Trek and Segafredo: Behind the combination of bikes and coffee

Three-year sponsorship gives the team a bigger budget and a new direction

The Trek-Segafredo sponsorship seemed like a perfect marriage between two important global brands at the presentation in Treviso on Thursday.

The US-registered team and the global coffee company share the same red, white and black brand colours, and both Trek and Massimo Zanetti’s holding company - which owns Segafredo and several other coffee brands, each started as family businesses.

Trek started in a barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin, while Massimo Zanetti, now 67, took over the family-owned coffee roasting business in Treviso in the early 70s. Via a series of takeovers, tie-ups and franchises, the company has grown to become one of the biggest in the world, producing 92,000 tonnes of coffee a year, with a turnover of 1.3 billion Euro. 35 per cent of the company was recently floated on the Milan stock market in 2015, raising over 200 million Euro and valuing the company at close to 540 million Euro ($615 million).

Zanetti proudly announced the Segafredo cycling sponsorship during a meeting with global brand managers. Many are cyclists and welcomed the news, pushing to pose for selfies with Fabian Cancellara and the new jersey. Segafredo is the first major Italian company to sponsor a cycling team for several years, with many in Italian cycling hoping it will open the door to other new sponsors after years of crisis.

“I’ve been lucky in life. Now I hope to give some good luck to the Trek-Segafredo team,” Zanetti said during the presentation. “I’m a man of sport. My father taught us all to love sport and practiced a lot of sport. I live in the province of Treviso, where highest number of people in Italy ride bikes.”

Zanetti confirmed to Cyclingnews that the brand will remain a co-title sponsor with team owners Trek for the next three years, with an option for a further two years. The arrival of Segafredo will boost the team’s budget by between 30 and 40 per cent, and allow the signing of a Grand Tour team leader and perhaps a Classics contender to replace Fabian Cancellara. Both Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet could be available for 2017.

Zanetti opted to join forces with Trek rather than create a new team with Bjarne Riis.

“We were negotiating with Riis after he’d left Tinkoff, to create our own new team. But we didn’t want to be directly involved in the management of the team At the same time, we spoke to Luca Guercilena at Trek. We realised we had the best fit with Trek, and things went from there,” he revealed.

“I love cycling and ride at the weekends, but we’ve also got to think of the business aspects and the return on investment. I’m convinced that cycling gives a good return. Cycling is one of the most popular sports in the world and is followed by millions of fans, who will now hopefully drink our coffee.”

“Our project is to help the team grow as a global team and sign some of the biggest riders in the peloton. It’s true that we’d like to sign Nibali. Let's hope so. It’d be a dream come true for me.”

Long term backing, a bigger budget and possibly a new direction

Zanetti and the Vice President of Trek Bicycles Joe Vadeboncoeur completed the deal to form Trek-Segafredo with a handshake. While Trek has given up being the sole title sponsor of the team, it has gained some long-term backing and secured a bigger budget.

“Segafredo’s sponsorship doesn’t double the budget, but it’s significant. More than the investment, it’s the duration that is important," Vadeboncoeur told Cyclingnews. "They’re in for the long term, which allows us to target the team in different directions. Fabian Cancellara’s contract ends in 2016 and so after that, we have the option to point in a different direction if we choose to. If we want to chase Grand Tours after 2016 now were able to do that.”

Vadeboncoeur is not afraid to admit that Nibali is on their list of riders for 2017.

“He’s a huge talent, a great rider and has a lot of years left in his career. He’s Italian, and so Segafredo would like it. We would like it, and Luca has a good relationship with him,” he said. “At the moment, we don’t know if he’s going separate from his current team after 2016, but I think it would be fun to build a squad around him.”

Zanetti is expecting some important results in 2016 before the team is somehow rebuilt and redirected after Cancellara’s career ends. Cancellara won the 1999 Junior world time trial title in Treviso and raced with the Fassa Bortolo team that is based nearby. Zanetti is hoping Cancellara can complete his career and kick off Segafredo’s sponsorship in style by winning Milan-San Remo and then pulling on the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia.

“He’s promised me he’d bring the pink jersey back to Italy after the opening stages of the Giro d’Italia in the Netherlands. Let’s hope he keeps his word,” Zanetti said.

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