How many sponsors are still in the wings?

August 14, 2006

There seems to be a perfect storm brewing out there. First the ProTour creates a situation where sponsors are now required to pay a minimum of $10 million (US) a year to become title sponsor of a team. This is due to the requirements that all ProTour teams ride at all ProTour events. That means more riders/team and higher travel and logistics costs.

At $10 million with a minimum 3 year commitment, not many companies can afford that price tag. Now with Operation Puerto and Floyd Landis taking headlines away from race results and exposure opportunities, more sponsors are calling it quits.

You may even add to the list the departure of Lance Armstrong. Lance was able to deliver many Americans to the TV during the tour. A look at this year’s ratings show a big drop off from last year.

Are we seeing the beginning of a dark period for our beloved sport?

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iShares drops out. Is Phonak doomed?

August 14, 2006

Interesting. I was reading my latest Velonews on the plane last night. In it, there is an interview with iShares CEO Lee Kranefuss. Lee says that doping scandals, including Tyler Hamilton’s suspension, is not a deal breaker. Lee goes on to say that people move on quickly from doping scandals looking towards the next race, the next Tour de France.

It seems that Lee was not talking about iShares. It looks as though iShares has dropped its commitment to pick up title sponsorship from Phonak. iShares reportedly is looking for another sport, like golf, to reach its clients. Cyclingnews is reporting that Phonak is in critical condition after losing iShares.

After iShares withdrew, Rihs worked feverishly to find a new sponsor in order to save the jobs of the riders and other employees of the ARcycling AG, but without success. Rihs has scheduled a press conference next Tuesday morning to make a formal announcement on Phonak’s future.

Phonak has survived many hits, this one may be the knockout blow.

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It seems as a sponsor, Phonak has moved on and is seeing someone else now. Do America’s Cup sailors dope?

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