Hincapie Sportswear announced this week that it will provide cycling apparel for the BMC Racing Team in 2010. George Hincapie signed a contract to finish out his professional career with the team last month, and giving his company the ability to make inroads into pro level cycling in Europe was an important part of the negotiations with the team.
"It's important for George to end his career riding with his own clothing brand and focus on our brand. We felt that his transition from the sporting world to the business world was very important," said co-owner Rich Hincapie.
The move marks the first time in the company's six year history that the reigning US road champion will be able to race in his own line of custom clothing.
The two Hincapie brothers started the company in 2003, but until now, contractual obligations with the clothing providers for George's teams such as US Postal, Discovery Channel and Columbia-HTC have restricted him from wearing his own clothing in competition, and even prevented the company from using his image in its marketing materials.
"It means he can give us as much feedback as possible while he is still racing in the gear. He trains in the products. As far as our development and future growth it was imperative that this was part of his move to BMC."
Hincapie Sportswear has provided clothing to several American teams and has made leaders jerseys for the Tour of Missouri and Tour de Georgia, but needed to get a foothold in the pro peloton in order to grow.
"There are smaller American based teams that use our kit but nothing in Europe at the moment. We sponsored Columbia's off bike kit this season and that gave us a good footing. "
During the recent Interbike trade show, Hincapie Sportswear marketing manager Steve Baker confirmed that the company would supply race clothing, casual wear, denim and the Hincapie sunblock "Skin Defense" for George's new BMC team.
"We are very excited about being able to tie George directly with our cycling apparel," said Baker. "In the past he's had restrictions on what he could be seen wearing. If we wanted to use him in a marketing campaign, he'd have to be in retail or casual clothing. In the days of Nike, we couldn't show him in cycling clothing at all because of his contractual obligations."
The move also opens up more possibilities for the company to use Hincapie in its marketing campaigns.
"We can show George in the actual Hincapie apparel, and show that it is pro apparel that is worthy of some of the best cyclists in the world.
"He's excited about it because he loves the clothing we make. He wears it when he can, trains in it sometimes - that's part of our development process, but it's also part of his training. Now he can wear Hincapie clothing at every moment during his cycling career."
Rich Hincapie said that the design for the 2010 BMC clothing was not yet complete. "The designs will probably be out in the next month. It'll be different; the colours are red black and white, but we'll go more red this year."
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's beat is anti-doping, UCI governance and data analysis.