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Fans of World Cup racing know that riders change teams about as frequently as lines shift on a downhill course. And sponsors come and go like chairs on a lift. In the off-season, guessing which racers will swap teams, and what companies will supply parts to those teams, has practically become its own sport. But few expected that the Santa Cruz Syndicate World Cup downhill team and longtime sponsor SRAM would part ways.
SRAM had been a key partner in the team since it was formed in 2004. The Syndicate quickly became a powerhouse, winning 13 World Cup races, two UCI World Cup overall titles, a world championship, and a junior world championship. For the past three years, the Syndicate has consisted of downhillers Greg Minnaar, Steve Peat, and Josh Bryceland. Freerider Jamie Goldman and endurance racer John Waddell are also part of the team.
But today, Santa Cruz announced that the SRAM family of brands, which also includes RockShox, Avid, and Truvativ, would no longer be a Syndicate sponsor.
Steve Peat, the 2009 world champion, started racing for RockShox even before joining the Syndicate. “Leaving SRAM is a tough one for me. I have been with RockShox for 16 years, so you could say the brand is engraved in me,” he said. “But like most things in life, nothing lasts forever and it has been a great time over the last 16 years.”
While the partnership has delivered plenty of victories, the relationship seemed to erode of late. Neither company is saying what drove the brands apart. It may have been a simple financial decision, but a look at Santa Cruz’s 2012 bike line reveals very few SRAM, RockShox, Truvativ, or Avid parts. Some of the most popular models, like the Blur LT carbon, aren’t even offered with a SRAM drivetrain. That’s quite a change from just a few years ago when nearly ever Santa Cruz bike had at least one SRAM-equipped option.
Whatever happened, Santa Cruz owner Rob Roskopp still praises the component and suspension maker for its contribution to the Syndicate team. “Our partnership with SRAM over the years saw many milestones achieved: Steve Peat’s 2009 world championship in Canberra, Greg Minnaar’s win at Maribor in 2010 aboard the first carbon bike to take a World Cup win, and countless podiums over the last 8 years,” he said. “I would like to thank the whole crew at SRAM for the great memories and support.”
The Syndicate expects to announce new drivetrain, suspension, and component sponsors in the coming days.