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HTC-Highroad Hangs it Up; Most Successful Men's Pro Cycling Team Disbanding

timv's picture

According to ESPN, HTC-Highroad team owner Bob Stapleton has admitted defeat in his search for a title sponsor to replace phone-maker HTC and the men's team will cease operation at the end of this season. 

Owner Bob Stapleton said Thursday that the sport's chaotic economic structure, along with continuing fallout from the convoluted, still-unresolved doping case involving triple Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and the federal investigation of seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong and his past teams, helped doom the quest.

"I absolutely don't want to be in the position of blaming anyone or to suggest anything other than we didn't get it done, but there are some destabilizing factors in the sport, and there is a concentration of wealth in a handful of teams that is going to make this very challenging for many teams and the sport in general," Stapleton said.

As for the effect of the Contador and Armstrong storylines, Stapleton said, "I don't think there's been a single discussion with a potential sponsor where one or the other wasn't talked about at some length. It's been a factor in everyone's view of cycling that we've talked to in the last year."

 

Despite being the #1-ranked team in the world, with nearly 500 race wins between its men's and women's teams over the past five seasons, and a squeaky-clean anti-doping program, Stapleton's organization faced stiff competition in recruiting and retaining riders from heavily funded super-teams with vastly larger budgets. ESPN reports that many HTC riders had already announced plans to leave the team, and that up-and-coming American Tejay Van Garderen and Manx sprint giant Mark Cavendish are soon to reveal new deals elsewhere.

Comments

eebee's picture

Shame!

That's a shame the team was doing well but lost out to the big bucks. 

RSNBiker's picture

Between issues

Thanks timv, for keeping me up-to-date between issues of Bicycling magazine. I don't spent enough time reading about cycling elsewhere on the Web and turns out I don't need to. Roadskater.net will keep me up to date. Well-written article too. Nicely done.

I'm disappointed about the breakup.

 

roadskater's picture

Losing Highroad: Continuing on the Low Road

Well, it was clear that the HTC Higroad team had its name changes over the years, as sponsors came, then went. But they certainly had great and well known riders.

Radio Shack would've loved Highroad's publicity and results, I'd think.

Since Lance stood on the podium with Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, professing his undying admiration, followed by the other two being later known to have been dopers, I wondered why any company would attach to Lance.

But it is hard to see why Highroad would be unable to get sponsors. I can see how the team could lose riders, just like the small-market  Pittsburgh Pirates lose players to bigger teams every year, like the Atlanta Braves. And then the Braves, if they succeed, can't afford the world championship players, who then become New York Yankees. But seriously. Cyclists? We can't find enough sponsors in second tier companies who want publicity enough to get a team as good as Highroad, even if they're only going to be as good as the least worthy teams on the Tour de France? 

Surely there are companies who cherish a win at any cost attitude, who cultivate bad boy images, who want to reach a small but dedicated audience of buyers with disposable income. 

I wonder if there's something else at work to folding the team rather than having it continue with less money. 

The first thing I wonder is if there is some bad news affecting Highroad riders coming after the TdF regarding doping tests. If they have that testing program, it's hard to see how. 

The second thing I wonder is if the team has to be disbanded for something else to happen, contractually. I don't know what, but perhaps a new team for some of the principals or riders. 

Or maybe they want to create a team without those strict founding principles? Maybe riders were leaving to go to teams with relaxed testing standards and more luxurious accommodations. 

I don't know, but it's a loss. It is hard to understand why this team could not go on, even if they had to rename it District of Columbia Highroad, like Astana is named after the capital of Kazakhstan. The basques can have a team, but Highroad can't get any sponsors? It's hard to fathom. Sad. (Nothing against the basques in this context, as they have many good climbers and wear tangerine jerseys.) 

Well, cycling goes on. The Spanish Tourist Beef Council should have a team. Seems like that has some stuff you need in it, even if in very small quantities. 

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