Some thoughts on Lampre

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Lampre rolled steel

This is how Lampre rolls

Lampre have been in the sport for years and years, first when Maurizio Fondriest emerged as the most powerful one day rider of the day back in 1993 and I’ve written before about just how little the kit has changed over the years. But for all the years in the sport, can you tell me what Lampre is, do you own or use any Lampre products or services? Well, they make pre-coated steel, or in plain English the white metal that encases washing machines and refrigerators. It’s also found on other things like air conditioning units, coffee machines and so on.

These aren’t quite the products you want to sell to rural roadside spectators and midweek TV viewers. Even in prime time for the Giro or Tour, not many people are going to think “I must get some Lampre“, even on a subliminal level. Instead, the company has used the team as a sort of vanity product, to showcase the company and to provide an image of winning across Europe, useful for a company with operations in Portugal and Poland (which part-explains the hiring of Marcin Sapa and Przemysław Niemiec) as well clients in Germany. In short, the spend has probably massively exceeded the benefits.

But I can’t help wondering if this unconventional support is also unconditional. The team is now in the midst of a big doping enquiry. It’s worth stating the team is a structure renting out the name and kit to Lampre, the Italian manufacturer is not the owner of the team. But obviously there are close links, notably corporate boss Mario Galbusera being a president of the team.

I’m consistently surprised by teams that just pay money to a team manager and then leave it at that. Maybe there’s some corporate hospitality, perhaps some photo opportunities. But for me if a team is going to be named after the sponsor then their has to be close co-operation. Not specifically but to leave a company’s public image in the hand of suspect managers, crooked riders and dodgy doctors is asking for trouble. These businesses can take years to create, a scandal on the front pages can undo an awful lot of hard work.

In summary, as much as I admire this company’s long-term support of pro cycling, I can’t help wonder if a little nervousness on their part would encourage a less accident prone team. Because if the investigation proves things haven’t been done right with the team, it’s not right to see the riders cop all the blame. Staff and the sponsor need to answer questions too.

GluteCramp April 19, 2011 at 10:23 am

I wonder how far away a ‘global cycling truth and reconciliation commission’ is. For sure, if/when it happens, the worst stories won’t come from the riders, they’ll come from the soigners, the team managers, and the doctors. I believe these people all have to be part of the accounting, any time a rider tests positive – rarely is it credible that riders acted completely without the knowledge of their teams.
While some small steps have already been made (the exclusion of certain Italian doctors, and the licensing scheme for DS), there is more work to be done. A disincentive system is the only way I could see this working (ban the staff, not just the rider – make all involved invested in promoting a clean sport). Sure, this may create some uncomfortable moments amongst team members in the short term, but in the long term it’s the only way to make all involved part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The Inner Ring April 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

GluteCramp: I’ve thought of this and not sure. People can confess or they might stay quiet. Either way many might continue to do wrong after. Why would a champion, say an Olympic hero, pop up and confess for the hell of it?

GluteCramp April 19, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I agree it’s unlikely – even if there were conditions by which these confessions could be made, it would probably be ruinous for the sport in a commercial sense.
And therein lies the problem: how to make the clean break the sport arguably needs, without losing the financial and media support it needs to survive. To this question I unfortunately have no answer.

Larry T. April 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Lampre ‘s an ITALIAN company! There are hundreds of Italian companies who’ve sponsored cycling teams over the years without a real advertising payback. It’s like some rich guys in the USA sponsoring an Indy 500 entry…they like motorsports and get to write off their passion as an advertising expense…same with the Italians. Did Molteni EVER sell enough salami to recoup his investment in Merckx and Co? What about the rich guys who back Garmin and Leopard-Trek? Or Highroad? They get even less back since there’s no product or service to actually sell to consumers. I’m thankful for these folks, cycling team sponsorship is NOT always a USA-style, “how much publicity do we get for how much money?” proposition. PASSION still plays a part!

merlin April 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I always thought the team was sponsored by blood sucking worms.

Then I learned the truth

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: