WATERLOO, WI (BRAIN)—Retailers who learned yesterday that Trek planned to sever ties with Greg LeMond expressed sadness but little surprise that the relationship had deteriorated.
“A lot of the comments that LeMond made about Armstrong left a sour taste in people’s mouths, so I’m not surprised that they parted ways,” said Mike Nix, owner of Liberty Bicycles in Asheville, North Carolina. “It’s just sad because he’s such a great rider, he was the first American winner, and what he did was incredible.”
Trek yesterday asked a federal court to release it from its contractual obligation to three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond. Its suit cited multiple breaches of contract including LeMond’s public criticisms of Lance Armstrong and other prominent riders.
Currently, around 800 retailers in North America sell LeMond bicycles. Those Bicycle Retailer and Industry News spoke with said they had sold fewer LeMond bikes in recent years and had found it increasingly difficult to support the line.
“It’s really hard to sell bikes when the spokesperson for the line is engaged in a continuous barrage of negative statements about bike racing,” said Mike Jacoubowsky, owner of Chain Reaction Bicycles in Redwood City, California.
Jacoubowsky felt as though a weight had been lifted. “It is with some relief that I no longer have to be concerned with Trek reps coming into the store saying I need to do a better job supporting the line. Just as it is a relief that I will no longer have to engage customers in conversations about doping that are counterproductive to my business,” he said.
Trek would have introduced 2009 and 2010 model years of LeMond bikes under the existing licensing agreement. It now plans to end production with current models.
Retailers lamented that Trek announced its decision at the start of the season. Brad Hill, owner of Goodale’s Bike Shop in Nashua, New Hampshire, said he was sitting on a warehouse full of bikes waiting for the snow to melt.
“I have confidence that Trek will stand behind the product sold and I don’t have any fear of not selling the bikes,” Hill said. “But it is bad timing. July would have been better. Hopefully I can maintain my margins.”
John Burke, Trek’s president, said Trek will work with its dealers to sell through LeMond bikes.
Trek is offering dealers a rebate to encourage sales of current inventory. The rebate covers inline LeMond models sold through June 30. Trek will continue to fill orders for LeMond bicycles from existing inventory, but will not discount 2008 models. It also will continue to provide warranty support for current and previous LeMond models.