Bob Stapleton confirms HTC Highroad to be wound up after sponsor search fails to bear fruit

All riders released from contracts as cycling's most successful team of recent years folds

by Simon_MacMichael   August 4, 2011  

Mark Cavendish wins green on the Champs Elysees copyright PhotoSport International.jpg

Professional cycling's most successful team of recent years, HTC -Highroad, is to fold at the end of this season after failing to find a replacement sponsor for Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC. All riders have been released from their contracts so they can find other teams, and the future of those like Mark Cavendish whose current contracts expire at the end of the season, is now certain to lie elsewhere.

In a press release issued this evening, team owner Bob Stapleton, the telecommunications entrepreneur who bought what had been the T-Mobile team in 2007, said: "After an exhaustive search to secure long term sponsorship we have concluded that it's time to release our team members to pursue other options. Our team's success has been based on our outstanding people. It's in their best interest that we make this decision now."
 
"The team has had unmatched athletic success," he continued. "The dedication shown by our athletes, management team and staff year after year has been exceptional. Together they created one of the most successful teams in cycling's history. Our athletes are the most sought after in the sport, and our management and staff are the most capable in cycling. They will lead new teams and the sport forward. Helping to create the individual success of the people in our team has been the most important and enjoyable element of our management team. We wish everyone the best for the future."
 
"Finally, we would like to thank our partners who worked very closely with us over the years to help set Highroad as the benchmark for elite cycling teams," added Stapleton. "We are very proud of the performance and value we gave our sponsors and our fans."
 
HTC-Highroad will continue to race through to the end of the season and is hoping to have achieved its 500th win by then - it currently stands at 484, including 54 Grand Tour stages, more than half of the latter achieved by Mark Cavendish.

The British rider revealed earlier this week that he had decided where he would be racing in 2012, and did not rule out staying put. Had it been his intention to remain with HTC-Highroad, that door is now closed to him.

The demise of the team will been keenly felt on the women's side of the sport, where it was one of the biggest names in the peloton.

 

23 user comments

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Real shame. Can't say they were my favourite team, but they were the most consistent, impressive and, when it counted, devastatingly effective team. Cav for Sky then?

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [203 posts]
4th August 2011 - 19:33

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I find this truly staggering. A team with almost 500 wins can't find a sponsor?! Surely the other big teams must be concerned what happens when their sponsor deals expire? This is ominous for the sport.

posted by smernicki [30 posts]
4th August 2011 - 19:59

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It does seem bizarre they couldn't find sponsorship, being the winningest team and all. Were they asking for too much money?

rrrrrrrrr.

posted by kaptnkrunch [57 posts]
4th August 2011 - 20:15

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I guess it is a sign of the times with all that is going on the world at the moment. Such a shame

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

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posted by road slapper [92 posts]
4th August 2011 - 20:20

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Amazing. A shame too.

Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades. (Merckx)

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posted by obutterwick [528 posts]
4th August 2011 - 20:37

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Perhaps not so much that Mr Stapleton couldn't find a sponsor but that he couldn't find one that would enable him to balance the books. It would surely be hard to run the team on a relatively half-arsed basis after having been on top of the world. At least going out this way means he leaves with his dignity intact and ready to fight another year. We'll never really know whether Cav et al would have left, anyway. In a way, it's better that the cards are thrown up in the air. After all, Cav has a couple of quite important races coming up where he MUST do without Mark Renshaw and Tony Martin unless they would be prepared to drive the train for team GB. I think not.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
4th August 2011 - 20:48

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Sure the economics aren't great at present, but the selfish DOPERS must be held equally responsible? Angry

It doesn't get easier, you just go faster.....maybe

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posted by pward [88 posts]
4th August 2011 - 21:38

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By all accounts, HTC's investment was a 'mere' $10M per year. Even in the current climate, one would have thought some tech company could be persuaded to pony up a few quid, with or without Cav. Especially given the frankly obscene amounts lavished on failing F1 teams. Further proof that our sport is a minority pursuit.

posted by Yennings [211 posts]
4th August 2011 - 22:16

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Maybe a catch 22. No sponsorship without a guaranteed, contracted Cav and he wasn't coming on board unless the team had a guaranteed, contracted sponsor? Confused

Shut up legs

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posted by slow-cyclo [74 posts]
5th August 2011 - 1:18

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Well, I wonder what Cavendish would look like in SKY kit, probably not as good as BMC

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
5th August 2011 - 9:36

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Let's hope Cav wasn't put in a position like Tommy V was in getting Europcar off the ground.

That's a lot of pressure.

