On Tuesday, Argon 18 announced that it would become one of the title sponsors of a German professional continental team. NetApp-Endura will become Bora-Argon 18 on Jan. 1. The Montreal-based bicycle manufacturer signed a three-year agreement. Its partner makes high-end cooktops and kitchen vents.
“We chose this team because we firmly believe it will confirm our standing as a leading and innovative bike brand on a worldwide scale,” said Gervais Rioux, co-founder of Argon 18. “NetApp-Endura is a pro continental team that comprises some 20 riders and has an impressive international race calendar. With front-runners such as Leopold König, it has been making steady progress since its beginnings. Its seventh place in the general individual classification of this year’s Tour de France is irrefutable proof of this. Now that the team will be riding Argon 18 bikes, we’ll have the best possible allies to help us develop innovative new technologies and, consequently, better products for the team to use.”
Argon 18, which was founded by Rioux and his brother Martin in 1999, signed the contract with the German race team just before this year’s Tour de France. The process, however, actually started in August 2013. Argon 18 approached five teams that Rioux thought would be a good fit. Around November, he had made good progress with NetApp-Endura. Gervais says the team actually approached his company roughly four years ago. At the time, Argon 18 was supplying bikes to the now-defunct Canadian pro continental team SpiderTech. Argon 18 wasn’t able to find a team for 2013. This year, it sponsors the Canadian continental team Silber Pro Cycling and the U.S. continental team Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Maxxis. At the moment, Rioux plans to continue to support Jelly Belly for two more years.
Rioux adds that Argon 18 is now part of a very select group of bike manufacturers with product that can appear in the Tour de France. NetApp-Endura was one of the wildcard picks for this year’s Tour. WorldTour teams, such as Giant-Shimano, Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale, are guaranteed spots in the Tour. Pro continental teams, such as Bretagne–Séché Environnement, Cofidis,
IAM Cycling and NetApp–Endura, rely on invites from race organizers.
“For us, this was a long process,” said Rioux. “We wanted to do it with a creative offer. I can’t stay at home and say, ‘I have a small company. It’s too expensive for us.’ Yes, there is some money involved. It’s not cheap. But we found a way to make it. We built up the foundation to make an offer when the time was right.”
When asked how much money Argon 18 would be sending to the team, Rioux said, “Hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a major investment for us.” Rioux went on to say that he believes such an investment can double sales.
The deal also means Rioux’s company will supply the team with 150 to 200 bikes, every year. These will include such models as the Gallium Pro road bike and the E-118 time trial bike. “We are developing a new category of bike that will be suitable. Of course, we have a special bike for Paris-Roubaix,” said Rioux. “We are ready for the team.” Details for the latter two bike are forthcoming.