Trek Bicycle Corp. president John Burke announced Trek’s intention to end its 13-year partnership with Greg LeMond and his LeMond bicycle brand, during an employee meeting in its Waterloo, Wisconsin world headquarters.
Trek has filed suit in Federal Court in Madison, Wisconsin, to sever the company’s ongoing relationship with three-time Tour de France winner. This counters LeMond serving Trek with a 41-page suit on March 20, 2008, to be filed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both suits reference former Tour de France winner and Trek-sponsored athlete Lance Armstrong in detail.
“Trek’s spectacle today is a move to distract from the real allegations that are contained in Mr. LeMond’s lawsuit against Trek,” said Denise S. Rahne, LeMond’s attorney. “Mr. LeMond served Trek with a lawsuit in March. Mr. LeMond stands by his complaint. The allegations, which Trek has elected to make public, speak for themselves. Mr. LeMond has been and continues to be an outspoken critic of doping in professional cycling, which should be consistent with what Trek touts as ‘family values.’ Mr. LeMond looks forward to proving his allegations in court, not in the media, despite the many inflammatory and inaccurate statements that Trek made today.”
The action filed by Trek Bicycle Corporation against Greg LeMond asks the court for declaratory judgment against LeMond and asks that the relationship be terminated due to multiple breaches of the contract. The breach of contract claims are based on LeMond’s ongoing pattern of public statements and actions which Trek believes have continued to be detrimental to the Trek-licensed LeMond Racing Cycles name and trademark, to the Trek brand as a whole, and to the Trek reputation in the global bicycle market.
“Beginning in 1995 we had high hopes for the LeMond partnership,” said Burke. “And I am sorry it has come to this after so much hard work on the LeMond brand. But this troubling pattern of inconsistent business dealings forced us to do this, for the sake of the Trek family—our retailers, employees and customers.”
At the employee meeting, Burke presented a timeline of the Trek business relationship with LeMond and the development of the LeMond brand.
Before Lance Armstrong: 1995 – 1999
Trek Bicycle Corporation began its business relationship with LeMond in 1995 and, since then, has produced the LeMond Racing Cycles brand of road bikes. In 1999, the LeMond line was one of the fastest growing road bike brands and one of the top five largest road bike brands in the United States. Sales from this period went from $0 to US$9.5 million, with a reported 700 LeMond dealers.
The presentation highlighted the ongoing issues with the relationship, its impact on the LeMond and Trek brands and the reasons for the decision to sever the relationship.
“For years, Trek has tried our best to make this relationship work,” Burke said. “And for years, Greg LeMond has done and said things that have damaged the LeMond brand and the Trek brand as a whole,” said Burke. “His actions are inconsistent with our values—values we believe in and live everyday. And after years of trying to make it work, we are done. It’s time to sever this relationship and allow Trek to do what it does best—build the world’s greatest bicycles and provide our customers with a great product and exceptional customer service.”
Burke told reporters that Trek plans to honor all LeMond warranties, and will stick behind every product it made under the LeMond name. For a entensive look into Greg LeMond’s career and his views on the current pro peloton, read Procycling’s January 2008 issue, number 107.
Armstrong is opening a bike shop in Austin,Texas this spring. LeMond commented on his positive relationship with Trek founder, the late Dick Burke, in various news reports following his death in early March; nothing was heard from Armstrong, a seven-time Tour winner and Trek-sponsored athlete from 1999 – 2005.
To read documents published on Trek’s website, go to http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/company/media. To read Gary Boulanger’s blog, go to http://www.bikeradar.com/blogs/article/he-said-she-said-trek-greg-and-lance-15717