With the majority of sponsorship coming from European companies, at time as an english speaking fan of the sport we just don’t consider what the team may actually be or even realize the sort of company image it may have in main land Europe or its main territory.
Sometimes when you do find out it what they make, sell or are involved in it comes as a bit of a surprise. But for a sport that has the largest annual sporting event (the Tour) there’s no wonder why some companies see it worthwhile putting their advertisement budget on the chests of 20 odd guys racing around the globe.
In your home country wearing a jersey with one of the main washing powder manufactures on it would look a bit naff, but when the washing powder comes from italy, well then it’s kinda cool.
But over the years there has been some odd sponsors. So I’ve racked my brain a bit to try to remember some slightly more left field sponsors from the years gone by.
Ton Ton Tapis: It’s up there as one of the worst team kits ever, this company was not selling huge cigars or roll ups but carpets. Thinking of this though, Quick Step are in the same boat, laminate flooring.
Predictor-Lotto: Part of the Omega Pharma company, Predictor and that “lovely” pink kit was all in the aid of helping out women across Europe know if they had a bun in the oven or not. Yep Predictor was a pregnancy testing kit!
Silence-Lotto: Again The Omega Pharma sponsored team went with another one of their products rather than just the Omega name that Omega Pharma-Quick Step used, this time Silence was a product to help people out with snoring problems.
Phonak: The green and yellow livery was there to let people who had a hearing problem that Phonak hearing aids were the choice of Floyd Landis and his fellow riders.
Z Team: Greg LeMond and his team had possibly the coolest kit going, a massive cartoon “Z” on their torso made them look like cartoon heroes, but Z is a children’s clothes shop. Still I’m sure the guys got a good deal on bits for their toddlers.
It’s not just the pro teams that are sponsored by some odd companies. Back in 1999- 2002 I rode for a small french amateur team, our main sponsor. A women’s underwear manufacture. I was just glad the team never took a leaf out of the Carrera jeans team from the 80’s who made the kit look like a pair of denim shorts.
Have you been part of a team who’s acquired an odd sponsor or do you have a favourite from the past that I’ve not mentioned? Let us know.