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Longstanding rumours confirmed as Flavio Becca ends his WorldTour adventure; big-name signings on the way?

Trek Bicycle Corporation has confirmed that it has acquired the WorldTour licence currently held by Leopard SA, the management company of the Luxembourg-based RadioShack-Leopard team. The Wisconsin-based bicycle manufacturer will join rivals BMC and Cannondale in becoming name sponsor of its own top-flight professional team, starting from next season. The news confirms press reports from Luxembourg earlier this month.

In a press release, Trek said that it would be looking to keep a number of existing RadioShack-Leopard riders - it didn't name names, but it has been reported that the team will be built around Fabian Cancellara, winner of the Flanders-Roubaix double this season, the second time he has achieved that feat.

Luca Guercilena, recruited as general manager in the wake of the departure of Johann Bruyneel, is to continue in his current role.

Trek also said that it is in negotiations with "several marquee athletes" adding that it would announce new signings "soon" - under current rules, the earliest that can happen is 1 August.

We're thrilled to be able to reach this agreement with Leopard," commented Joe Vadeboncoeur, vice president of Trek.

"The team has established a great foundation of staff and athletes. Great Athletes Ride Trek is something we are incredibly passionate about and we are looking forward to everything the future holds with this new team.

"We will have the ability to create more and better marketing content.

"The riders' nationalities represent our major markets and become an army of ambassadors at events all over the world. 

"We can have better integration into new product development and the ability for hospitality and activation at events.”

RadioShack-Leopard was born through the merger ahead of the 2012 season of what had been the US-based RadioShack-Nissan team, initially set up around Lance Armstrong, and Luxembourg's Leopard-Trek, built around Andy and Frank Schleck as well as Fabian Cancellara.

While it has enjoyed some notable victories such as those Classics wins by Cancellara, it has had plenty of problems including a reported breakdown in relations last year between the Schleck brothers and team management, Andy's long recovery from injury, and Frank's ban after failing a doping control at last year's Tour de France.

Team owner Becca, who has also reportedly been the subject of financial investigations by authorities in Luxembourg, commented: "I am proud to hand over this project to the people at Trek Bicycle, who have been a very dependable and loyal partner over the past three years.

“When we started in the summer of 2010 [the team first raced in 2011] we had a blank canvas in our hands, a puzzle.

"Now, three seasons later, we have a team that has won some of the biggest races of cycling with Fabian Cancellara and put two Schleck brothers from Luxembourg together on the podium of the Tour de France.

"I am also especially pleased to have launched the professional career of a young talented rider like Bob Jungels and that the team has become a major player in professional cycling.

"I believe cycling has entered a new era, in which a bike manufacturer like Trek Bicycle takes on full ownership of a team. I have taken a lot of pleasure in running this project and I wish the team and all its members a bright future," he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

12 comments

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CraigS [129 posts] 3 years ago
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Makes a lot of sense having manufacturer teams like in motorsport. Particularly as their markets are a lot more global than a lot of the sponsors. Omega Pharma and Quik Step for example will have increased their exposure in the UK because of Mark Cavendish, but I doubt that exposure has turned into much cash for them.

I can't see Specialized in particular leaving it too long before following suit.

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RacePace [18 posts] 3 years ago
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Omega Pharma see the UK as an emerging market for them, they now advertise on UK TV

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othello [374 posts] 3 years ago
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I read somewhere recently that Sky reckon their exposure through the team is worth something like £500m in terms of marketing reach. Typical marketing rubbish of course (what the heck is reach), but interesting to see that a big brand are seeing the value of team sponsorship. For a relatively low investment (in the scheme of things for Sky's marketing dept) they get a lot of exposure.

Makes sense for the bike manufacturers to take on teams, though I wouldn't be surprised if Trek team up with a big brand.

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othello [374 posts] 3 years ago
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I wonder who they might be trying to sign. Who is on the market for 2014?

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lolol [194 posts] 3 years ago
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I would see it that if other sponsors are pulling out, the big bike companies almost have no choice but to step up; otherwise teams would just fold and their bikes wouldn't be in the peloton

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TrekBikesUK [128 posts] 3 years ago
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Keep in mind that we've been involved in team sponsorship for a very long time. In terms of being a title sponsor, it was much more visible on the mountain bike side. In any sponsorship venture, we work closely with the teams and athletes to make sure that they get everything they can out of their equipment.

One of the most significant aspects of this story is that the team will be Trek's, and now we'll get to make the decisions about how the team operates holistically, rather than just from an equipment perspective.

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Super Domestique [1605 posts] 3 years ago
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Expected but no bad thing. Well done Trek for putting your money where your mouth is.

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Colin Peyresourde [1723 posts] 3 years ago
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othello wrote:

I wonder who they might be trying to sign. Who is on the market for 2014?

Might there be a new Trek named after Wiggo's favourite climb....Trek Boxhill?

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atlaz [184 posts] 3 years ago
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Hopefully they hang onto Jungels no matter what. It'd be a shame to see a very promising career put in jeopardy. He seems like a Cancellara in the making.

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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The irony of marketing for cycling is that for most sponsors women are the key target. There's a limit to how much cycle kit can be flogged to middle-aged men and OP and Quick Step will be delighted by the increase in women viewers. Sky's involved because Murdoch junior loves cycling and Murdoch senior wants to bag the Grand Tours for Sky.

For all the bitching about the current pretty good coverage between ITV4 and Eurosport it'll be a depressing day if Sky get their way. One of the down sides of Cookson could be the leverage Sky would have with the UCI if he gets in.

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kitkat [359 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm interested to see how they build the team in respect to races. Will they try putting together a climbing train like Sky or mix it up a bit.

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm glad that 'Radioshack Leopard Trek Nissan Lovestring Pugh Pugh Barney McGrew Cuthbert Dibble Grub' are rebranding for next season.

Is the yellow band getting ditched from the jerseys then?