By Bryan Jew, VeloNews managing editor
With the season basically underway, we’re finally figuring out just which Division 3 teams are going to be around in the U.S. this year.
The lastest information coming from USA Cycling shows 12 U.S. D3 teams, to go along with Division 1 U.S. Postal Service and Division 2 Navigators Insurance. A quick glance at the list reveals some absences from last year, including the ones everybody knows about – Saturn, Prime Alliance, 7UP, Schroeder Iron – and a few that nobody was really sure about: Sportsbook.com, West Virginia and LeMond-Captain Cra-Z-Soap (which I would be sad to see go, if for no other reason than I like writing “Cra-Z-Soap”).
New for 2004 are Team Monex (which almost went D3 last year), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. growing out of the Mathis Bros. amateur team, Subway-Express, McGuire Cycling and Team Seasilver (originally the Parish Foundation team).
Here’s the list of D3 teams, as it stands right now:
Colavita Olive Oil
Sharper Image-Mathis Bros.
McGuire Pro Cycling
Over the past week, we’ve been seeking out roster information on some of the new squads that have kept a low profile so far. Here’s a look at a few of those teams:
McGuire Pro Cycling — Sponsor: McGuire Real Estate. Riders: Mike Taylor, Dave McCook, Dave Fuentes, Roman Kilun, Josh Klikna, Jamiel Danesh, Colin Beardsley, Patrick Dunaway, Devon Vigus.
Team Seasilver — Sponsor: Seasilver USA nutritional supplements. Riders: Drew Deters, Jacob Erker, Peter Knudsen, Adam Livingston, Daniel Ramsey, Matt Sadauckas, Neil Shirley.
In other notes, Subway-Express will be managed by Kendra Wenzel and former Saturn director Rene Wenzel. According to Kendra Wenzel the team did not even begin to come together until last month, so no surprise that we haven’t heard much about them to date. We’ll extract more information from the Wenzels as soon as we can.
As another season gets underway, I’m still left shaking my head at the lack of PR savvy among many involved in race teams or events. While I’ve always said that if the biggest thing a pro team is offering their sponsor is exposure in VeloNews, then that team is in some trouble, at the same time it’s amazing that in a sponsorship-driven sport there are teams and events out there that are doing very little to promote themselves. I’m reminded of this every year about this time when we’re trying to pull together all of our pro team information for our VeloNews season preview.
Just as an example, VeloNews associate editor Neal Rogers first learned about Chris Horner’s signing with Webcor this off-season from a phone conversation with Horner. Are you kidding? It’d be like if the New York media found out about A-Rod getting traded to the Yankees by seeing him show up pinstripes at spring training. “Hey Alex, what are you doing in Yankees camp?”
You sign the biggest name in the sport, where’s the week’s worth of press releases and phone calls?
On the other hand, one person who did seem to get it over the off-season was Colavita Olive Oils John Profaci, Jr. Anytime Profaci signed, or was close to signing, someone big – like Mark McCormack, Nathan O’Neill and Ivan Dominguez — he made sure someone at VeloNews knew about it, and as a result Colavita was in the news pretty regularly for about a month last fall. Will they live up to the hype and coverage? Maybe. Does it matter? Not really, ’cause you can’t take back the coverage they’ve already gotten.
A few years back, one very successful U.S. team sent out what seemed like a daily e-mail update. Not only to the media, but to sponsors, riders (from other teams as well) and others somehow involved in the sport. It got to the point where some people were actually putting the team’s e-mail on their “kill” lists, and it was almost comical to a point. It was kind of like the Denver sports coverage a couple of years back, when John Elway made the news if he had a bowel movement. But, this team was never hurting for media coverage. Sure, the coverage was mostly the result of posting wins on the road, but a little, very simple PR effort surely didn’t hurt them.
So, to all the teams and promoters out there, I offer only a little reminder. Never forget this golden rule: journalists a lazy lot. All it takes is a few e-mails, phone calls or candy-grams. (C’mon, I ran a press release for Team Endeavour in this space two weeks ago for gosh sakes.)