Mercedes-Benz 'takes ownership' of mountain bike discipline
By Jonathan Rest
Mercedes-Benz, the German car giant, today signed a significant deal with the UCI, cycling's world governing body, to effectively take ownership of sponsorship of the mountain bike discipline.
Under the terms of the three-year deal to 2020, Mercedes-Benz Vans will be presenting sponsor of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and title sponsor of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
In addition, the German brand will work alongside organisers of UCI World Championships and rounds of the UCI World Cup series across all disciplines by providing a fleet of latest additions to its range of X-Class pickups to help with the course preparation, as well as multi-purpose vehicles to provide shuttle services.
Mercedes-Benz Vans said that, in order to support the global launch of the X-Class, it had been looking to increase its presence within outdoor sports.
David Lappartient, UCI president, said: "This partnership provides an excellent opportunity for us to accelerate the development of mountain bike, one of our flagship disciplines. Our events will benefit from the brand's global reputation and knowledge.
"That a manufacturer of the calibre of Mercedes-Benz has chosen to invest in cycling is evidence that our sport is attractive to major economic players, who select our events to launch their new products. We are delighted with the trust shown by Mercedes-Benz in our federation, our discipline, and our major events."
Sportcal understands that Mercedes-Benz will be considered a top-tier mountain bike partner, but not as one of the UCI's World Cycling Partners, a category that was introduced in February 2016 following an overhaul of the federation's sponsorship structure.
In October 2016, Tissot became the first World Cycling Partner, signing a four-year deal to be title sponsor of the Track World Cup and presenting partner of the Track World Championships.
Unlike Mercedes-Benz, however, Tissot is also active across all UCI events and disciplines as the exclusive official timekeeper.
The UCI remains in the market for World Cycling Partners for the road and BMX categories.
The BMX partner will, like Tissot, be expected to pay around SFr1.5 million ($1.52 million) per year, while the road cycling partner will be asked to pay SFr2 million a year to be associated with the highest-profile and therefore the most ‘expensive’ of the disciplines.
Explaining the new sponsorship model to Sportcal at the time, Cyrille Jacobsen, the UCI’s head of marketing, said: “As the name says, it’s going to be for international or global brands willing to embrace cycling in all its forms.
“They will have the opportunity to activate across all 55 events a year: World Cups and all World Championships in all disciplines including the four Olympic disciplines and non-Olympic disciplines like cyclo-cross. Their product categories will be protected at every event.”