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Old 08-10-07, 05:03 AM   #1
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Discovery to disband; Hincapie to T-Mobile

Sorry if this is a repost.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-...ck=1&cset=true

Discovery Channel cycling team to disband
The only U.S.-based team has been unable to find a sponsor since the cable television company announced to would not renew its contract.
By Diane Pucin
August 10, 2007

Discovery Channel, the only U.S.-based professional level cycling team, will announce today that it has been unable to find a new sponsor and will disband at the end of the 2007 racing season, according to sources

The team partially owned by seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong has been searching for a new sponsor since last spring when the cable television company announced it would not re-sign.

While Discovery Channel executives had said they were not influenced by the ongoing doping scandals that have plagued the sport for over a year, it left the team trying to find a new title sponsor willing to spend upward of $14 million a year in a climate of constant negative publicity.

Under pressure to showcase its team, Discovery Channel produced both the Tour de France winner (Spain's Alberto Contador) and third-place finisher (Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, Calif.) last month.

On Thursday, T-Mobile, the sponsor of the German team that had a rider suspended during last month's tour for failing a drug test, announced it was continuing its sponsorship through 2010. A T-Mobile source said that U.S. national champion George Hincapie, who has ridden for Discovery Channel (and its previous incarnation United States Postal Service), would be signing a contract with the company for next season.

Also, Contador and Discovery Channel team director Johan Bruyneel are having a news conference in Spain today amid reports that Contador's role in the Spanish drug investigation Operacion Puerto is not as innocent as Contador and Bruyneel have claimed.

Contador, who was barred this week from riding in a one-day classic race in Hamburg, Germany, because of his alleged connection to Operacion Puerto, had said during the Tour de France that his name appeared in the Spanish documents only because he trained with riders who were being treated by Operacion Puerto doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

Discovery Channel officials were unavailable for comment Thursday and Contador has reportedly said he would only read a statement today and not take questions.

There has been a U.S.-based professional team since 1981 when Jim Ochowicz founded the 7-Eleven team. In 1991, Motorola took over sponsorship until 1996 when the United States Postal Service (USPS) became the title sponsor. It was the USPS team that first nurtured Armstrong and hired Bruyneel.

diane.pucin@latimes.com
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Old 08-10-07, 05:41 AM   #2
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At the end of the TDF, I thought I heard that Discovery would continue for another year. Maybe it was just a rumor or maybe they've reconsidered after all the recent Contador news. Maybe Lance should sponsor Slipstream.
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Old 08-10-07, 06:05 AM   #3
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Maybe Lance should sponsor Slipstream.
Something tells me that Lance and Vaughters aren't the closest of friends.
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Old 08-10-07, 06:26 AM   #4
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Looks like Contador just became a MASSIVE free agent. Hes going to demand HUGE dollars where ever he lands.
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Old 08-10-07, 07:23 AM   #5
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Looks like Contador just became a MASSIVE free agent. Hes going to demand HUGE dollars where ever he lands.
Oh yes, HUGE, T-Mobile, CSC, Gerolsteiner, Slipstream - they'll all be falling over each other to get to him first...















Not.
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Old 08-10-07, 07:57 AM   #6
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Looks like Contador just became a MASSIVE free agent. Hes going to demand HUGE dollars where ever he lands.
HAve you been watching the same cycling news as the rest of us???
Just the fact that the 8 time TDF winning team, with 1st, 2rd, and 8th in GC can't find a sponsor should tell you that the money is leaving cycling.
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Old 08-10-07, 08:10 AM   #7
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HAve you been watching the same cycling news as the rest of us???
Just the fact that the 8 time TDF winning team, with 1st, 2rd, and 8th in GC can't find a sponsor should tell you that the money is leaving cycling.
And T-Mobile, who didn't do very well and had a rider busted during the tour, just renewed.

Seems to me like it will be a lot harder to get an American sponsor. IIRC viewership for this year's TdF was up, and the crowds (there and for the Giro) were also huge.
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Old 08-10-07, 08:34 AM   #8
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Viewing figures were up 33 percent in Australia. 3 people watched.
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Old 08-10-07, 08:34 AM   #9
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Goodbye sister Disco
With your flashing trash lamps
Goodbye sister Disco
And to your clubs and your tramps
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Old 08-10-07, 08:43 AM   #10
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Goodbye sister Disco
With your flashing trash lamps
Goodbye sister Disco
And to your clubs and your tramps
Ooof!
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Old 08-10-07, 08:46 AM   #11
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I love how the news reports keep saying that Contador was banned from a race in Germany he wasn't going to ride anyway.
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Old 08-10-07, 08:49 AM   #12
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So long massive Trek sponsorship
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Old 08-10-07, 08:52 AM   #13
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Bruyneel is "retiring"
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Old 08-10-07, 08:54 AM   #14
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Excerpt from VeloNews

