Every few years when contracts end, the cycling WorldTour experiences a veritable merry-go-round of equipment sponsorship changes driven by a number of motives such as money (of course), product innovation and changes in team ownership.
For example, in 2019 BMC Racing became CCC Team and switched to Giant, Team Sunweb moved from Giant to Cervélo and Dimension Data signed with BMC. This year sees a similar triangular upheaval involving Bianchi, Cervélo and Scott. Mitchelton-Scott will become GreenEdge Cycling, which is the name of the team’s operating company, and switch to Bianchi bikes. Jumbo-Visma will leave Bianchi and ride bikes from Cervélo while Team Sunweb rebrands to Team DSM, ending its partnership with Cervélo and leaving an opening for Scott to step through.
But that’s not all. French team AG2R Citroën hops off Eddy Merckx bikes in favour of Swiss company BMC. That’s good news for the team’s new signing, Greg Van Avermaet, who has enjoyed great success with the company’s carbon-fibre bikes. “I’ve won Paris-Roubaix, the Rio Olympics and all my major victories on the BMC Teammachine SLR01,” he said. “The AG2R Citroën Team project was very attractive to me for various reasons and the chance to ride BMC again eventually made my decision an easy one to take.”
The contract runs from 2021 to 2023 and three BMC road bikes have been confirmed for training and racing duty: Teammachine SLR01, the Timemachine Road and the Timemachine. This means that Eddy Merckx’s bikes leave the 2021 WorldTour and BMC’s presence in the peloton grows from one team to two as it is currently in the last year of a three-year deal with Doug Ryder’s South African outfit, which was recently renamed Qhubeka-Assos after NTT Pro Cycling left the team.
🔔 ANNOUNCEMENT 🔔
Team Qhubeka ASSOS is excited to present its UCI continental feeder team, which will race as Team Qhubeka in 2021!
🇿🇦 🇪🇷 🇪🇹 🇷🇼 🇮🇹 🇳🇿
— Team Qhubeka ASSOS (@QhubekaAssos) December 4, 2020
In addition, Want You Cycling, the company behind the Circus-Wanty Gobert team (that will be known in 2021 as Intermarché Wanty Gobert) has taken over Continuum Sports, the operating company behind the CCC Team, after CCC said it would be leaving the sport due to financial pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Belgian company will step into the team’s sponsorship and bring Cube Bikes into the WorldTour for the first time in the company’s history.
As a result, 2021 will be the first season without a Giant bicycle in the pro peloton since the turn of the millennium, a big blow for the world’s largest bike manufacturer.
In terms of computers, Garmin remains the WorldTour champ with nine teams confirmed to use its technology this year. However, Atlanta-based Wahoo continues to attract pro cycling teams, adding two for a total of five.
The two teams that used SRM computers in 2020 have changed, with Lotto-Soudal moving to Garmin and Cofidis choosing Wahoo. Team DSM also switched to Wahoo but from Sigma computers.
Four teams have not yet confirmed their computer brands for 2021 so it’s possible that SRM, Sigma and Stages will retain a presence in the WorldTour but it remains to be seen for what teams. One of those teams could be Chris Froome’s Israel Start-Up Nation whose contract with Bryton was for just one year so a change seems very likely.