in my business ... so I had an understanding of the type of individuals I was seeking for the team," said Wheeler. "Each racer was hand-selected based on this criteria of understanding what our sponsor partners need as well as that racer's ability to market our partners in a professional, positive fashion."
The team focuses the bulk of its marketing energy in the social media sphere, using Facebook and Twitter as major platforms for sponsor promotion. "Social media is very powerful; you can reach an unlimited number of consumers at little to no cost. It [social media] is exciting and is now part of everyday life for most," Wheeler said.
Bryan Alders, an American who previously rode for Monavie-Cannondale, is leading the Professional Team along with British racer Chris Baddick of North Devon, United Kingdom. Baddick resides in Boulder.
"Chris brings major talent to the professional side of the team, and our goal is to continue to help develop both Chris and Bryan into world class racers," said Wheeler.
Jordan Williford and Sonya Bugbee round out the professional team: Williford is a former Colorado State Champion, and Bugbee won the overall series title in the Mountain States Cup.
Members from the Elite Team racked up 44 podiums and countless top 10 finishes during the 2010 season on their respective teams.
In 2011, the Epic Endurance Cycling will focus on cross country and endurance races including the Bailey Hundo, Breck Epic, Park City Point to Point, BC Bike Race, Leadville 100, US Pro XCT series and the Mountain States Cup
2011 Epic Endurance Cycling Team
Bryan Alders, Boulder, Colorado
Chris Baddick, Devon, United Kingdom
Sonya Bugbee, Lakewood, Colorado
Jordan Williford, Boulder, Colorado
Mike Berg, Lakewood, Colorado
Kelly Feagans, Erie, Colorado
Les Handy, Aurora, Colorado
Jeff Higham, Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Brandon Newcomer, Westminster, Colorado
Sarka Ruzickova, Winter Park, Colorado
Brian Sells, Castle Rock, Colorado
Anthony Thornton, Superior, Colorado
Ben Welnak, Littleton, Colorado
Bill Wheeler, Boulder, Colorado
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