I feel like I need to preface this post with the statement that I’m not looking to embarrass or disparage any sponsors. Corporate sponsorship is absolutely critical to the sport of professional (and amateur) cycling. It clearly takes a lot to run a pro cycling team – a delicate balancing act between athletes, sponsors, crew and media.
But these names are making it really really hard for me to cheer for you as you go flying by me.
The problem actually seems to stem from the fact that the sport has a difficult time finding individual companies willing to invest enough in sponsorship to provide most of the funding a team needs.
There are some obvious exceptions to this in the pro peloton. Team Rabobank is just ‘Rabobank.’ That makes it easy when you want them to win. “Go Rabobank!!” rolls off the tongue like a tubular across smooth tarmac. Team RadioShack is in the same boat – perhaps even easier. They’ve got a nick name to go off of – ‘The Shack.’ Bissell is just Bissell – they officially don’t even put ‘Team’ in their name. Makes it super easy to cheer for them: “Suck it up Bissell!!” or “Drop that wheel suck Bissell!!”
All of the above teams have the advantage of a major title sponsor that is footing a majority of the bill. They all have other sponsors, but the title sponsor gets the honored spot in the name.
So what happens if you don’t have a title sponsor as a team? Well, you get more than one sponsor to work together, and combine their names in convenient ways. Saxo Bank used to be just Saxo Bank, but when funding started to get difficult they became Team Saxo Bank Sungard. Then we’ve got our hyphenated teams. HTC-Highroad, for example. Or Team Garmin-Cervélo. But those are still easy names to use. You can even opt to use only part of the hyphenated name and folks will still know what you are talking about. “Go Garmin!” is just as effective as “Go Cervélo” and everyone will know exactly who you are cheering for.
But things get more complicated quickly. This particular affliction seems to effect the Pro Continental teams – where luring in corporate sponsors to the “title sponsor” role is more difficult.
Introducing the “Presented By” – or p/b – moniker. Teams started using the hyphenated naming conventions, then throwing in an additional “presented by” – a hyphenated name further hyphenated.
There is the UnitedHealthcare team. Simple name, right? Well, Maxxis just happens to be one of their major sponsors, so the official team name is “UnitedHealthcare presented by Maxxis.” That’s a mouthful.
Some teams like to mix it up a bit. Instead of simply being presented, they are “Powered by.” Team Spider Tech powered by C10. Hmmm… Still not too bad I guess.
But Kenda really takes it up a notch.
Like I said – this is not in any way a disparaging remark against the Kenda tire company. In fact, they sponsor a comparably huge number of cycling teams at all levels, and for this I applaud and salute them. However, they seem to be the company that results in some of the longest names. Prohibitively long names, that is.
Things start out innocently enough. There’s one of the oldest pro cycling teams in the US – Team Jelly Belly presented by Kenda. OK, that’s still not so bad. I can easily cheer for them when they fly by. “Go Jelly Belly!” works great. But as soon as Kenda steps into a shared title sponsorship role, things go completely south. I present to you: “Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder.” Are you serious? I honestly don’t think I can even say that name verbatim in my head in the amount of time it takes the peloton to buzz by me.
Frankly, I think us bloggers should adopt this strategy. JustAnotherCyclist is clearly too easy to say. From now on, I’m thinking we call this blog “VeloReviews/JustAnotherCyclist/Integrate Performance Fitness/PROBIKEWRENCH powered by WordPress/Ning presented by Hostgator/Ning.” And that’s not even with the minor sponsors included!