After much delay, Momentum Sports Group (MSG) officially announced that UnitedHealthcare will take over the title sponsorship of the US-based Continental team formerly known as OUCH presented by Maxxis, in 2010.
The newly named United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis will once again challenge the National Racing Calendar (NRC) along with various International Cycling Union sanction events across the USA, totaling 91 races.
"We are really stoked because it's a good company with a good atmosphere and they are very involved with a balanced and healthy lifestyle, not just cycling," MSG President and Director of Sponsorship Thierry Attias told Cyclingnews. "We can't talk about the length of our contract with them but, they have along term view of this relationships."
Last month, Floyd Landis and MSG announced the early termination of rider-contract agreement releasing Landis from the OUCH presented by Maxxis team before the end of the 2009 season. Landis was responsible for bringing 2009 title sponsor OUCH on board to void a financial hole left by previous long-term sponsors Health Net.
OUCH Sports Medical Centre did not renew a contract for the 2010 season. Attias praised the company for its one year title role but was forced to turn to several other companies that expressed interest in supporting the team in 2010.
"We are always talking with lots of potential title sponsors by courting them and each one has a different set of needs," Attias said. "It's always a race to the line. I believe OUCH would have been there to help us out, maybe not a title sponsor but the idea with OUCH was always a one year relationships."
"They were great to us, helped us out and did a great job," he continued. "UnitedHealthcare stepped up and went with it and we knew that the long term success of the organization needed to move to get a corporate sponsor that could sustain a five to ten year vision."
According to Attias, MSG finalised an agreement with UnitedHealthcare during Interbike held in Las Vegas in mid-September. Announcements regarding the new sponsorship was stalled to allow time for finalizing details. UnitedHealthcare played a tertiary role supporting the team the previous year and liked the idea of taking over as title sponsor.
"They provided health insurance for the athletes last year," Attias said. "So that transition was smooth. I think they saw a lot of value and liked the demographics of the cycling market. Cycling was the perfect venue for that healthy, outdoor, good eating lifestyle and so their message fit perfectly."
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis will announce a 15-man roster and full list of sponsors shortly.
"Our roster is forth coming with great talents and top notch staff," Attias said. "We have many of our existing riders coming back. We are committed to improving the infrastructure of the organisation with quality riders and new vehicles, and RV, cars, a 15 passenger van and trailer. We want to give all the athletes the best tools we can."
The squad doubled its staff headed by team manager and directeur Mike Tamayo alongside former MSG cyclist Gord Fraser. According to Attias, Tamayo will continue to oversee all logistics and managerial duties and Fraser will focus on running races and athletes while on the road.
This year, UnitedHealth Group was ranked 21st on the Fortune 500 list, an annual ranking of America's largest corporations. It serves as the largest health care provider in the United States of America along with 34 countries world-wide. It has a mission to help provide people with healthier lives.
"We're very excited to partner with a forward-thinking health care company like UnitedHealthcare," Attias said in a press release. "With the company's focus on helping people live healthier lives, UnitedHealthcare's work with our cycling team is an excellent partnership to help further that mission. We hope that our riders, through their examples of healthy living and fitness, encourage fans and UnitedHealthcare customers to live healthier lives."
Kirsten Frattini has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level all the way to the World Cup. She is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. Kirsten has worked in both print and digital publishing. She started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006, and was responsible for reporting from the US and Canadian racing scene. Now as a Production Editor, she produces international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits global news and writes features.
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