2012 was an exciting year for women’s bike racing but as the highs of the Olympics and World Championships wear off, many riders find themselves wondering where or if they’ll be racing next season.
Among the various teams rumored to fold at the end of the season is the Texas-based FCS/Rouse Women’s Elite Team.
The FCS Women's Elite Team merged with Rouse Bicycles Elite Women at the end of 2011 to combine efforts and resources as finances were getting tight.
Yet even with combined resources, the sponsors are withdrawing from women’s cycling at the national level, confirmed Chris Cornetto, owner of Rouse Bicycles yesterday.
"Yes, unfortunately the rumor of the team folding after the 2012 season is true. The decision was based solely on the availability of finances for the 2013 season," Cornetto said in an email to Podium Café.
Cornetto explained that the team had very modest external cash sponsorship for the 2012 season, and in order to complete their commitment to the racers and sponsors, a lot of the team expenses were paid for by personal donations from himself and Lee Whaley, co-chairman of FCS.
"The amount of the donations was to the point that it hindered the growth of both Rouse Bicycles and FCS. That was a position that was not sustainable for 2013," he said. "We know several other women's teams are not returning in 2013. For most sponsors, I think the biggest drawback to investing in women's cycling is the lack of media exposure. That and the constant drug scandals that plague the men's ranks. Hopefully, we will see a few new teams in 2013 to fill the void."
Cornetto said that several of the riders are actively looking for new teams for the 2013 season, and that he is confident that several of them will continue racing on the National level.
"We are sad that we will not continue with the team in 2013 because we are committed to the progression of women's cycling. We are proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short time," Cornetto said. "We hope to be involved in the sponsorship of a women's team in the future once the Rouse Bicycles' business is in a better position to support the investment."