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GreenEdge, Australia’s first UCI Pro Tour team, announced last week its new sponsor: Orica. Like Slipstream or High Road, GreenEdge were running under the name of the team owners and not a sponsor but have now followed suit. Slipstream eventually took the sponsor Garmin, HighRoad became Columbia and HTC.

Is it a win win situation with Orica coming on board?

But GreenEdge have taken some slack recently due to the sponsor they’ve shacked up with. Orica’s an Australian company that specialises in chemicals, mining services and explosives. The company isn’t just Australian based though,  it has offices and business on a global scale too. This will be another factor why they came in to the sport.

Orica have put in an undisclosed sum into the team to sponsor them for the next three years, keeping not just the men’s team up and running in the major races for the forcible future, but also the women’s team too. Goss, Gerrans, Turbo Durbo, Judith Arndt, Stewie and the rest of the team will not need to worry about where their next pay cheque is coming from.  On top of this the GreenEdge owners have said they are talking to smaller sub sponsors too. Let’s hope they secure some additional funding.

With other teams withering, cutting back or ceasing to exist due to lack of sponsorship in the current economic climate, it’s a tough decision to call whether it’s a good or a bad thing that GreenEdge took on such a sponsor. Highroad folded due to not being able to find a sponsor last year and they had some of the best cyclists in the peloton on their roster. Was it a case of sponsors not being interested in the sport and seeing it as a waste of money for publicising its business; or was it a case of the wages of the star rides forcing the budget too high for a sponsor?

The sponsorship deal clearly has its pros and cons. Firstly it’s great to see a new sponsor come into the sport and consider it as a platform that they can promote and advertise their business. I’d even predict that, like the British sponsor Sky, Orica will be wanting to improve its image by investing in grass roots cycling in Australia. Will we see events like the UK Sky rides for families or Orica sponsored local crit series? Possibly, but only time will tell.

Even though the team said they had enough funding to keep the team up and running via the very passionate and thankfully rich business man Gerry Ryan, it’s always more secure to have a solid sponsor on board.

Plus, for the team to pick up a strong and financially sound company in its first year of racing is a sign that the sport is clearly growing in Australia in the public eye.

The flip side to the coin is that GreenEdge is promoting a business that is viewed as damaging the earth by accepting the sponsorship from Orica.

Orica has been known to have some major slip ups with pollution and damage to local areas where they mine. Not as “green” or earth loving as cycling is seen as by some. Is it a good thing that a company like this sponsors a sport that is seen as healthy and green?

I for one hope and can see Orica using cycling and the team to try to change the current attitude and view of the general public towards its business.

Historically we’ve seen sponsors that are just as controversial but they haven’t seemed to have kicked up as much bad publicity when announcing sponsorship. Astana and Katusha are both partially sponsored by gas companies and Shell has sponsored teams in the past, and what about Nissan at the RadioShack team.

What’s your view? Should cycling take the money no matter what or should the sport have a social awareness with regards to sponsors? Let us know your views.

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