If you had any doubt that sportive rides have become a major part of the sporting landscape in the UK, doubt no more. Sports equipment giant adidas is the latest big name to throw its weight behind the sportive movement, with sponsorship of the London-Paris Cycle Tour announced recently.
adidas, the Official Sportswear Partner to London 2012, has signed up to support the event for three years, and will be the official jersey supplier. The deal also brings in British Olympians such as Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy and adidas' 2012 ambassador, rower James Cracknell.
Cracknell has become a keen endurance rider since retiring from rowing, and says he's excited about riding London-Paris alongside another sporting legend, Stephen Roche. The 1987 Tour de France winner and world champion will start in group 1 in his first appearance in the event.
“The whole event looks fantastic, I’m really looking forward to it,” said Cracknell, “Riding with great champions like Stephen, especially on the 21st anniversary of his Tour de France victory, is a privilege but I know I’ll have to train hard and practice my bunch riding!”
For adidas, involvement is about expanding its sponsorship beyond the elite level. “Previously we have had involvement with the professional peloton but it’s key to adidas that we support cycling at the grass routes level too,” said Mark Sinclair, senior sports marketing manager for adidas.
“I rode the event myself last year and was really impressed by its level of professionalism and the creative way it’s structured, we’re very pleased to offer our support to the London-Paris Cycle Tour,” he added.
British Cycling also knows a good thing when it sees one. Its marketing and communications director Simon Lillistone said, “We intend that the London-Paris Cycle Tour will be the flagship event for British Cycling in the rapidly expanding sportive market and we endorse and support it fully as such.”
The London-Paris Cycle Tour leaves Hampton Court Palace on June 26 and after running through Kent to Dover will swing through the north of France to Amiens and finally down toward Paris, finishing at the Eiffel Tower on June 28. Riders cover 600km in four groups from the elite and competitive Group 1 to the relaxed cruising of Group 4. The new adidas jerseys will be awarded to best climber, best sprinter and overall classification winners each day, reflecting the ‘grand tours’ such as the Tour de France.