Standing out in a crowd is a necessity when it comes to surviving in the topsy turvy game of funding a cycling team. “There is no model for how you run a successful team at the moment; if you try to copy the success of an older team you’ll be left behind since media has been changing so quickly. I’ve concentrated on creating new models for content delivery to our sponsors, trying to make it worthwhile for them to sponsor us. And if they’re happy, then I’ll have money for my kids to race their bikes”, says Chris Johnson, the man behind the D3 Devo program, a development team for U-23 riders looking to make it to the next level.
Other development teams like Hincapie and Bontrager often end up with the pick of the litter for young riders, but with limited roster space on those teams there are a number of highly talented riders who slip through the cracks, or just need a little more experience at the national level. “We have some really good riders who were overlooked by other programs, and they really stepped up to the plate this year”, explained Johnson. As a former racer himself, Johnson has happily traded in his own ambitions in order to help the next generation of cyclists, “I had a passion for racing, but the reward for helping these guys is much greater than anything I could have achieved in my own racing-it’s been extremely rewarding focusing on the young riders trying to make the next level, whether it’s as a pro racer or with anything in life.”
After the first year that saw the team compete in the USA Crit Series, Sea Otter Classic, Philadelphia Invitational, Cascade Classic, and other national level events, D3 Devo will bring a roster of 12, U-23 riders into the 2014 season. “We have to do the big races, but more than that, we have to get results in those races against the top guys, and that’s how we’ll continue being noticed,” said Johnson. A couple of the big races he’s referring to are Philadelphia Invitational, Nationals, and, potentially, some international racing opportunities.
Winning races is only one part of the equation for the D3 Devo program, with the other part being the most important in program sustainability-sponsorship management. Using the idea of store visits much like the Saturn team did in their heyday, D3 Devo has stayed busy visiting branch locations of their presenting sponsor, Airgas. “This year we’ve already done 80 visits to Airgas stores throughout the country. We want the stores to know who we are and that we’re out there advertising for them”, said Johnson. In addition to Airgas, the team has a number of industry sponsors that include Marin Bikes, Deda Elementi, IRC Tires, Rudy Project, Sidi, and Clif Bar.
2014 D3 Devo p/b Airgas Roster
(Two more riders will be added)