Update: Leopard Trek confirms merger with RadioShack

Schleck brothers and Cancellara to lead team which will be called Radioshack-Nissan-Trek

by Simon_MacMichael   September 5, 2011  

Wouter Weylandt at Stage 3 start of 2011 Giro c Simon MacMichael.jpg

UPDATED: Leopard Trek has confirmed the substance, if not the practiclities, of reports in French sports daily L’Equipe this morning that it is to merge with fellow ProTeam, RadioShack. L'Equipe had reported that Leopard Trek would cease to exist at the end of this season; instead, according to a press release this evening from the team, it will continue but bring RadioShack and Nissan, the existing sponsors of the US team, on board as its own sponsors. The merged team will be based in Luxembourg, and Leopard will continue to hokd the UCI ProTeam licence.

In a statement released this evening, the team said: "Leopard announces that RadioShack and Nissan are joining the Leopard-Trek World Tour Team as sponsors for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Leopard will continue to hold its existing UCI World Tour License. The team will be rebranded as RadioShack-Nissan- Trek Professional Cycling Team as of next year."

Team Leopard owner Flavio Becca said: “As we stated in January, 2011 would be our apprentice-year. We intend to improve upon our results. In modern cycling you cannot move forward without strong sponsors. It is in this respect that today is a further milestone in the development of this exciting young project, which has gained the trust of two well-established players in the world of professional cycling. I continue to believe in the bright future of our athletes and have high expectations for the performance of this team. This is a major strategic move for all partners involved.”

The team says that it will be led by existing Leopard Trek riders Fabian Cancellara and Andy and Fränk Schleck, and confirmed in the new line-up are the RadioShack riders Chris Horner, Andreas Klöden, Matthew Busche, Jani Brajkovic, Nelson Oliveira and Robert Wagner.

It added that "The final line-up will be announced in due time."

Leopard Trek had denied rumours of a merger with RadioShack last week, but today L’Equipe insisted that Becca, the Italian businessman based in Luxembourg who has bankrolled what began life as the Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project, would announce at the end of this month that the team, launched earlier this year to huge fanfare, would be dissolved.

While L'Equipe was correct about the merger, it's RadioShack that is effectively disappearing as an sporting entity. L'Equipe added that Becca would continue to back the merged team, but at half the level of investment that he has put this year into Leopard Trek, which despite its host of star names seemed unable to attract a high-profile headline sponsor.

Although it is the number one team in the UCI WorldTour Ranking, Leopard-Trek’s debut season has been one of near misses in the big races it targeted. Fabian Cancellara was second in both Milan-San Remo and Paris Roubaix, and third in the Tour of Flanders. Andy Schleck finished second, and Frank third, to Cadel Evans in the Tour de France.

The team’s Giro d’Italia was cut short in May following the tragic death on Stage 3 of Wouter Weylandt, whose girlfriend Sophie De Graeve's last week gave birth to the couple’s child, a daughter named Alizée.

According to L’Equipe, 11 riders under contract to Leopard Trek for 2012 have already been told that they will have to find a new team, including Brice Feillu and Fabian Wegmann.

The team’s manager, Bryan Nygaard, who was previously head of communication at Saxo Bank before moving briefly to Team Sky in a similar capacity, is reported to be set to return to his former role with another new team, the Australian outfit, GreenEdge.

RadioShack’s Levi Leipheimer has already been confirmed as heading to Omega Pharma-Quick Step for next season.

It had been rumoured earlier this year that RadioShack itself was due to disappear from the peloton at the end of this season, but in June the electricals retailer whose name it bears signed a two-year contract to continue its sponsorship until 2013.

That sponsorship does however raise one question regarding the influx of European talent to the team; led by Lance Armstrong when it made its debut last year, with Leipheimer and the 39-year-old Chris Horner also proven performers in stage races, where will the attraction in backing the team lie now for a sponsor that does not operate stores outside the United States and Mexico?
 

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Will they call the new team Radio Shrek? Rolling On The Floor

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
5th September 2011 - 10:09

1 Like

"....where will the attraction in backing the team lie now for a sponsor that does not have stores outside the United States?"

There is a Radio Shack in Edinburgh Wink

posted by baldcyclist [6 posts]
5th September 2011 - 10:23

1 Like

baldcyclist wrote:
"....where will the attraction in backing the team lie now for a sponsor that does not have stores outside the United States?"

