“F*****g SRAM,” yelled Bauke Mollema, midway through the 2019 Giro d’Italia, as his SRAM equipped bike failed to comply with a simple gear change. Not the strong brand message SRAM are looking for, methinks, but rather a glorious and un-varnished truth from the mouth of an ambassador.
And I, for one, was all over this.
I love a bit of glorious, unvarnished truth. Undermines the carefully crafted R&D. Puts the marketing men right in their place.
Top athletes, of course, use equipment provided by a supplier. They get some cash, and ideally some decent equipment to use, and they become an ambassador for the brand. It’s very simple. Most of western society, well trained and obedient consumers that we are, understand this.
The well-behaved tedium of this relationship bores me to tears.
And also, for every media-trained, brand aware sportsperson who smiles for the sponsors and delivers an on-message post-race/match interview in lieu of saying something human, a puppy is sacrificed by Jeff Bezos.
In this context, Mollema is a hero of our times.
As is Rohan “I’m outta here” Dennis, Australian Individual Time Trial World Champion for 2019 and BMC bikes brand ambassador. His team, of course, being Bahrain Merida. Bahrain, as in horrid middle-eastern regime, and Merida, as in bike manufacturers Merida. As in not BMC.
Puppies 1, Bezos 0.Embed from Getty Images
There’s a bit of back story here.
Dennis downed tools in the Tour de France of 2019 on the stage prior to the Individual Time Trial. The Time Trial that, to say the least, had his name written all over it; as close to a Tour de France stage win in the bag as you can get.
But, depending on which tittle you tattle, he wasn’t happy with his kit, wasn’t happy with his bike, wasn’t happy with his team…look, he just wasn’t happy. This much we know.
Julian Alaphilippe stepped manfully and flamboyantly into the breach to win the Time Trial, and Rohan Dennis went to ground, to return at the World Champs in Yorkshire, muller the opposition, and reclaim his TT crown.
On a plain black bike with which looked suspiciously like an unbranded BMC Time Machine and even more suspiciously not like a Merida Time Warp (Jesus…who’s naming these bikes?). So off-brand it was a different brand. Bauke Mollema applauding, open mouthed, at the audacity. Puppies, as we speak, swarming the offices of Amazon in a mass bid for freedom.
Dennis tapped his helmet as he crossed the finishing line to make absolutely sure we’d spotted the Kask helmet atop his bonce in lieu of the team issue Rudy Project version.
A little jab to the ribs of the corporate money-men? Oh yes.
SRAM, meanwhile, are patching things up with Mollema and embracing their new hashtag friendly marketing strapline: “Precision engineered for the pro peloton: F*****g SRAM”
(Top Image: Granada [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D)