Floyd Landis has said that a major factor behind his decision to back a new gravel and mountain bike team in 2022 came down to the decision of David 'Tinker' Juarez’s long-term sponsor to end its support of him. The Floyd’s of Leadville Racing team was announced on Tuesday and will feature Juarez alongside four other competitors - Taylor Lideen, Anne Donley, Victor Cashes, and Geneviève Jeanson.
The 60-year-old American is one of the country’s best-ever BMX and MTB riders, taking the gold medal at the 1995 Pan-Am Games, three NORBA national cross-country championship titles, five NORBA national 24-hour titles plus three UCI Master’s World Championships. He was backed by Cannondale since 1994, but in a social media post in October said that the brand had unexpectedly ended its long association with him. He has subsequently deleted the post, which read:
“Hi everyone, if you haven't heard or not Cannondale is dropping me because they don't have the budget to keep me on. $25,000 isn't a lot for a cyclist who race almost 50 years and I don't have time to write everything I've done, but I could guarantee I sold more bikes than anyone racing for Cannondale. I gave my life to promote Cannondale and I believe I race as much as your top XC racer and more, so how can you just drop the best Ambassador in the sport.”
Cannondale issued a statement stating, “there is no rider more inspirational and aspirational from the early days of mountain bike racing than Tinker Juarez.” The company said that it had supported him for 27 years and said it was thankful and appreciative of their time together.
“To better align with his goals in the coming years, Tinker has decided to seek a different level of support than what Cannondale is offering, from another bike partner. We will forever be one of his biggest fans and grateful for the contributions Tinker has given to Cannondale, the sport of mountain biking and the broader cycling community.”
According to Landis, the end of that relationship was a fundamental element in setting up the new Floyd’s of Leadville Racing squad, which was announced on Tuesday.
“That was mostly what instigated the idea of doing a team,” he told Cyclingnews. “I know Tinker doesn’t really do gravel…I mean, he has done a few [races] here and there, but he’s a mountain biker, and has been since before I was mountain biking.
“I read some comments he had made about how sad he was that his sponsor was no longer supporting him. I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to reach out to Tinker.’ I’ve known him for, I don’t know, since probably like 1993 or so. And I will say that he’s among the nicest, most genuine people you’ll ever hope to meet, and that he treats everybody with that same genuine interest when he meets them. You couldn’t find a better ambassador for a brand or the sport itself.”
Landis had previously backed the former Silber Pro Racing team, funding it for the 2019 road season using the money he received as a whistleblower in the US Government’s case against former teammate Lance Armstrong. That backing as a Continental programme ended after a year, but the situation with Juarez led to Landis deciding to support another team.
“I couldn’t believe that the opportunity would even exist that I couldn’t be a sponsor for him,” Landis said. “I think Cannondale are a corporation that goes through changes to their marketing or who knows what, from time to time, and so for whatever reason, it didn’t make sense [to continue]. It certainly makes sense to me to align ourselves with somebody like him. He is a stand out human being.”
The team’s provisional calendar for Juarez shows a busy schedule of racing, with 20 separate events that span all 12 months. Some of these are multi-day competitions, including races in Europe. Landis said that Juarez will lean towards mountain bike events.
“I think he’ll do some gravel here and there. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he prefers mountain biking, because that’s kind of his forte, what he’s always been good at. And gravel is kind of a new thing where it’s a slightly different set of skills, but not that different. I mean, obviously he’s got the skill set to do it.
“As far as Tinker is concerned, my support for him is such that I’ll let him do what races he wants to do. He loves racing his bike, he’ll go every weekend if there’s a race to do. And he’s a big star in cycling. Anyone that’s been involved in mountain biking knows who Tinker is. He’s the kind of guy that’ll stay around after the race and talk to people and just genuinely, you know, interact with people.
“And so I’m going to let him do what he wants to do, because I know that he’s good at it and doesn’t really need any kind of guidance there.”
Tinker Juarez’s provisional 2022 racing schedule:
- 8 Hours of Temecula, January 29
- Bianchi Rock Cobbler in Bakersfield, Feb 12
- Baja Epic #1 in Ensenada, Feb 26
- True Grit Epic Santa Clara, March 12
- Sea Otter Classic, April 7-10
- UCI World MTB Championships in Argentina, April 18-20
- Gigante de Piedra Endurance in Spain, April 29-May 9
- Big Bear Endurance #5, May 21
- Gravel Battle North Dakota, May 28-29
- Unbound Gravel, June 4
- Big Bear Endurance #6, June 18-19
- Maad Daah Hey in North Dakota, August 6
- Mammoth Point-to-Point, August 28
- Portugal MTB Stage Race, August 27-September 7
- Big Bear Grizzly 100k, Sept 24-25
- Marji Gesick 100mi, September
- Red Granite Ironbull, Oct 15
- Belgian Waffle Ride #4 in Kansas, Oct 16
- Big Sugar Gravel, Oct 22
- Afgravelstan 1.0, December 9-11
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