By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Dave Cullinan, Steve Larsen, Tim Gould, Leigh Donovan and Elke Brutsaert are just some of the names that sported the fire-engine-red uniforms of the Schwinn mountain bike team over the years. But in 2002, with the century-old bike maker now owned by Illinois-based Pacific Cycles, the racing team is officially no more.
“We wanted to do something with Schwinn this year, but we were told to hold off for now because the direction the Schwinn brand is going doesn’t go with racing,” said Pacific’s sports marketing manager Erick Marcheschi about instructions he received from Pacific’s top brass.
As for Pacific’s two other major properties, GT and Mongoose, the news isn’t quite so bad. Mongoose, along with co-title sponsor Hyundai, will be back for another year with essentially the same line-up as in 2001: Eric Carter, Marc Gullickson and Todd Wells. BMX’er Brian Schmith will also make an occasional mountain-bike race appearance to compete in dual slalom and mountain cross events.
The team will be managed by Pete Dylewski, heretofore the main man at Double A Marketing, whose clients include 2000 dual world champion Wade Bootes.
GT, meanwhile, will be a one-man show, with reigning dual world champion Brian Lopes as the only name on the mountain-bike marquee.
GT’s downsizing, combined with the elimination of the Schwinn team, means the loss of 10 pro roster spots for 2002. A year ago GT employed a seven-person squad including Lopes, while Schwinn had four riders on board.
“It’s pretty sad,” said reigning cross-country world champion Alison Dunlap, who rode for GT last year and has since signed on with the newly formed Team Luna Chix.
Among the former GT/Schwinn riders still seeking employment are Finnish downhiller Katja Repo, Belgian cross-country pro Roel Paulissen, and French gated-racing specialist Mickael Deldycke.
Steve Peat has put together a solo program backed primarily by British-based Orange; Fabien Barel has signed on with the Maxxis-Europe squad; Kelli Emmett joined Dunlap on Luna Chix; and Donovan and Brutsaert both retired.