The NetApp-Endura team will morph into the Bora-Argon 18 team for 2015, as the Canadian bicycle manufacturer and the German appliance company have joined forces to take over the title sponsorship of the continental team for the next three years.
“We chose this team because we firmly believe it will confirm our standing as a leading and innovative bike brand on a worldwide scale,” said Gervais Rioux, co-founder of Argon 18. “NetApp-Endura is a pro continental team that comprises some 20 riders and has an impressive international race calendar. With front-runners such as Leopold König, it has been making steady progress since its beginnings. Its seventh place in the general individual classification of this year’s Tour de France is irrefutable proof of this. Now that the team will be riding Argon 18 bikes, we’ll have the best possible allies to help us develop innovative new technologies and, consequently, better products for the team to use.”
Argon 18, which was founded by Rioux and his brother Martin in 1999, signed the contract with the German race team just before the start of this year’s Tour de France. However, the process actually began back in August 2013. According to Gervais, the team actually approached his company approximately four years ago.
Previously, Argon 18 supplied bikes to the now-defunct Canadian pro continental team SpiderTech. Argon 18 wasn’t able to find a team for 2013. But, this year, they sponsored the Canadian continental team Silber Pro Cycling and the U.S. continental team Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Maxxis. Rioux says his company plans to continue it’s support of Jelly Belly for two more years.
Argon 18 is now part of a very select group of bike manufacturers with product that can appear in the Tour de France. NetApp-Endura was one of the wildcard picks for this year’s Tour. WorldTour teams, such as Giant-Shimano, Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale, are guaranteed spots in the Tour. Pro continental teams, such as Bretagne–Séché Environnement, Cofidis, IAM Cycling and NetApp–Endura, rely on invites from race organizers.
“For us, this was a long process,” said Rioux. “We wanted to do it with a creative offer. I can’t stay at home and say, ‘I have a small company. It’s too expensive for us.’ Yes, there is some money involved. It’s not cheap. But we found a way to make it. We built up the foundation to make an offer when the time was right.”
Rioux said Argon 18 is committed to funding the new team with “hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a major investment for us.” However, he believes such an investment can increase sales considerably.
The deal also means Rioux’s company will supply the team with 150 to 200 bikes, every year. These will include such models as the Gallium Pro road bike and the E-118 time trial bike.
“We are developing a new category of bike that will be suitable. Of course, we have a special bike for Paris-Roubaix,” said Rioux. “We are ready for the team.” Details for the latter two bike are forthcoming.
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