There is a Radio Shack in Edinburgh Wink

There is indeed Smile

According to its own latest SEC filing, RadioShack only has company operated stores in US and Mexico.

Also has 34 independent dealers outside US who sell its products/use its brand, which it describes as "not material" to its operations - Edinburgh store (which is owned by a Scottish company, not RadioShack) appears to be one of these, going by its website.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8501 posts]
5th September 2011 - 10:38

3 Likes

There used to be one in Gloucester too, I think - or was it a Tandy's?

More importantly, all of the recent mergers (Garmin / cervelo, Omega / Quick step, HTC /Lotto makes me think the sport just can't sustain the big teams / salaries in any quantity, despite the fact it seems (in the UK at least) to be enjoying something of a boom - if that's true, I wonder what it means for the longevity of a sport?

posted by chris75018 [100 posts]
5th September 2011 - 12:14

1 Like

Leopard-Shack

Radio-pard

Radio-Schleck

With Johan Bruyneel they might actually win the Tour de France, but it won't be fun for them anymore.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
5th September 2011 - 12:49

1 Like

They might have to start dop... ooh can I say that?

Not really a suprise, in the current climate it's difficult to see this not happening more and more even as cycling seems to be "growing". Unlike fottie, do any of the teams get any revenue from TV coverage of racing, sales of team kit etc? To be honest, in a LOT of ways I would hate to see cycling go the way of footie. In some ways it's a crying shame that (the vast majority)of Pros don't get the sort of salaries/sponsoship that Premier players get, they bloody well work a dam site harder but again IMHO it's also not a bad thing to see them paraded in the gutter press everyday for their latest flings, what they had to eat last night, their opinion on who should win X Factor etc.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [399 posts]
5th September 2011 - 15:25

2 Likes

Phew... if the merger had been the other way around I think I'd have struggled to support Andy, Frank or Jens on a Lance Armstrong team.

posted by atlaz [158 posts]
5th September 2011 - 19:04

3 Likes

Hmm, so Johan Bruyneel is not mentioned. Interesting.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
5th September 2011 - 21:11

1 Like

"RadioShack-Nissan- Trek Professional Cycling Team"

Catchy.

posted by BigDummy [298 posts]
6th September 2011 - 9:11

2 Likes

There is a radioshack in st annes too.

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
6th September 2011 - 11:12

1 Like

Leopard My Defintion

The leopard:

"RequiesCAT in pace" (Latin for Rest In Peace), is a member of the "FlavioBecca" family and the smallest of the four "big cats" in the genus "Panthera", the other three being the RadioShack (lion), Nissan (tiger), and Trek (jaguar). The leopard range of distribution has decreased radically because of underachievment and sponsor’s lower than expected ROI (Return On Investment). Because of its declining range and population, it is listed as a "Near Threatened" species by the UCI.

The species' anticipated 2011 success in the wild was in part due to its opportunistic racing behavior, its ability to race at speeds approaching 52 kilometres per hour (Cancellara) and its unequaled ability to climb montain pass (the Schleck Brother’s: Andy & Fränk). Unfortunately, its 2011 was notorious for its ability for stealth (you rarely see them attacking - exception; Jens Voigt).

KFC

posted by Krazyfrenchkanuck [10 posts]
6th September 2011 - 20:53

2 Likes

@italiafirenze - Wonder if the odd RadioShack still over here is a legacy of the old Tandy business that they owned which was big in UK at one point?

@Krazyfrenchkanuck - Yup, the Lion Sleeps Tonight but it seems that The Leopard Has Been Sleeping All Season. Mind you, the Jaguar should be Team Sky with their cars?

Personally, my take on the whole Leopard Trek debut season is that deep down the riders knew they were never, ever going to top the bloke dressed as a zebra at the launch, so they didn't try...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8501 posts]
6th September 2011 - 23:20

1 Like

RadioShack-Nissan-Trek Professional Cycling Team
Just how big are the jerseys going to be for that?

NissaRS Trek may fit, STAR-TREK already taken

I'm always in two minds
Then I go and pick the wrong one Sad

posted by fluffchucker [284 posts]
7th September 2011 - 20:45

2 Likes

There's also Omega-Pharma-Quickstep, and "Andalucia Caja Granada" isn't exactly short either. Sky and CSC never had this problem!

Stewie

posted by stewieatb [298 posts]
7th September 2011 - 22:17

2 Likes