OUCH Sports Medical Center of Temecula, California, will take over title sponsorship of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis for the 2009 season. The team will be known as OUCH presented by Maxxis next year.
The squad had been sponsored by HealthNet since 2003. Brent Kay, the OUCH's co-founder, noted that the clinic chose to sponsor the team for several reasons, including to support one of the clinic's most prominent patients, Floyd Landis.
"We're very excited to be sponsoring the team in 2009," Kay said. "In part we want to use the sponsorship to help support Floyd's comeback from hip resurfacing surgery. I've been with Floyd as his physician since the crash in January 2003 that led to his needing the surgery. The clinic has helped with his rehabilitation and return to professional cycling. Part of me lives in that hip, I guess."
Landis chose to have surgery on his hip in the off-season following the 2006 Tour de France. He won the Tour that year, but his title was taken away following a postive test for testosterone.
Kay also said that there is a bigger, broader reason for sponsoring the team. "My partner, Jerry Hizon, and I would like to use the team as a platform to launch an educational branch of the Center to get more information out to athletes and the general public about osteoarthritis," he said.
He noted that part of the reason Landis required his surgery was that he developed osteoarthritis in his broken hip. "Osteoarthritis is a remarkably common ailment," Kay said, adding that recent studies have determined that up to half of the population may have knee abnormalities associated with osteoarthritis, though they might not display symptoms. The Arthritis Foundation noted that 27 million Americans live with osteoarthritis.
"We really want to get the message out about osteoarthritis, and how to treat and live with it," Kay said. He added that the Center will be hosting conferences and distributing information about the ailment through the Center's website, www.ouchmedicalcenter.com. "Osteoarthritis is a normal process as we age," he added. "There are a lot of ways to live with it and treat it."
As a southern California-based Center, the Amgen Tour of California will be a big event for the team and the Center, Kay said. "It will be Floyd's first race back in the professional peloton. He's been doing great and his hip has performed really well. In some respects, he's doing even better than before because his arthritic hip was a disaster, in 2005 in particular. So we're really looking forward to seeing the Bionic Man back out there racing, and demonstrating that you can effectively treat and live with osteoarthritis."
Thierry Attias, President of Momentum Sports Group, which operates the team, welcomed the addition of OUCH as the team's title sponsor. "It's good to have another healthcare-related organisation as the team's top sponsor," Attias said. "OUCH will carry on with what Health Net started, promoting healthy lifestyles through the sport and activity of cycling. The team intends to do everything we can to help OUCH educate the public about osteoarthritis, its treatment and how including cycling can help manage the effects of the disease."