Stapleton and team director Johan Bruyneel had reportedly been close to signing sponsors on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, in a year punctuated by doping scandals, many potential sponsors might have been scared away by the risk of becoming mired in controversy.
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Old 08-10-07, 08:55 AM   #15
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Bruyneel is "retiring"
No doubt to spend more time with his family.
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Old 08-10-07, 09:12 AM   #16
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So long massive Trek sponsorship
well, Trek doesn't sponsor the team just for fun -- they must feel that it helps their bottom line profits, from sales in bike shops around the world.

so if their bikes aren't being used by the top team, will they be as appealing to shoppers? will sales go down? will this hurt a US bike company? will it hurt bike shops?
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Old 08-10-07, 09:17 AM   #17
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I suspect TREK will just get on with another team.
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Old 08-10-07, 09:52 AM   #18
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well, Trek doesn't sponsor the team just for fun -- they must feel that it helps their bottom line profits, from sales in bike shops around the world.

so if their bikes aren't being used by the top team, will they be as appealing to shoppers? will sales go down? will this hurt a US bike company? will it hurt bike shops?

trek grew ten-fold thanx to lance and road riding experienced a re-birth. you bet this will hurt trek and cycling in general.

ed rader
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Old 08-10-07, 09:53 AM   #19
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No doubt to spend more time with his family.
and maybe get in a little golf with och.

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Old 08-10-07, 10:18 AM   #20
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I believe the Contador announcement and the Disco announcement are not conincidents.

Contador knew ahead of time that the team was going to disband. Contador is going to be a free-agent, who by the way, is under a WADA doping investigation. Based on that, I actually think that all the Pro Tour teams (aside from Team Disco) comply with the agreement NOT to sign any rider associated with an on-going investigation. So with Bruyneel gone, Contador I think is going to find the market for his services severly depressed, and he may not even be signed by a Pro Tour team.

Secondly - I think the Team Disco mess is not indicative of the sport. First of all, Tradewinds (Team Disco's management company) was asking for $45 million over 3 years from the title sponsor alone. The median total annual budget for the Pro Tour teams is $9.2 million, which means total revenues from the title sponsors are less than that.

So you had a team, rife with drug accusations and questions, signing questionable riders such as Basso and Contador asking for double what most title sponsors are asking for. And Bruyneel wonders why he had to go to China to try to find a sponsor.

I also happen to think that Bruyneel and Lance asked for such a high price because they see the changes coming, and likely, wanted to leave Pro cycling before the s*&t really starts to hit the fan with Bruyneel. It is akin to the older baseball player who likes being retired, but will come back for $20 million a year (Roger Clemens). Lance made this comment per Cyclingnews's article:

"I do not think you have seen the last of this organisation in the sport, but clearly things need to improve on many levels, with a more unified front, before you would see us venture back into cycling,"

Take it how you want it, but I think interpret this to mean that the rider's and teams should be pushing back against the testing authorities with a more unified front. Not that the sport needs a unified front against doping.


I am really happy that the two guys in my opinion who did more to help fuel the drug culture in Cycling than perhaps any other riders/owners found themselves stuck because their reputations really do precede them.
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Old 08-10-07, 10:36 AM   #21
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No doubt to spend more time with his family.
translation,

partying with Pearl Jam and Dennis Rodman at Lollapalooza:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMZEXepC95A
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Old 08-10-07, 10:41 AM   #22
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translation,

partying with Pearl Jam and Dennis Rodman at Lollapalooza:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMZEXepC95A
Johan can sing backup and play the tambourine? Sweet!

"Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins."
"Johan Bruyneel, smiling politely."
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Old 08-10-07, 11:10 AM   #23
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Well that news sucks, or at least it's not what I thought they were going to announce.
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Old 08-10-07, 12:24 PM   #24
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A successful team can't find a sponsor

The news of Tailwind pulling out of cycling and Bruyneel's retirement is heartbreaking. That a successful cycling team can't find a sponsor is sad indeed.

Other professional sports have managed to keep doping allegations from sticking, and would just as soon not subject their athletes to the level of scrutiny applied to cyclists. The safety of false perceptions keeps those sponsors signing the checks.

Fans of cycling aren't going to blame a sponsor if an athlete fails a drug test. It must be the non-fans the sponsors are afraid of. They don't want to seem guilty by association.

How is professional cycling going to change public perceptions?

Last edited by lmccall; 08-10-07 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 08-10-07, 12:41 PM   #25
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I am really happy that the two guys in my opinion who did more to help fuel the drug culture in Cycling than perhaps any other riders/owners found themselves stuck because their reputations really do precede them.
In other news, cycling fans everywhere are celebrating the decision of T-Mobile to continue in the sport, undeterred by doping evidence against the team which includes the admission that the team had a longstanding, teamwide doping program, positive tests by current riders as recently as last month, recent positive tests by former riders (such as Vino and Kessler), and continued representation of the team by Rolf Aldag, who has admitted participating in the teamwide doping program.
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