By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
After a lot of speculation, the replacement for Health Net as title sponsor of the four-time top NRC men's team is now official – OUCH Sports Medical Center, based in Temecula, California, will take over the sponsorship of the team run my Momentum Sports Group, to be officially named OUCH presented by Maxxis. As well, it is confirmed that Floyd Landis will join the team following the end of his suspension in January of 2009.
Dr. Brent W. Kay, MD, co-founder and executive director of OUCH Sports Medical Center, is the impetus behind the sponsorship. Dr. Kay is Landis' long-time personal physician, and testified at his USADA arbitration hearing. He is also the doctor who oversaw his hip resurfacing surgeries.
"We are very excited to showcase Floyd's Smith & Nephew hip, to play on the bionic man theme with his return," Dr. Kay told Cyclingnews. "We think it is going to set a precedent about what these joints can do."
As for how the sponsorship came about, as well as combining it with the plan for Landis' return, Dr. Kay said that the pieces just fell into place. "I knew that Health Net was not going to be sponsoring any more, and the opportunity just presented itself, so I jumped on it. I am really excited because I want to help Floyd return and also it is going to help get out message out. We are going to do some seminars next year about joint replacement, not just to the athlete community but also to the general public. "
Dr. Kay is himself an accomplished track cyclist, who attempted to break the world hour record for ages 40-44 in 2006. "I started cycling at age 40; I had done triathlons for twenty years before that, but because of severe arthritis in my shoulder I got into cycling. Shortly after that I met Floyd on a ride near my home."
OUCH is not new to cycling sponsorship, as it was the sponsor of American track star Sarah Hammer for her 2006-2007 season. It also supported the American Women's Track Cycling Fund. Dr. Kay said that currently the plans for a track team are still to be determined.