“You can have any colour, so long as it’s black,” Henry Ford said of his Model T over a century ago.
This should suit Team Sky down to the ground, as the squad reached the end of its deal with Jaguar and announced they would be travelling in every salesman’s dream car this season – the Ford Mondeo – available at no extra cost in Sky’s very own shade of ‘deathstar’ black – or black, to you and me.
Those handy hooks on the back seat grab handle (what the Urban Dictionary terms the “oh shit handle”) thoughtfully provided to keep Topshop Crimplene suits uncrumpled should prove invaluable to the swannys looking for somewhere to hang their musettes.
But Sky’s image has taken a bit of a battering here. Jaguar gone. Rapha going after this year. What next? McDonald’s supplying nutrition?
The Mondeo is, no doubt, a perfectly fine motor, but having your Jag taken away and being presented with a Ford must be akin to the feeling of having your Pinarello replaced by a Carrera from Halfords. It may be a bike, but it’s not the bike.
Times are hard, mind you, and beggars can’t be choosers. Trying to find suitably classy sponsors in these economically challenging times is no easy ride.
Imagine being in a break with an Etixx-Quick Step rider this year and having to stare at a yellow Lidl logo, emblazoned across his butt cheeks, for hours on end. It’s poles apart from subliminal advertising – and more of a bum wrap. You’d finish the race, then rush off to the nearest store, returning an hour later with a chainsaw and an extendable ladder, instead of the baked beans you’d set out to buy.
Value for money is what the public wants these days. Pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap. Why should pro bike racing be any different?
The austerity peloton is rapidly approaching, folks. Stop looking down your nose and look out for these sponsors coming to a cycling team near you soon:
Camp Coffee – It’s coffee, Jim, but not as we know it. As drunk by no cyclist ever in the history of two-wheeled sport, this foul chicory-based gloop is long overdue a revival. Look out for a Camp-only coffee emporium opening in Shoreditch this spring.
Pitcairn Lottery – The South Pacific island (population 56) needs a shot in the arm for its fundraising lottery, which supports local athlete Benjamin Thrust in his goal to represent his birthplace at the Olympics in the little-known sport of tortoise-tossing. What better way to raise the floundering fund (current rollover jackpot: £7.53) than on the world stage of pro cycling?
Cash Converters – The perfect fit for the team on a budget. Struggling to pay the riders’ wages this month? Hotel in Mallorca pushing for cash up front before that training camp? Hand over the spare bikes at the nearest branch and walk out with a fat wedge of notes in your pocket minutes later. What could possibly go wrong?
STAT’S THE WAY, UH HUH, UH HUH
2018 – Chris Froome’s contract extension with Sky runs until.
1 – year left on Geraint Thomas’ deal at Sky…
Now, that’s what we call a team car. The Volvo 140 in Molteni livery.
2.0-litre TDCi diesel, 6-speed PowerShift automatic transmission… Are you still awake?
As if we need an excuse to include some Bowie.