The Axel Merckx Project, Hagens Berman, NEON Adventures, SRAM®, Specialized, Cal Giant, the American Proficiency Institute and Velofix come together to invest in the future of cycling.
Axeon Cycling Team announced Monday it is significantly bolstering its sponsorship for the 2016 season to expand one of the world's leading cycling development programs.
In addition to current sponsors NEON Adventures, SRAM®, and the American Proficiency Institute, Axeon (pronounced "AK'shun") will be joined next year by Hagens Berman, a Seattle-based national class action law firm, Specialized Bicycle Components, California Giant Berry Farms, a long-time sponsor of cycling that is headquartered in Watsonville, California, and Velofix, North America's largest fleet of franchised Mobile Bike Shops.
Axeon Cycling Team General Manager Axel Merckx said the new sponsorship program will allow the re-branded "Axeon Hagens Berman" team to continue its tradition of nurturing and advancing young, talented riders from the amateur ranks to the highest level of the sport. The additional funding will be channeled toward training, personal coaching, conditioning, bike fittings, performance counseling, physiological assessments, and technical training, he said.
"This is a major step forward for us and a groundbreaking one when it comes to our development of young riders," Merckx said. "The past six seasons, we have sent 18 riders to the WorldTour. Getting riders to that level will continue to remain our focus. The new support from these partners will allow us to sign additional riders, provide them with better resources, and participate in more races throughout Europe and the United States."
From its Seattle headquarters, Hagens Berman fights for the rights of consumers, employees and others across the nation against corporate greed, fraud and deception. Outside the courtroom, many members of the firm's legal team enjoy cycling to work and on the weekend.
"This is a natural move for Hagens Berman in our support for promising young talent in their rise to compete at the highest levels of cycling and forge the skills to succeed both on and off the bike," said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman.
Hagens Berman has sponsored one of the longest-running UCI road racing teams registered in the USA, Jamis-Hagens Berman, and also bolstered the Hagens Berman U-23 Cycling Program. With the new Axeon Hagens Berman team, Berman said the firm looks forward to focusing on the Under 23 level.
"We want to provide young riders with opportunities and experiences that can change their lives forever," he said.
Other new sponsors say they are equally as excited about being involved.
"Specialized has looked at Axel's team in the last few seasons and we have always been very impressed by the great program and the talent that he has developed over the years," said Simone Toccafondi Head of Specialized Racing. "Specialized Racing will provide the team with the best equipment and the technology needed to interpret every race in the best way possible. With the technical partnership with Specialized, riders will have the option of pro tour proven bikes including the new Venge ViAS.
Additionally, riders will have access to key time saving equipment like the SWorks 6 road shoe and Evade helmet."
California Giant Berry Farms says the partnership is a perfect fit.
"We are excited about this new partnership with Axeon Cycling," said Anthony Gallino, Vice President of Sales. "This new connection provides our riders the opportunity to have even more support as they strive to achieve the highest level in pro cycling. California Giant has supported a team for 15 years and during that time period we have escalated our program due partnerships and the talented riders we have been honored to sponsor. In turn they have supported our strong commitment to health and fitness. This new partnership with Axeon will allow us to continue our commitment to this sport and the health and fitness message for our berries we grow and ship both domestically and internationally."
VeloFix co-founder and CEO Chris Guillemet said: "We are excited and very proud to partner with Axel and Axeon for the 2016 season. His commitment to youth development and the team's investment in the future of cycling aligns perfectly with our business goals. We look forward to supporting the team and being part of a successful 2016 season."
The Axeon Cycling Team is currently competing in the USA Pro Challenge, a seven-day UCI 2.HC event in Colorado. Earlier this month, Axeon won a stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah with Logan Owen, as well as the "king of the mountains" classification with Gregory Daniel. Among the team's nine victories this year is Ruben Guerreiro winning a stage and overall title at Trofeu Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina in Portugal in March, James Oram's victory in the Under 23 New Zealand national time trial championships, Keegan Swirbul's U23 national title in the USA Cycling Under 23 road race and Daniel Eaton's national title in the USA Cycling Under 23 time trial championships.
The Axeon Cycling Team will continue to be registered in the United States, Merckx said, meaning 60 percent of the 2016 roster will be Americans. This year's roster includes riders from Great Britain, New Zealand, and Portugal.