Monday Musette – Why Leopard Has Big Stripes

Fotoreporter Sirotti

While an abundance has already been said in other places, I thought today’s Monday Musette might be as good a time as any to share my own thoughts following Thursday’s presentation of Team Leopard-Trek (and there will be no pictures of indigenous people sporting full-body tattoos).

1. Overall, the presentation itself was an incredible let-down—we should all feel duped for having contributed to the hype. I’m glad I didn’t go out of my way to watch it live.

2. In fact, the only real news came before and after the event when it was announced that the squad would be called Team Leopard-Trek, assumedly following a major infusion of funds from the American bike manufacturer.

Trek’s co-title-sponsorship raises a few interesting questions, first and foremost: “that’s it?”  It’s hard to believe the only title sponsor Bryan Nygaard could find was one already on the hook. There was really no one else willing to step up to the plate?

3. Even more interesting is the fact that the team will be riding Shimano components—a major coup for the Japanese firm, but a curiosity considering Trek’s close ties to SRAM.  Maybe SRAM’s budget was already tapped—or maybe Trek’s not supporting the team as much as some might like us to believe.  Either way, Shimano’s presence makes the long-rumored Radio Shack/Leopard merger harder to see coming to fruition in the near future.  (But don’t rule it out.)

4. And what about Radio Shack? Trek’s been supporting Armstrong and Bruyneel since the late 1990’s—doesn’t it seem a bit odd (and telling) that Trek’s apparently putting its chips elsewhere?  Who will have access to new technology first?

5. As for the team’s kit, I think it resembles El Cyclista more than Rapha in terms of its design.  Regarding the clothing’s coloring, I wonder what will happen the first time we see Juan Antonio Flecha from Team Sky, Thor Hushovd from Garmin-Cervelo, and Fabian Cancellara from Leopard in a break together.

6. But what’s really startling about Team Leopard-Trek’s jersey is the abundance of blank space—wide canvases and bands just begging for a major sponsor to jump aboard.  Did last minute deals fall through?  Or is the team hoping to attract someone by essentially dressing the riders in giant “Your Ad Could Be Here” signs? Peculiar.

All in all, it was a bewildering event on a day that yielded more questions than answers.

In other news:

7. Thursday’s press conference did reveal one interesting bit of information: Fabian Cancellara won’t be riding Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy.  While the Swiss star had hoped to make a serious assault on adding the only two monuments missing from his resume, it appears as if management has convinced him to change his mind for now.  Would another Flanders or Roubaix win help fill some of those empty spaces?

8. Danilo DiLuca has apparently signed a one-year contract to race for Katusha—for FREE. The Italian will ride the Giro in support of Joaquin Rodriguez and the Vuelta for himself—both races should be all the more exciting as a result.  That said, someone might want to remind Andre Tchmil that not paying a rider doesn’t absolve his team from the consequences should DiLuca revert to his old methods of preparation.  Money might not be invested, but in this day and age, you can’t put a price on transparency and respect.

9. And last but not least, thanks for your patience with our 2011 team kit.  We’re in the final stretch and should have something to share with you soon.

Thanks and enjoy your week!

Share your comments below.

About Whit

My experiences might easily fit many cycling fans' definitions of “living the dream.” Since getting hooked on the sport watching Lance Armstrong win the 1993 U.S. Pro Championship, I've raced as an amateur on Belgian cobbles, traveled Europe to help build a European pro team, and piloted that team from Malaysia to Mont Ventoux. As a former assistant director sportif with Mercury-Viatel, I've also seen the less dreamy side of the sport – the side rife with broken contracts, infighting, and positive dope tests. These days, I live with my lovely wife in Pennsylvania and share my experiences and views on the sport at Bicycling Magazine, the Embrocation Cycling Journal, and at my own site, Pavé.
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5 Responses to Monday Musette – Why Leopard Has Big Stripes

  1. cthulhu says:

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit exited about the look of the equipment of the teams and after all that speculation going on what the official name would be, but I never cared about the presentation. Everything I wanted to know could be easily looked up on any cycling page in the web, so no disappointments about the show, which I haven't seen.

    But you are right, atm they are big “Your Ad Could Be Here” signs running/riding around. I think it is as somebody else, I forgot who, said, Becca (or whatever his name is) wants to make money of they team, so his companies will not sponsor the team but he will finance them and if a sponsor is found get some percentage of the revenue.

    Anyway, even if the first ProTour race is just around the corner, I believe it is still silly season so let's continue speculating.
    A quite strong fraction of the riders come from Luxembourg's big neighbour Germany which is without any ProTour team now. I admit, the public opinion of and ergo the will to sponsor cycling teams is pretty bad, but still the cycling federation is the biggest sports federation ofter the football federation in Germany and the number of hobby cyclists are still growing. Unfortunately the clubs and the professional sports cannot capitalise of that, thanks to various reasons, which to explain would take long. But maybe if Andersen can market this team well and they bring in the results without any shades of doubts and the German riders don't ride too anonymously, they might become interesting for some German companies or companies from other German speaking countries. While I doubt they are hardly any interesting for any Danish companies since there is still Saxo Bank. Italy, they have their own teams with their own top level riders, Same goes for Belgian and Dutch sponsors. And for French ones I think they are missing a few more French riders.

  2. Andrew says:

    It's a bit tough for them for the kit design since the red in the Luxembourg flag is pretty weak, whereas the blue is very contemporary (hence both Garmin-Cervelo and Sky having a similar hue), but I was really surprised they didn't have any trace of the lion of Luxembourg- or even an allusion to it in the team name. The leopard is the "little" big cat.

  3. Touriste-Routier says:

    What I thought was an aberration and a “tell” is how understated Frank Schleck’s National Champion jersey is. It fits in too well with the mainstream team kit, and offers a similar amount of blank billboard. If they didn’t intend to market this space, they probably would have made a more pronounced statement, at least with the red, white and blue.

    There are two things that are striking about this to me: 1) It doesn’t really bring significant differentiation or identification value to him, so what does that mean vis-a-vis their expectations of him and his usefulness in attracting attention (or does it say, he’ll get the attention, so let’s make the billboard consistently large and available?). 2) yet another team is “messing” with the national champions jersey; I really wish the national federations would dictate the design, and prevent 3rd party artistic license. Consistency and continuity are important for marketing, and national champions jerseys should mean something. But that is another subject…

  4. Fausto Pastronef says:

    "Regarding the clothing’s coloring, I wonder what
    will happen the first time we see Juan Antonio Flecha from Team
    Sky, Thor Hushovd from Garmin-Cervelo, and Fabian Cancellara from
    Leopard in a break together" thor hushovd will wear his
    rainbow jersey in 2011

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