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posted by jimmythecuckoo [1245 posts]
5th August 2011 - 9:37

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Agree with the comments above that (a) it is a shame for cycling to see one of the major teams fold but (b) it was probably on the basis that no sponsor would stump up enough to hold the current roster of riders (or similar). At least this way everyone gets to leave with their head held high, I suppose.

Personally, while I'm keen to see Cav in a good team, I'll be more interested to see where Martin ends up (since I'd be very surprised if Cav doesnt end up at Sky anyway). Martin's a super talent, and could win more races if he wasn't focussing his efforts on supporting another leader.

posted by step-hent [675 posts]
5th August 2011 - 9:47

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step-hent wrote:
Personally, while I'm keen to see Cav in a good team, I'll be more interested to see where Martin ends up (since I'd be very surprised if Cav doesnt end up at Sky anyway). Martin's a super talent, and could win more races if he wasn't focussing his efforts on supporting another leader.

Agreed. You could also extend that analysis to half the HTC team: Renshaw, Eisel, Bak, Grabsch, Goss, Pate, Van Garderen. There's a wealth of really good young talent on that squad. Given that the squad was assembled with the sole purpose of getting Cav into winning positions, the team's folding might not be such a bad thing in the long run. At least it may free these riders from their supporting roles and allow them the freedom to become winners in their own right. God knows they're capable and deserving enough.

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [203 posts]
5th August 2011 - 11:33

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As far as Sky goes, I hate the link to Murdoch, and now hate BSkyB even more thanks to their ruination of free to air F1.
I do like the Sky team despite that. I do not neccesarily think that it is the best place for Cavendish tho'. His problem is that I see no space in any of the top teams for Cavendish to take a couple of leadout men with him.
I am truly gutted about the loss of HTC, as they are an exciting team that goes way beyond the Cavendish train. The Velits brothers and gretsch have already secured contracts. I guess after Cervelo last year it should be no real surprise, that a huge team will go down. Who's next, we now have the Omega Pharma Quickstep team too. Well that should leave a space for Geox in all the big races.
When you add all this up the sport is once again in crisis.

posted by thefatcyclist [584 posts]
5th August 2011 - 12:58

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Looks like 3 spaces just opened up at Garmvelo with Bobridge and both Meyers away to Greenedge. We know how much Garmin like their TT boys so wouldn't be surprised to see 1 or more HTC riders going there!

Sq

Squiggle's picture

posted by Squiggle [414 posts]
5th August 2011 - 13:25

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Have Garmin Cervelo got the money for Martin? Maybe The Shack would go for him but aren't they quitting this year too?

posted by 1961BikiE [80 posts]
5th August 2011 - 13:34

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RadioShack have already renewed for another two years.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8033 posts]
5th August 2011 - 14:17

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As much as it's a shame to loose teams, especially of the calibre of HTC, there will be others that will appear and prosper in their own right - Greenedge and Geox come to mind.

Whatever happens no doubt the riders will try their best to shine in their new teams.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2712 posts]
5th August 2011 - 14:44

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I was toying with the idea of an HTC mobile phone next week. Maybe I'll get the Samsung instead. Thinking

posted by fnar98 [9 posts]
5th August 2011 - 17:45

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Glad the article made mention of the loss of a high profile women's team, albeit if only two lines...one step forward one step back.

emily.b

posted by emily.b [15 posts]
5th August 2011 - 19:46

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Have they tried REDBULL? They have their fingers in almost every pie in sport and dont just sponsor, they own every team with their brand on it. TEAM REDBULL?

Tommy

posted by highto [14 posts]
5th August 2011 - 23:59

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This brings to mind when Honda pulled out of F1, it's quite a shock. They'd look odd in Honda jerseys? wouldn't they ? would they? dunno? next year... Honda maybe????? or even a premiership club sponsorship? Surprise arrrghhhh......

tommy2p

posted by tommy2p [84 posts]
6th August 2011 - 2:11

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emily.b wrote:
Glad the article made mention of the loss of a high profile women's team, albeit if only two lines...one step forward one step back.

Yep, everyone just thinks about how this affects Cav, Renshaw, Martin and Eisel. Sad that the whole team 'can't' find a sponsor. On the subject of Cav going to Sky. Wiggens only lasted a season on HTC because he wanted to be his own man and not constantly working for Cav. Without Renshaw and Eisel is Cav going to be as affective as he has been?

The team has a green Jersey winner at the tour de France and several stage wins, is Bob not telling us something? Surely a sponsor would come on board even if they did have to meet higher riders costs.

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

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posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
6th August 2011 - 18:40

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