Say goodbye to most likely the last international cycling team sponsored by a U.S. company. Discovery Channel will end it's sponsorship of the team this year.
What does it say when a company can't see any value in sponsoring a team that is stacked with MAJOR stars of the sport?? Now put yourself in the shoes of a U.S. pro (or amateur shlep) mountain biker trying to get some sponsorship dollars!
It's really no surprise at all. Lance Armstrong gave some exposure to the sport here in the U.S. through his cancer comeback story and 7 Tour victories. But lets face it, if it wasn't for "the story", even WITH the 7 victories 80% + of America with would be saying "Lance who??"
I had a guy at work last year asking me if I thought LeMond could win the Tour!!! I replied if he was 20 years younger and 50 pounds lighter. (no offense Greg)
I also GUARANTEE you that other than we cyclists NO ONE in America knows or cares who folks like Ivan Basso or Tom Boonen are!
We live in a country where Floyd Landis gets exposure not because of his Tour victory, but because of the ensuing drug scandal. Bikes that run on "human power" are considered "toys", where obesity runs rampant, where whole entire news shows and specials are devoted to a dead whack job, washed up model/junkie, and where basketball/football/baseball players being or ACTING like they are gangsters and/or dicks is considered "cool".
How companies spend their dough is their business, and obviously they have to spend their marketing and advertising dollars in a way that is beneficial to them, their shareholders, customers etc., It just saddens me that other Americans don't share my love of the sport, and the admiration I have for the athletes who do it.
Sorry for the Sunday rant. The coffee was turned up to "eleven" this morning.