Kenda-Geargrinder is set to become Kenda-5-hour Energy presented by Geargrinder with the announcement of the energy drink as a co-title sponsor Wednesday. General manager Chad Thompson said that the non-industry backing is a boon to his squad and its existing sponsors and that, yes, riders will be drinking from those tiny bottles on the road.
“It’s really big for us,” said Thompson. “It sets us in a much more comfortable budget setting. It brings major corporate backing to the team outside of industry sponsors, which in turn will bring more recognition to those industry sponsors.”
Thompson’s program took a leap forward in early February when he landed VeloNews’ 2010 North American Roadie of the Year, Ben Day. Day, winner of the Redlands Bicycle Classic and Tour de Beauce last year, was without a contract after the Pegasus Racing team folded in December. The Aussie joined his new teammates at a camp in Florida last week.
Thompson told VeloNews that he was in talks with 5-hour Energy’s parent company, Living Essentials, prior to the recent offseason and the synergy of Day’s arrival, an Amgen Tour of California invite and the new sponsorship agreement developed simultaneously.
“It allows me to attract bigger name riders. (The riders) knew the potential was there and that is part of what attracted them,” he said. “(Living Essentials) wanted a guarantee that we’d do all the large American tours and then a couple of areas of their interest outside like Ireland and Australia. We couldn’t guarantee that, no matter what budget we had.”
When the California invitation came in, so did the call from the folks at 5-hour Energy. “We got the immediate call that they’re interested,” said Thompson. “Then we signed Ben Day and they’re really interested.”
Riders tested the product at camp and according to Thompson, they “all loved it.” Riders will complement their current in-race nutrition with the two-ounce bottles.
In a release, 5-hour Energy president Scott Henderson pointed to an opportunity for the brand to expand from traditional American sports: “Although we are selling over one million bottles a day, we are always looking for new opportunities to reach out to new consumers… We see this as a great opportunity to help this leading team achieve even better levels of success, and as a way to connect with the active lifestyle community that enjoys watching competitive cycling.”