Trek had announced their arrival in the US but they wanted to be a real contender, and that meant increasing their overseas presence. “When we decided the vision, we decided we wanted to be present the first year, and be competitive, at the front of races in year two of the program,” said Shriver. “We thought, let’s try the European scene, and be at the front there with Katie, and a European.”
While supporting Compton at several European events throughout the winter, Shriver poked around to see which riders might fit Trek’s culture, marketing, and product testing objectives. “I had my eye on certain riders,” said Shriver. “The riders that are most valuable in terms of product development and marketing, but also who would be the best fit for Trek. We are like a family, and we like our athletes to feel that, and to be a part of that family.”
Shriver had conversations with all of the teams, discussing whose contracts were coming up, and who might be a good match for the Trek program. As soon as he sat down with Crelan-Euphony team manager Jan Verstraeten, Shriver sensed that Nys’ organization, which came across to him as professional, honest, and open, would be a smart match for Trek. During this initial conversation, Nys’ management team let Shriver know that they were renegotiating several of their contracts and would be interested in speaking further.
Shriver returned to Waterloo in March and told the Sports Marketing team that Nys was in play. At first Simon Thompson, Trek’s Sports Marketing Manager, assumed getting Nys on board would be cost-prohibitive. It was turning into a busy year for Thompson and Trek’s team projects. Trek’s purchase of the Leopard SA UCI World Tour license was a considerable investment, and taking on another team like Crelan-Euphony, or even a high profile rider like Nys, would prove difficult. Thompson put it on his to-do list, but didn’t connect with Nys’ management company Golazo, until the end of May.
Golazo, a Belgian sports marketing firm, represents a wide range of athletes and manages many high profile sporting events, including cyclocross races like the bpost Bank Trofee series. The firm’s CEO, Bob Verbeeck, speaks American-accented English, which he perfected while on a running scholarship at Iowa State in the 80’s. When Thompson finally connected with Verbeeck, and Golazo’s Managing Sports Director Christophe Impens, the two parties quickly hit it off. Like Shriver, Thompson felt a quick connection to Nys’ team, and sensed that Verbeeck understood where Trek was coming from. After Thomson realized that Crelan-Euphony would just be Nys and Sven Vanthourenhout, things got serious.
Despite his original skepticism, the deal went smoothly for Thompson. “I’d have to say it was actually really easy. We quickly realized we wanted the same things,” said Thompson about the negotiation process. “It wasn’t a question of dollars and cents. It was about why we were doing it and what were the things we want to get out of it. I think we had really similar goals in that respect.”
While that may seem like a lot of marketing speak—nobody ever wants to appear strictly mercenary—Nys has been vocal and active in his desire to expand the sport, and signing with an innovative, American brand certainly can only help his ability to showcase the sport to larger cyclocross bike-buying markets.