New team with new sponsor twist
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Many a whisper (and even a low rumble) has been circulating around the U.S. racing scene for a couple of months now about a new pro team entering the fray. And while rumours have been a plenty, Cyclingnews was able to talk with the people in charge to get the story straight. Leading the charge in this new venture, called United Pro Cycling, are two veteran racers, Frankie Andreu of U.S. Postal fame, and former Saturn pro Harm Jansen. Working the logistics behind them are longtime cyclist Sean Tucker and veteran marketing professional Mark Dyce.
While a presenting sponsor is still in the final stages, this group has already rallied an impressive team with the help of signing bonuses. "We have cyclists signed to contracts with the help of investors behind the deal," said Dyce. These cyclists include current USPRO road champion Chris Wherry and his very quick Health Net teammate Ivan Dominguez, equally quick Argentinean sprinter Juan Jose Haedo from Colavita-Sutter Home, multiple U.S. national time trial champion Chris Baldwin from Navigators Insurance and Tony Cruz from Discovery Channel.
The biggest difference behind this team is that it will not be a traditional sponsor-team business model. What Tucker and Dyce are proposing is a team organization that is more independent from the sponsor, enabling the organization to cross-apply their marketing efforts within their presenting sponsors. "Most teams in the history of cycling has been Team something... and as long as you have your sponsor, you are ok," Dyce explained. "But as soon as you lose that sponsor, you lose everything. And the thing Sean is trying to do is to create a franchise around the cream of the crop - that's why we signed riders like Chris Baldwin, Chris Wherry and Tony Cruz.
"This is really different than anything that has been done before," Dyce continued. "The value we believe is significant with this new model, so we've been strategic about who we even talk to. So it is going to be United Pro Cycling presented by..."
The presenting sponsor will become known shortly. However, Dyce was able to share that significant steps have been made in regards to the team name, which was a little too close to the USPRO brand for some. "USA Cycling has approved the name of the team, United Pro Cycling, as well as the UCI," said Dyce. "The uniform has also been approved."