Uplace and BMC Switzerland introduce 2014-2015 international pro triathlon team in Kona

Uplace BMC Triathlon Team

(Photo: Bert Stephani)

Uplace and BMC Switzerland have introduced the 2014-2015 Uplace BMC Pro Triathlon Team in Kona, Hawaii, ahead of the Ironman World Championship. Seven top iron-distance specialists have already been confirmed including Sofie Goos, Tine Deckers, Bart Aernouts, Bruno Clerbout, Bert Jammaer and Axel Zeebroek.

With its organizational structure fully set up and the support of big name sponsors, the new team aims high right from the start. “With seven European Ironman winners already confirmed and more to be added, everything is in place to become the most successful pro team in long distance triathlon,” says team manager Bob De Wolf.

Two success stories coming together
In 2008, the Belgian lifestyle real estate group Uplace started its triathlon sponsoring. This led in 2010 to the creation of the all-Belgian Uplace Pro Triathlon Team. Uplace chairman Bart Verhaeghe explained how the team approach was critical in helping Belgian triathlon maintain a leading position in a sport that is rapidly professionalizing: “In today’s triathlon, there is only room for athletes who can focus 100 percent on their sport and who can work in a fully professional structure with the best possible support. A team approach is the only way to achieve that.” Uplace athletes Sofie Goos, Tine Deckers, Bart Aernouts, Bruno Clerbout, Bert Jammaer and Axel Zeebroek have underscored his point, winning 12 Ironman races and another 19 Ironman top-three finishes since 2011.

Andy Rihs, chairman and co-owner of BMC Switzerland, also agreed: “Triathlon will become a team sport, it is only a question of time.” BMC Switzerland is a long-established name in the cycling industry with three brands –BMC, Stromer and Bergamont – and an annual turnover CHF 160 million. The company has an extensive track record in team cycling with the BMC Racing Team and the BMC MTB Team. In triathlon, BMC Switzerland has sponsored individual athletes until now. “With the Uplace BMC Pro Triathlon Team, we make a big step forward here to lift the sport to a new level. We are not reinventing the wheel but we bring knowhow from other sports and science to this young amazing sport. Adding excellence in management to top equipment used by the right athletes is our formula. We are excited that we can make this happen in triathlon together with Uplace,” added BMC Switzerland CEO Thomas Bingelli.

In January 2013, Uplace and BMC Switzerland announced their intention to develop an international triathlon team, based on the success of the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team and a shared belief in the team approach in professional triathlon. In May, this intention was formalized in a 2014-2015 team project. Two days before the 2013 Ironman Hawaii, the Uplace BMC Pro Triathlon Team introduced its bold black/red identity, a complete organizational structure and ambitious goals.

Fully operational structure
Uplace and BMC Switzerland have committed for a minimum of two years with a clear intention to continue afterwards. Owner and name sponsor Uplace will continue to provide its knowhow and expertise in athletic development and take care of the day-to-day management and operational running of the team. The team is based on five pillars – operational, marketing, athletic, bike mechanic and medical – working together to provide the athletes and their coaches fully professional support.

This operational structure, led by team manager Bob De Wolf and headquartered in Belgium, is already operational today in order to ensure a smooth January 2014 launch. Co-sponsor BMC Switzerland will deliver race and training bikes, on-site race support, and research and development to optimize quality and integrity of the bike performance.

Ambitious goals
The Uplace BMC Pro Triathlon Team is straightforward in its ambitions. It wants to be the most successful pro team in 2014 and 2015. Team manager Bob De Wolf clarifies: “This means that all of our athletes should qualify for and be competitive in the WC Ironman in Hawaii and/or the WC Ironman 70.3. The ultimate goal is to win the Ironman Hawaii. Throughout the season, the team aims for victories in Ironman, Challenge and other key long distance races. We want to be the best team in the world and we want measure this in results: we want to win.”

Athletes
The Uplace BMC Pro Triathlon Team has the athlete line-up to support these ambitions. Seven top triathletes are confirmed already. The team will be predominately European-focused with athletes from the Benelux, Switzerland, Germany, UK, Scandinavia and France. Together, these athletes have already accrued 18 Ironman titles, 37 Ironman podium spots and four top-10 finishes in the Ironman Hawaii. De Wolf expects more athletes to be added to the line-up. All names will be announced during the 2014 team presentation early next year.

Big name partners
A number of top-level material partners will support the Uplace BMC Pro Triathlon Team. Naturally, the BMC Time Machine TM01 time trial bike will be the team bike. Additional material support comes from top name brands: Shimano Pro bike components, Pearl Izumi sports apparel, Lululemon casual clothing, Continental tubulars, Tacx bike trainers, f’izi:k saddles, Sailfish wetsuits, Bakala Academy sports-scientific support, and Assumax insurance. “This list will grow in the coming weeks. Since launching our project in May, we have found that our team story, with its optimal visibility and return on investment, is very compelling for sponsors,” concluded De Wolf.

See the rest of our 2013 Ironman World Championship coverage here. We’ll be updating regularly in the run up to Kona.