THOUSAND OAKS, CA (BRAIN)—High-profile doping allegations made by Floyd Landis and at least one day of soggy weather didn’t dampen spirits among exhibitors at this year’s Tour of California.
The eight-day stage race wrapped up on Sunday—a sunny, but windy day in Thousand Oaks, California. The race was held in May for the first time this year rather than February.
The lifestyle festival, which takes place at the finish of every day’s race, is quickly becoming an essential stop for bicycle brands to reach consumers.
“We consider it a very important event on our calendar,” said Doug Martin, U.S. marketing manager for Felt. “It’s a branding exercise. It allows us to show our wares, talk about the line and deliver our message face-to-face.”
Felt debuted its 2011 DA to consumers during the weeklong race.
James Cook, who was manning the Haro/Masi tent, a first-time exhibitor at the Tour of California, said the festival has a broader reach than even Sea Otter because it attracts a more open-minded buyer.
“Sea Otter is an enthusiast event. Consumers there are already sold on a bike brand,” Cook said.
The festival drew a couple dozen brands including Specialized, Cannondale, Trek, Oakley, Hincapie Apparel, Kenda, Focus Bikes, SRAM and Yakima.
Exhibitors said crowds were steady all week, although perhaps more muted on the final two days at the time trial in Los Angeles and in Thousand Oaks, than in year’s past. Part of that, some reasoned, could be that the "Lance factor" diminished when Armstrong crashed out of the race during stage five. People turned out in strong numbers during the cooler, wetter stages in Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz.
One thing that didn’t seem to make much of an impact was Floyd Landis’ admission early this week that he doped and his allegations that many high-profile cyclists did the same (although two spectators at Sunday’s finish toted signs with Landis’ name and a picture of a rat).
“Consumers who are actively interested in bike racing have heard about doping for so long one more accusation is not going to faze them. Consumers who don’t actively follow bike racing but like to cycle don’t care,” said Patrick Van Horn, marketing manager at Giant USA.
Martin agreed, saying the story was a conversation piece at breakfast among industry at the Tour, but not much more.
“There’s more chatter on the inside than the outside,” he said.