Subway Drop Naming Rights of New Zealand Professional Cycling Team

By Community | September 3, 2012

Christchurch-based professional cycling Team Subway is on the brink of collapse after its’s main backer pulled out.

The main funder of the team run by Canterbury’s Hayden Godfrey has pulled the pin leaving New Zealand cycling in a precarious position – without a domestic based professional team – unless it can find a new main sponsor.

Not all is lost yet. Yesterday Godfrey, a former world track omnium champion originally from Hokitika, was optimistic a new backer could be found by the end of the year when the fast food franchise officially ends it eight-year relationship with the team.

“But the sponsorship market in New Zealand is tight,” Godfrey acknowledged.

“New Zealand cycling is in a really good place at the moment, in a results sense, but things are more difficult behind the scenes and it would be really sad for New Zealand cycling if we could not have a fully funded professional bike team based in this country.

“Subway has been responsible for the development of some of the country’s best cyclists.”

Subway has gainfully employed the likes of Gordon McCauley, Hayden Roulston, Jesse Sergeant, Sam Bewley and Greg Henderson over the last decade.

It’s current crop of 12 riders have been told their employment with the team will cease in late December if Godfrey’s search for a white knight fails.

They include Olympic bronze medallist Westley Gough and under-19 rising star Dylan Kennett who won three silver medals and a bronze medal at last week’s world junior track championships in Invercargill, riding for New Zealand.

Subway New Zealand head of marketing David Herrick said the decision not to continue sponsoring the team was difficult and the chain would continue to back multisport and Coast to Coast winners Richard and Elina Ussher.

Godfrey said the split was amicable and that cycling was no longer a fringe sport, had a strong participation rate among corporate executives, and: “cycling has proven a very good vehicle for lifting brand profiles and we are excited by the prospect of working with a new major sponsor.”

Subway’s last official event will be the Armstrong Motor Group Festival of Cycling in Christchurch on December 1 and 2.