WATERLOO, WI (BRAIN) — When the Planet Bike Cup kicks off the biggest cyclocross series in the country in a few weeks, Trek Bicycle will have a major presence in the fast-growing sport for the first time.
Trek recently stepped in to become title sponsor of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, a four-weekend series that kicks off September 22 just 15 minutes from Trek’s headquarters in Wisconsin.
Trek’s Eric Bjorling said Trek had already decided to make a bigger push into cyclocross this year when the opportunity to sponsor the USGP came up unexpectedly when the series’ original sponsor, financially struggling Exergy, couldn’t meet its commitments.
“We couldn’t stand to see [the USGP] not happen,” Bjorling said. He said the title sponsorship cost “over $100,000.”
(WD-40, which is introducing a new line of bicycle lubricants, also stepped up to help save the series.)
The USGP announcement came on the heels of Trek announcing sponsorship of the U.S.’s most successful 'cross racer, Katie Compton, and an 11-member team called the Trek Cross Collective.
So what prompted Trek’s sudden interest in the muddy fall sport?
The company has long had cyclocross bikes in its line (and in the LeMond Bicycles and Gary Fisher lines) but has not previously sponsored top athletes or events.
Bjorling said Trek is not making any major cyclocross product introductions this season, but is planning for the future.
“It’s not an arena that we’ve paid a lot of attention to in the past,” he said. “ 'Cross has been one of the fastest-growing race platforms for a few years, not just in the U.S. but around the world. It’s growing fast but it’s still very core.
“There is a lot of potential with 'cross for our retailers; people use 'cross bikes for a lot of purposes.”
Bjorling said working with top athletes like Compton will lead to better products in seasons to come.
And while the commitment to the USGP was unexpected, he said cyclocross fans within Trek are excited to be involved, especially with the opening event just down the road. Former top 'cross racer Matt Shriver, who now works at Trek, was the first to push for the company to save the series from cancellation, Bjorling said.
“We never miss a chance to throw a party,” he said.