Uplace and BMC Switzerland today announced the 2014 launch of the “Uplace BMC Triathlon Team”. The team, an extension of the all-Belgian Uplace Pro Triathlon Team, will bring together top male and female long distance triathletes. The goal: maximize their talent to achieve Ironman victories and podium spots in the World Championships Ironman. By concentrating its triathlon sponsoring in an unrivalled and ambitious team project, BMC Switzerland significantly increases its involvement in professional triathlon.
In January, Uplace and BMC Switzerland announced their intention to develop a joint international triathlon project. The two companies have since worked out the specifics and have signed off on the scope of the project.
The Uplace BMC Triathlon Team will be one of the biggest projects the world of triathlon has ever seen. Its ambitions are equally substantial. “We will settle for nothing less than Ironman victories and podium spots in the World Championships half and full Ironman in Las Vegas and Hawaii,” explained Team Manager Bob De Wolf. “We want to be the number one in the sport in terms of results, but also a trendsetter in professionalism, athlete development, branding and ultimately, return on investment for sponsors.”
Uplace and BMC Switzerland will be equal partners in the team. Uplace will continue to provide its expertise and know-how in running a professional tri team, as it has successfully done for the past three years with the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team. Uplace will take care of the day-to-day and operational management of the team, including legal, marketing and accounting services. Current Uplace Pro Triathlon Team Manager Bob De Wolf will be Team Manager of the Uplace BMC Triathlon Team. The athletes will enjoy top professional support and advice from a team of international experts.
This fall, the Uplace BMC Triathlon Team will present its branding and full roster of partners. At the start of the 2014 season, the complete athlete line-up will be announced during the official team presentation. “The Uplace BMC Triathlon Team will consist of established top names and high potentials in the sport, both male and female. What they have in common is their potential to win Ironman races. We are currently reaching out to prospective team members and will announce names by the end of the year,” said De Wolf. He went on to add that in the coming months, the team will continue its outreach to and negotiations with potential partners, suppliers and co-sponsors.
The Uplace BMC project brings together two success stories in professional sports. In 2010, the Belgian lifestyle real estate group Uplace was the driving force behind the creation of the only Belgian professional triathlon team at the time. The Uplace Pro Triathlon Team’s mission was to deliver top international results and maximum visibility for its sponsors. “In today’s triathlon, there is only room for athletes who can focus 100% on their sport and who can work in a fully professional structure to guarantee the best possible support. A team approach is the only way to achieve that,” explained Uplace Chairman Bart Verhaeghe.
The goal was to record top Belgian results in international triathlon within two years. Ten Ironman victories and 17 Ironman podium finishes later, that ambitious objective was met. In 2012, the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team was the largest pro team in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and four of its athletes finished in the top 16. “The past three years have proven the success of our professional team approach. As our all-Belgian project becomes an international one, we are excited to lift our approach to the next level, together with BMC Switzerland,” said Verhaeghe.
BMC Switzerland is a long-established name in the cycling industry. With its three brands –BMC, Stromer and Bergamont– the Swiss cycling company has an annual turnover CHF 160 million. The company sells more than 200,000 bikes per year through a product portfolio that spans road bikes, mountain bikes, ebikes, kids’ bikes, city and lifestyle bikes, and dirt and gravity bikes.
The company has an extensive expertise and track record in team cycling with the BMC Racing Team (with 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and 2012 UCI Road World Champion Philippe Gilbert) and the BMC MTB Team (with four-time World Champion Julien Absalon, reigning World Champion Eliminator Ralph Näf and current European Champion Moritz Milatz).
In triathlon, BMC Switzerland currently sponsors individual athletes, including Andreas and Michael Raelert, Ronnie Schildknecht, Sven Riederer, and Laura and Greg Bennett. In addition, it is the title sponsor of the Ironman 70.3 in Rapperswil-Jona. In 2013, BMC also serves as the bike sponsor of the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team.
BMC Switzerland is convinced of the benefits of the team approach in an individual sport such as triathlon: “If we can provide our athletes with the kind of professional support we are used to offering in cycling, they are free to focus on improving and performing. With Uplace, we have found a partner with the expertise to provide that support,” said Thomas Binggeli, CEO and co-owner of BMC Switzerland. He sees an excellent match between BMC Switzerland and Uplace. “Also, Bart Verhaeghe (chairman of Uplace, the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team and Club Brugge football team) and Andy Rihs (owner of BMC Switzerland, the BMC Racing Team, and co-owner of the Young Boys Bern football team) share a passion for sports and the triathlon values of strength, character and persistence.”
Naturally, triathlon constitutes an important market for BMC Switzerland. “Our investments in the BMC Racing Team and the BMC MTB Team have proven to provide strong support for our worldwide dealer network. Triathlon is a rapidly growing sport that has created an important bike market. Even age-group triathletes want the best equipment. After all, a better bike leads to improved training and racing results. It is our goal to give them the best cycling technology on the market,” said Binggeli.
The BMC Time Machine TM01 time trial bike will be the team bike of the Uplace BMC Triathlon Team. “Cadel Evans won the Tour 2011 on that bike and Andreas Raelert broke the world record long distance triathlon with it,” said Steven Jonckheere, Sports Marketing Manager BMC Switzerland. “Naturally, the Uplace BMC Triathlon Team athletes will also enjoy the support of our technical staff and the latest advances in BMC bike technology. Like all BMC professional athletes, the team members will be actively involved in product development. Only the best is good enough for them.”