It will be the Alberto’s third, but Mike’s first.
Mike Sinyard, Specialized’s founder and owner, will soon be celebrating one of his sponsored riders winning the Tour de France — a first for the California company. For the last two weeks, his odds have looked pretty good, as Alberto Contador’s Astana squad and Andy Schleck’s Saxo Bank team ride Specialized bikes.
Specialized has sponsored scores of winning racers over the years, but the Tour has remained elusive. As the two dominant bike companies in the United States, Specialized and Trek openly duel for the media spotlight. Until now, the Tour has been Trek’s. By signing up the two heavy favorites in the off-season, Specialized clearly made an early play to reap this July prize.
VeloNews caught up with Sinyard in Bordeaux.
So how does it feel to see two Specialized bikes dueling at the top of the Tour leader board?
Hell, yeah! It feels great! (laughing) The whole team, the whole company just worked really hard on this. It feels great, because we’re all passionate cyclists as well, so it’s what we love.
Do you have a favorite among Saxo and Astana, Andy or Alberto?
Ah, you know I would say all the riders. … You know every rider is different, right? And every rider has their skills. You know, we love to track the riders, and we learn so much from them, how to make the bikes and equipment better. It’s awesome.
Your company has a long history with sponsorship in professional racing, all the way back to Ned Overend.
Yeah, even before! John Howard. (laughing) It goes back to the very beginning. It’s what we’ve always done. For sure, Ned Overend, absolutely. Still today at 54 or 55 he can still throw down up the big mountains. He just won nationals on a singlespeed, on a Rockhopper. On a Rockhopper — isn’t that cool? It’s really great. It is a great time, it’s really fun to be here. And of course sometimes at Specialized we keep thinking about what’s next, how do we do it better, and sometimes we don’t really celebrate. We just go, “Hey, what’s the next thing?”
Remind us of your history in grand tours.
It really goes back to the 7-Eleven team, when we were sponsoring them with helmets and the Specialized-Du Pont wheel. That was with the 7-Eleven team, with Davis Phinney and later Lance Armstrong, back in the day. Yeah, it goes back.
The Tour de France win itself has been a long time coming for Specialized. You’ve probably invested heavily to get here. Are you feeling that the costs justify the gains?
Well, that’s always the question. But you know being the owner of the company and loving cycling I don’t really have to justify those things. (laughing) Well, really, it’s like some people when they do well with a company they buy a big house, or a yacht or an airplane, right? I just put it all back in the company and put some in racing, too. We don’t have a big lifestyle. I’ve got a good house and a car and it’s paid off, and the family’s all good, what else do you need?
Trek has made a big deal of its Tour wins in the last 10 years. I imagine there’s some rivalry there. Has that fueled your efforts?
For us the racing is always something we love to do, whether it’s the mountain, road, triathlon, or whatever it is. And for sure, the impact Lance Armstrong has had on cycling worldwide, but especially in North America, is phenomenal. It’s phenomenal. And you know what? We’ve all benefited from that, from Lance’s energy toward cycling. I mean, hopefully he keeps riding and different things, Leadville 100, you know whatever it is. I did the Leadville last year, and seeing him there doing that, it was incredible. It’s really good, it’s really awesome. We’re a competitive bunch. I mean, our ego lies in doing a good job for the riders – the riders that buy our bikes. We want people, when I see somebody out riding one of our bikes, and I ask them, they don’t know I work at Specialized, they go, “Wow, this bike is really good because of this and this,” and that’s what we want. That’s a lot of the psychic income when you’re passionate about the sport. I’d ride even if I wasn’t doing this. I don’t know what else to do, I love it. My wife says on the weekend, if I’m around, “Aren’t you going to go for a ride today?”
Is there a pretty big party scheduled in Morgan Hill, and are you going to do it by remote in Paris?
We’re going to be there, a few of us that have worked really closely with the athletes are going to be there. I haven’t figured out what our celebration is. I think it’s a celebration also for all the bike shops that we deal with, to celebrate with them, because they’re all passionate as well. And yeah, it’s awesome. I mean, I love all the victories. Big motivation — it’s fun. You know it’s just fun to be out there and doing it. I always think that I’m really lucky to be doing what I’m doing, and loving what I’m doing, working with people I really love and having a good time.