Norwegian team left in the lurch after sponsor pulls its funding
The Hitec Products-Birk Sport women’s team has been forced to resort to crowdfunding in order to find the necessary money to complete its season and ensure the team’s survival.
The team has enjoyed a strong start to the year with Charlotte Becker winning the most recent Women’s World Tour race at the Tour of Chongming Island, but has suffered a major financial blow after a major sponsor pulled out in April with immediate effect.
In a statement issued on Twitter, the team revealed that it had suffered frequent financial troubles in the past, but that the severity of the current situation had forced it to go public in its search for funding.
“Reduced sponsor income, combined with increasing licence costs from UCI and federations, insurance, travel, and equipment all lead to the team being in financial difficulties, and we have already had to reduce the activity and equipment level,” the statement read.
“This is not really a new situation for the team. We have always had higher costs as a Norwegian team, but have always managed to survive without letting the outside world know,
“But the hard times in the offshore markets and other markets in the last three years have made it increasingly difficult and now the survival of the team is in danger. We are dependent on fresh cash from sponsors to complete the season.”
The team posted its bank details on Twitter to enable fans to send donations, as well as setting up a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising €50,000 (£43,700) through donations.
Since it was established in 2008, Hitec Products has been the home of many of the sport’s biggest names, with Emma Johannson, Kirsten Wild, and Elisa Longo Borghini all spending time at the team.
Longo Borghini was one of those to lend her support to the team on social media, saying that it was “the team that raised me as a cyclist. I have some of the best cycling memories and it’s where I met some real friends. Please help it!?”
Unfortunately this isn’t the first time that a top level cycling team has had to resort to crowdfunding, with the then Cannondale-Drapac team starting an Indiegogo campaign at the end of 2017, raising more than $500,000 (£370,000) in the process.
In that case the publicity garnered by the crowdfunding campaign helped to attract a major sponsor in EF Education First, and Hitec Products will be hoping that its public plea for funding will yield similar results.