When Garmin-Barracuda’s Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro d’Italia, one of the first reactions here at Twisted Spoke was “Those bozos at Big Mat sure blew it.”
The French construction materials company was a signature away from signing on as the secondary sponsor of the Garmin squad this season. But at the last possible nano-second they pulled out, changed their mind and instead hooked up with the under-performing Francaise des Jeux. C’est pas bon, ca!
There’s something wonderfully ironic about rolling the dice with a team sponsored by the French Lottery. Based on the performance of Garmin and FDJ at this point in the season, you’d have to conclude that Big Mat made the wrong call — un vrai catastrophe!
A quick look at the wiki for both teams shows that so far in 2012 Garmin-Barracuda has won 13 races to FDJ’s 10 victories. But when you compare the quality of the wins, Garmin Barracuda has seriously over-delivered for their sponsors. The team busted out of the gate fast with wins in Qatar and Langkawi, then Sep Vanmarcke won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Hesjedal stunned his Italian rivals in a historic and thrilling Giro d’Italia.
Back in the states, Jonathan Vaughters’ squad was just as successful pumping out the media impressions. Dave Zabriskie and Tom Danielson finished second and third in the Tour of California and a week later Zabriskie would win the US time trial championship. Right now the head marketing guy at Barracuda looks like a genius and the argyle army hasn’t even hit Le Tour yet. (Surely Big Mat remembers how well Garmin performed in the 2011 Tour.)
Meanwhile chez FDJ, the wins have been much lower profile and mainly restricted to races in France. Now granted, Big Mat is a French company but the quality of the media exposure again puts Garmin and Barracuda way ahead. There’s value in Remi Pauriol winning Les Boucles du Sud Ardeche but how much more thrilled would Big Mat have been to see their name every day on Hesjedal’s jersey?
You have to respect a French company wishing to support and nurture French cycling. Chapeau and all that. However, le business is le business. Twisted Spoke is guessing that Big Mat is kicking itself right now.