Maybe sponsoring the most expensive road team this year had an impact on some of Rapha's other Sponsorship obligations.
Rapha Announces Pared-Down Team for 2013-2014 Season
After much speculation, it was finally announced that Jeremy Powers will be returning to Rapha-Focus for another season of cyclocross. However, the team will experience a shift, since Powers will be one of only three returning members. Gabby Day (Gabby Durrin as of next weekend) and Zach McDonald will also be remaining on the team. Mike Heenan will also be coming back, this year as the Team Director.
“Team Rapha-FOCUS thrills me year after year and I expect this season to top them all,” said Slate Olson, Chief Marketing Officer, Rapha. “We saw breakthrough rides from Gabby, Jeremy and Zach last season but they’ll each be the first to tell you they want even more.”
Rapha/Focus will also be getting serious about race promotion with the StarCrossed race and the Rapha Super Cross Series. Olsen added, “I’m equally as excited to present the Rapha Super Cross Series as a complementary effort to grow the sport of cyclocross globally. Seven events in four countries will challenge novice to elite with the best race day elements we’ve learned from each region.”
Team riders will race FOCUS Mares CX 1.0 bicycles with the choice of rim brake or disc brake models. Stay tuned for more info, and make sure that you’re subscribed to Cyclocross Magazine for Issue 22′s in-depth feature on Zach McDonald.
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It seems like the only areas in cycling that are not "paring down" are BMX and mountain biking. Perhaps because the money is less but I have another theory. Road cycling is suffering from a combination of PED-gate and the continued financial issues in Europe. Makes sense. Cross in the USA is suffering from misguided perceptions. In Europe it is a sport driven from the top down with a focus on making money. Cross riders work really hard during the season and have ridiculous commitments and the races are spectator events. There is a nice cash flow/sponsor thing going and it works very well.
In the US cross is rider driven. The only sponsors are essentially equipment makers that are marketing to the people at the race (no television, no mainstream buy in). It is a limited market with very limited expansion possibilities. Unless the US scene moves towards more of a spectator oriented one (which I don't see happening) the market will find a level it can bear. This is not the level most of us want but it is simple economics.
Think of it this way, most of the shops in my area do NOT carry much cross stuff. Why? Because the only people who buy cross stuff are racers and racers never pay retail and so the shops find very little margin in it. As a result, they carry what they need understanding that traffic in the store is good but cannot dedicate the sort of resources that, say triathlon gear, takes up. Hopefully this changes in the next few years as I HATE buying on line but sometimes one does not have a choice.
I don't want to "dislike" the story, but a story that raises more questions than it answers...is, uhm, frustrating.