Desperately seeking sponsors

There was an article in yesterday’s Nice Matin talking about our junior cycling team. Sadly, they are no longer our team. Thanks to our youth team sponsor going out of business, the mayor not ponying up the promised funds and government funding available only for full-time, not part-time, trainers, we had to pull the plug on the project at the end of the season. It’s a real shame, but the good news is that all bar one have migrated to a club in Nice where we’ll be able to keep a close eye on their development. It’s much easier for a large town like Nice, and a club of which the Mayor of Nice is a member, to attract the necessary funding. The most promising junior was snapped up by VC La Pomme in Marseille and we would hope that he’ll eventually be promoted to their continental squad and beyond.

The local Town Hall, while supportive of our ambitions, was cash constrained plus we were in competition with the other local sports teams who have had greater success at a national level. While not all of the club’s members were supportive of our ambitions, many were in favour and share our disappointment at this turn of events. Most of our senior racers have been equally disappointed and have elected to change clubs. They’re a fairly mobile bunch and tend to gravitate to the clubs with the deepest pockets or those willing to cover most of their expenses. It’s not cheap racing every week end, particularly as there’s fewer and fewer races in Alpes Maritimes.

Our senior racers won plenty of podiums and hence garnered the club, and its sponsors, lots of publicity in the local newspapers. Our current arrangements with Skoda are up for renewal and I suspect that they’re not going to be happy at this recent turn of events. M le President is confident that they’ll sign on the dotted line for another 3 years of support, I’m not sure I share his optimism, particularly given the current economic state of affairs. Skoda are not going to pay to have a bunch of old duffers cycling up and down the coast in their colours. Of course, if Skoda don’t renew, there’ll still be plenty of us cycling around in their colours for quite some time to come as we won’t order new shirts until we find a replacement sponsor.

Our ace in the pack is M Le President. As a local business would you want to get on the wrong side of the head honcho down at the fire station? No, I don’t think so.  Unfortunately, neither of the local Skoda concessions are on his turf. As an alternative strategy, we could try and leverage commercial contacts via our membership. However, there are a couple of stumbling blocks. Generally the larger local companies have their own sports associations, including cycling teams. Most of our members work either for the local authorities or said larger companies. Typically, most clubs attract sponsorship from small local companies whose owners are club members. We’re no exception to the rule and have been faithfully sponsored by a number of our members who, as far as I can see, derive little or no economic benefit from the sponsorship, although it is tax deductible.

So, if you don’t have enough money to set up your own Pro-Tour team and fancy seeing your company’s logo paraded around the Cote d’Azur on a daily basis by a bunch of very fit geriatrics, you know who to contact.

Into the box

I spent some time this afternoon sorting through my “Burkina Box”. I have a Swiss friend who worked on a voluntary basis in Burkina Faso where he made the acquaintance of their cycling team. I met some of them too in at the UCI World Road Race Championships in Salzburg.

Far from home

Each month my friend, who is also a keen and very good cyclist, collects his friends’ cycling cast offs, parcels them up and sends them off to his friends in Burkina Faso.

I thought this was a great idea and have decided to help. After all I get a goodie bag from every cyclosportif, brevet or randonée, the contents of which now go straight into the box. In addition, I have recently changed the set up on my Orbea to more closely resemble that of my BMC. So, into the box went handlebars, saddle, pedals, saddle bag and tyres. In fact, it’s embarrassing how much stuff I have amassed in such a short space of time.

The cycling club has recently changed its sponsors from Bouygues Telecom to Skoda, so that’s two sets of kit for the box. Although, I do appreciate  it’s unlikely there’s any African cyclists the same size as my beloved, or me!

No show

According to Sunday’s edition of Nice Matin, 142 hardy souls braved the hail and rain to complete “Les Bosses du Soleil”. I wasn’t one of them. My sister’s flight having been delayed the night before, I got to bed at midnight, well past my preferred deadline. When I awoke at 05:20am, my husband was sleeping soundly (ie dead to the world) and the sky looked grey and stormy. So, I switched off the alarm, rolled over and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. My husband slept until 10:30am. We just went for a long, gentle cycle later that day.

We rose early on Sunday as M Le President had issued a 3-line whip for attendance at the official club photograph held, fittingly, on the steps of the Town Hall with our sponsors (Skoda and Credit Agricole) in attendance.

This is always a bit of a nerve wracking time for me as I try to stand between two people who weigh more than me. Unfortunately, two of the chaps who do were “no shows” but the end result was quite pleasing. You can actually see me this year, standing next to my beloved.

The photo-shoot completed we set off towards the pointage at St Jeannet. The boys had obviously breakfasted on rocket fuel and I was rapidly distanced, not on the climb to Gattieres, but on the small rise out of the industrial estate. I just let them go.

At the pointage in St Jeannet they traditionally serve an anchovy spread on bread. I made the mistake of having some last year and, though it’s delicious, discovered it’s not ideal bike fuel. I love the descent from the old village: no braking required.

I was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon, watching the Critérium du Dauphiné liberé Prologue and reading Vélo magazine’s excellent review of the Tour de France. Le Grand Depart is only 4 weeks away – I can hardly wait.