I got a call this afternoon from Matt Jewett, the team manager for the Cannondale mountain bike racing team. I had heard that Sobe was not renewing their sponsorship for 2009 and that Cannondale was shrinking their team but combining it with the international team under the Cannondale Factory Racing banner.
I had been waiting for the call to say that I would not be selected for the new team. With today's economic conditions I would have been surprised if they had a team at all. In fact other bike manufacturer's had recently announced they would not be having their teams again in 2009. I was totally floored when Matt asked me if I would be interesting in racing again for Cannondale and the new team! So now it's back to the grindstone and getting ready for 2009. I'm just not sure which races I'm going to do.
Here is a press release recently posted on the Cannondale web site about the CFR team.
Cannondale unveiled today a plan to support an all-new Cannondale Factory Race (CFR) Team this year. The revamped role is combined with a fresh new look, designed to maximize Cannondale’s position as a global leader in cycling. The team’s roster includes superstars on the World Cup circuit, but also expands into the North American racing scene for a truly worldwide presence.
The new team will field an impressive roster of riders. In Europe, World Cup veterans Roel Paulissen, Martin Gujan, and Marco Aurelio Fontana lead the team. In America, CFR is merging with the former SoBe-Cannondale team, which means that racing legends like Gunnar Shogren and Matthew Lee along with several dozen more riders will round out the roster, racing in regional events.
"An opportunity presented itself to combine the efforts of the best athletes racing on both sides of the Atlantic," said Rory Mason, director of sports marketing for Cannondale. "It really gives us a voice at a wide variety of races, from local fat tire festivals to UCI podiums."
Changes in the existing team structures made the merger possible. SoBe notified Cannondale earlier this month that it would not continue as a Cannondale team sponsor.
"We’ve had an excellent working relationship with SoBe and enjoyed many successes after their return to the team this past year, " says Matt Jewett, Inside Sales Director and Promotions Manager for Cannondale. "The upside is that all the best traditions of the team can live on. These riders have continuously been the best ambassadors for the sport of cycling and active lifestyles as a whole. Now they have a global platform on which to carry this 10-year heritage."
Although the teams combine forces, most of the racing operations for Cannondale will remain largely unchanged, including the teams’ co-sponsors.