Friday, September 21, 2012

Team Lampre: Goodbye to Wilier, Hello to Merida

This surprised me! Press release:

MERIDA enters the UCI World Tour

Merida Europe GmbH is pleased to announce its commitment to the UCI WorldTour as per January 1st 2013. With the UCI ProTeam Lampre a both likeable and successfully established team has agreed to be supplied with MERIDA’s high-end equipment for the next three seasons and to compete under the official name “Team Lampre-MERIDA”. With the MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM, Taiwan’s second-largest bicycle manufacturer has been supporting one of the world’s most successful mountain bike racing teams since 2004; entering the UCI WorldTour thus was a long-awaited and logical next step in order to get the best showcase possible for the brand’s premium road products as well.

As per 2013, the new Team Lampre-MERIDA will be competing on state-of-the-art equipment: The SCULTURA SL is setting benchmarks in terms of stiffness, agility and vertical compliance, thus making sure that the Team Lampre-MERIDA can participate not only at the big races such as the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a Espana and the Tour de France with legitimate aspirations. On top of that, early in 2013 a time trial bike that has been developed from scratch to meet the demands of time trialling with the world’s elite is going to be presented. More team bikes tailor-made to suit the needs for cobble-stone classics such as Paris-Roubaix or particularly aerodynamic models for long escapes and building a lead-out train for a sprinter are going to be presented throughout the next year.

MERIDA is the private brand of Merida Industry Co., Ltd, Taiwan’s second-largest bicycle manufacturer. The company had been founded in 1972 by Ike D.H. Tseng in Yuanlin, Taiwan. After the founder’s death in January 2012, his son Michael Tseng took over. At its three production facilities in Yuanlin, Shenzen and Shandong (the latter two based in the People’s Republic of China), about 3500 employees produce about 2.5 million bicycles per year that are being distributed in 70 countries around the world. MERIDA’s world-wide workforce sums up to about 52.000 people. Ever since 2004, MERIDA has been participating in international competitions with great success with the “MULTIVAN MERIDA BIKING TEAM”, a team that has Olympic and World champions in its line-up with riders such as Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja, Ralph Näf and José Hermida.

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  1. Sad. Seems these days the bike industry must provide more funding to keep pro teams alive, as few other sponsors are interested in being associated with the dope-infested pro sport. The result is only the big, high profit-margin operations (doesn't Merida own a large part of that S company?)can pony up the cash to get the teams to use their bikes. It's certainly NOT the case of the best bicycle getting the nod from the pro team, it's the bicycle company with the deepest pockets. Same thing happened not-too-long ago with Merckx and a few years before that with Time - in both instances bike brands who could write the big checks got the endorsement by simply buying the teams off the brand they'd been using. This will get worse before it gets better. Larry fears Campagnolo will soon become a victim of the same economic forces as the big S rivals simply buy the teams away from them more and more.

  2. Wow! I couldn't even load the Merida website to look at their road bikes.

  3. Larry and Heather, i think it is more a case of the quality of high end road bikes, regardless of manufacturing company, being fairly comparable, where in the era you refer to, carbon tech still had a way to go and the boutique brands had the R&D on the up and comers. I dont think this move has watered down the sport of cycling in any way. However, it now appeals to a slightly broader amount of potential viewers as people who own bikes from the cheaper brands can now feel more of a link to what happens in the tours.