While cycling in North America is largely followed by fans who also ride, it has a much broader appeal in Europe. This leads brands that have little to do with the sport to sponsor some of the peloton’s biggest stars, often with hilarious outcomes. While their riding may appear effortless, off the bike the transition from racer to spokesperson can be a bit more awkward.
From Mark Cavendish looking truly uncomfortable while announcing American Pistachios as his official snack back in 2013, to Peter Sagan’s entertaining cinematic efforts, here’s six of our favourite off-beat endorsements from the world of pro cycling:
Katie Compton loves potatoes
Potatoes are great as a pre-workout snack. They’re more energy dense than other popular vegetables and provide the carbs, potassium and energy you need for long endurance events. Real Food. Real Performance. #whatareyoueating #potatoesfuelyou #ad pic.twitter.com/myb2pIPzma
— Katie Compton (@KatieFnCompton) February 19, 2019
Katie Compton has been touting the wide ranging benefits of potatoes recently. It’s part of a campaign by Potatoes USA to rebrand the spud as a sport fuel, and part of a healthy diet. They’re probably hoping Compton’s deep roots in American cycling, and sponsor Trek’s Wisconsin base, will translate to more potatoes in jersey pockets this summer.
Peter Sagan – You’re the One that I Want
Sagan is the king of off-beat product promotions. He’s posed naked in the shower for Hansgroe U.S.’s “Shower like a pro” campaign and stuffed gummie bears in his mouth in a post-race unpaid promotion for Haribo. It’s his growing body of work for Sunroot to the various “Life is a Movie” sketches for Sunroot that stand out. His acting has matured from a stilted performance in “Breakfast with Peter Sagan” to the cinematic marvel of his “Life is a Movie” campaigns. It’s his breakout performance in Grease, though, that will always remain in our hearts.
Marcel Kittel – Fight for your Hair
Alpacin has done an impressive job of grabbing attention for its caffeine-infused shampoo through cycling sponsorships, despite joining the sport well after the UCI-imposed mandatory helmet rule concealed the coifs of our favourite stars. The “doping for your hair” campaign has matured from a deliberately provocative start, signing disgraced pro Jan Ullrich the day before he was handed a two year ban for blood doping, to kitschy and funny in the Marcel Kittel era. The “Fight for your Hair” ad is the standout performance of the big German sprinter, but the spin-off series “2 minutes at the hairdresser” brings the rest of Alpecin Cycling team in on the awkward and endearing gig.
Jolanda Neff delivers snacks as Samichlaus
As one of the most prominent and successful mountain bikers currently racing, its not surprising Jolanda Neff has a long list of personal sponsors beyond her new home at Trek Factory Racing. Tissot watches, European resorts, and an array of cycling brands support the cycling star. It’s her frequent snack stops, often holiday themed, for Swiss cookie and cracker brand Roland that stand out the most.
Vincenzo Nibali and Ivan Basso prepping a delicious Sidi
Sidi isn’t a weird sponsor for two pro cyclists, no. The Italian shoe brand has been making race shoes for decades. But the ad is weird. The two Italian riders get busy in the kitchen with some wholly unappetizing prep work on what looks like a shoe omelette. The end product still looks nice, but let’s hope the actual manufacturing process involved fewer eggs and frying pans.
Lex Albrecht – Veostrip
Canadian national team road racer Lex Albrecht really likes Veostrips. The Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank rider frequently posts photos of herself sporting various colours of the sweat diverting strips. UAE Emirates’ Tom Bohi, Sam Brand of Novo Nordisk Pro Cycling and several members of the Israel Cycling Academy team also rep the brand. They usually opt for the less visible clear colour option, while Albrecht goes all-in on the brightly coloured options.