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Volkswagen emissions controversy could leave USA Cycling flatted

It's not often that the fortunes of the automotive industry have an impact on pro cycling, but in the case of Volkswagen and its ongoing -- and very publicly damaging -- emissions crisis, there well may be.

Usacycling-logoIt’s not often that the fortunes of the automotive industry have an impact on pro cycling, but in the case of Volkswagen and its ongoing — and very publicly damaging — emissions crisis, there well may be. And it could have a serious effect on cycling south of the border.

The question hangs ominously over USA Cycling, which would suddenly find itself without vital sponsorship if Volkswagen opts to discontinue their partnership. This, of course, is the year that their contract expires and comes up for renewal, and as USA Cycling’s biggest partner by far, the national American cycling authority would be left in a funding panic if that doesn’t happen.

Decisions on that front, reports say, will be coming in November.

“We’re not in a good spot, obviously,” USA Cycling sponsorship manager David Gillespie told Business Insider. “If they don’t renew, we’re going to be scrambling to offset that sponsorship among other categories. But we’re going to stand by Volkswagen and help them get through this period.”

Despite the optics of the controversy and the automotive brand’s role in it, any loss of Volkwagen’s sponsorship would be felt deeply at many of USA Cycling’s events, in particular. The company’s name appears on the marquee of races like the Volkwagen USA Cycling Professional Criterium and Team Time Trial National Championships and the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road, Time Trial and Paracycling National Championships.

USA Cycling’s relationship with Volkwagen, though, could help repair the company’s image, Gillespie said.

“There’s a lot of damage right now, but the partnership with USA Cycling can only help repair that. It is questionable what they did, but for us, as a company Volkswagen still resonates with our brand, and it’s one of the top car brands that our members use.”