Canadian Cycling Team Symmetrics Feels Financial Heat
One of the best stories in Canadian Cycling from 2007 may become one of the most unfortunate in 2008. After a phenomenal showing last year, including Svein Tuft winning the overall UCI America Tour. The team is losing many of its sponsors this year as large companies turn their sponsorship dollars to the 2010 winter olympics to be held in Vancouver. This leaves the all-Canadian team looking for sponsors to keep a succesful and highly competitive team together after the Olympics this summer through the end of the year.
There is no doubt that the results secured over the past couple of years will have left most of the riders in a good position to find a ride for next season, but the loss of the team would be a blow to Canadian cycling - as will surely be made evident by the number of Symmetrics riders likely to be on the upcoming Olympic team.
Symmetrics feeling financial pinch
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
An article last week in the British Columbia newspaper The Province reported that the Canadian continental Symmetrics team is currently undergoing financial woes due to sponsors pulling out, affecting the team's plans for this season that could result in the team dissolving after its fifth year of existence. The paper reported that Coast Capital, B.C. Hydro PowerSmart and FarmPure have all ended their sponsorships. Members of the team told Cyclingnews that the current budget would only last until mid-June, when the Canadian Cycling Association will choose the Beijing Olympic team, unless a new sponsor is secured.
Team co-owner Mark Cunningham, who owns the team with his brother Kevin, told Cyclingnews that the all-Canadian rider team supported by Canadian companies is hurting from the weak U.S. dollar. "What has happened is the Canadian dollar has gotten really strong so it affected Canadian business and their sponsorship," he said. The Cunningham family owns one of the supporting sponsors that makes plywood, and the bursting bubble of the U.S. housing market has taken its toll. As a result the team has significantly reduced its budget from $1 million to $650,000 for 2008, despite remaining sponsors increasing their commitments.
Subsequently the team has curtailed many plans for the season, including a major trip to Europe to compete in four UCI races. The invitation came after the team rode strong at the Vuelta a Chihuahua In Mexico last October. The Spanish promoter offered to cover all of the racing expenses for the team – but with a slashed budget, the team could not afford the airfare.