What’s going on at Cervélo?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

It started after the Tour de France when Brett Lancaster said on Twitter that he was house-hunting in Girona. The lead out specialist seemed suited to life in Italy, having been in Tuscany for a long time and riding for Italian squads in the past. Why up sticks to Spain when you don’t speak the lingo? I wondered if he’d inked a deal with Garmin-Transitions because most of their riders are based in Catalonia. Since then it seems the Cervélo Test Team was dragging over contract renewals, the two year deals signed for 2009 and 2010 were coming to an end. Then Carlos Sastre was pushed/jumped to the new GEOX team.

Now the rumour mill’s in a frenzy. Like a virus, we can watch how the rumour was propagated. It started in Norway. I got wind of it by midday, Euro-time. Some say several Cervélo riders will join the Garmin team. But there’s no news about the other riders, worrying because I don’t want to see a few riders cherry-picked whilst the others are left behind. Worse, Belgian TV commentator Laurent Bruwier reckoned yesterday that the team was going to vanish at the end of the season. And now there’s more talk of Hushovd moving.

The Latest
As of this morning, the latest version is that the men’s team is too expensive to keep on the road and the team will fold, leaving only the women’s team in place. Some riders will apparently move to Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo will supply bikes to the US team.

Over 20 riders suddenly find themselves dumped on the transfer market, not to mention the support staff. Although fortunately several new teams are still recruiting.

Out of control?
As well as rumours, this is also a tale of bungled PR. If this story has had its roots since July or even before then there’s no reason for the rumour mill to spin in the vacuum. Now that all sorts of stories are out, a holding statement from Cervélo needs to be put out. They’ve had weeks to draft this.

It’s not for teams to comment on every transfer rumour but when the very survival of a team is at stake then you need to communicate. Especially since your brand is involved: giving a lot of riders the shaft would not be great for Cervélo’s reputation as an innovative and friendly company.

A Test That Didn’t Work
One final thought: if all this is true then for me it is sad news for a particular reason: this was a sponsorship deal funded by the cycle industry. It made the team unique.

They’ve also tried new ways, for example hiring Joop Alberda, an outsider to the sport, but with plenty of professional sports management experience. It’s been an outward looking team with great communications, the riders have usually been some of the most approachable in the bunch. It’s been an adventure and many fans will find it a pity to see this end.

Anonymous August 26, 2010 at 8:53 am

Bummer, I like the team. Some good guys on there being messed around.

Anonymous August 26, 2010 at 9:03 am

There has never been a story about Hushovd retiring. I'm from Norway, and the story you linked from procycling.no states no such thing.

TheInnerRing August 26, 2010 at 9:10 am

Thanks second anon for pointing this out.

It was google translate that seems to have made "avgang" go from "departure" to "retirement" when the whole page is translated from Norwegian to English.

I've edited the piece above to correct this.

reg August 26, 2010 at 9:50 am

Just the fact that Cervelo had deep enough pockets to financially support a team at this level surprised me. They don't sell that many bicycles. Govt subsidies?

Alex August 26, 2010 at 10:01 am

I've really enjoyed watching Cervelo. It will be a shame if it's true.

In many ways it was the fact that they were struggling against the tide that made them so fun to watch.

But of course, the whole point is that it's easier to go with the tide, so it's not totally surprising that they are in trouble (if true).

Garmin would be a fitting team for some of them to go to.

Good luck to everyone involved.

Damien August 26, 2010 at 10:16 am

Just judging by the number of guys you see riding around in replica Cervelo kit, you would have thought merchandising sales alone would have kept the team going!

Would be a real shame to see the team disband – for the reasons mentioned above, and also because they even looked distinctive within the peloton. Their kit and image seemed new and different. Though it's surprising the men's team proves too expensive, but the women's team doesn't.

Just hoping guys like Dan Lloyd, Jeremy Hunt and Roger Hammond find their way onto good teams. They've been given some great opportunities by Cervelo and hope they can build on that.

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