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.