Skil-Shimano will ride on Felt frames in 2012 after a reaching a three-year deal with the American bicycle firm. Felt had previously supplied frames to Garmin but their partnership with Skil sees them returning to the professional road ranks after a year away.
“We’d had our feelers out for the last year or so on opportunities and we talked to a bunch of teams but for us it was important that we ended up with a programme that we felt would give us the mechanisms we needed and in turn we’d provide them with the things they needed. Skil just had all the elements and it really added up for us,” Felt’s director of marketing, Doug Martin, told Cyclingnews.
“We were with Garmin for four years and that ran its course but when that ended we actually had other opportunities that year but there wasn’t that programme out there that really fit. So we were willing to be patient and we sat out last year. The Skil team has all the right elements.”
The team will start out on Felt’s F1 series and although the team will only make their debut on Felt frames in January, the hard work has already begun. A new set of frames need to be fitted and perfected over the coming months with riders having their first team camp in early December.
According to Martin, Felt provided a natural fit in terms of shared vision, while a need for a US-based team was never a top priority.
“When we went looking for fit I think it wasn’t about nationality and more about vision and culture. Where was the team that had the same vision as us? For us it didn’t matter if it was Dutch, German, American or Canadian. It was about who wanted to go where we wanted to go. They’re balanced with a multi-national team.
“They’re a bit like the Garmin team we started out with. They have the vision, they have the talent and they’re not where they want to be yet because they have aspirations to be at the WorldTour. They’ve got a nice blend of athletes and a tuned in staff. To Felt, that’s the recipe for success.”
That blend of athletes includes the likes of Mitchell Docker, Alexandre Geniez and rising stars Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb. One rider the team missed out on in the transfer window was Tony Martin, who moved from HTC-Highroad to Quick Step. Time trial development had been a priority for the German as he sought out a team for 2012. Doug Martin believes that Felt could have offered the required support but stressed that Skil’s ranks has more than enough talent.
“We knew that Skil were talking to Tony. We also knew that the bike itself was a consideration for Tony but in the end it didn’t work out. That’s really the team’s business but it’s still a fantastic team with some great talents who are still developing.”