October 25, 2005 – On the heels of the most successful season ever by a domestic professional cycling team, Health Net and Momentum Sports Group have reached a three-year agreement to continue sponsorship of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team.
“In its three years of existence, the team has continually built upon its successes,” said Dave Anderson, Chief Sales Officer for Woodland Hills, CA-based Health Net. “In that same time, we’ve also seen excitement for the team growing within the Health Net family. Team Health Net has not only created external marketing support for our company, it is a great source of pride for our employees.”
Health Net began its sponsorship of the team for the 2003 season because the company also saw it as a way to further its mission of promoting wellness. “What could be more healthy than riding a bike?” Anderson asked. “The team has been an excellent marketing vehicle, and demonstrates that we truly stand behind our mission of promoting wellness and a healthy lifestyle.” He also added that, “the professionalism of the riders on and off the bike has made them outstanding representatives of our company.”
The three-year sponsorship deal includes two guaranteed years, with a pre-set option for a third year. The extension will put Health Net nearly two-thirds of the way through a 10-year sponsorship plan.
With as much turbulence as professional cycling has seen in recent times, with sponsors coming and going, Health Net rider and team leader Mike Sayers sees the new deal as nothing but positive.
“It’s a big sign of commitment from a sponsor that’s been good to cycling the last few years, and in particular, to the team’s riders.” Sayers said. “One huge selling point the team has for new riders is the first class health insurance that Health Net provides every rider. This is a perk that no team has ever offered to its riders and cannot be understated. It shows how Health Net sees its riders not only as marketing tools, but as human beings who have lives and families to take care of.
“One other aspect that sets Health Net apart from the rest of the teams in the U.S. is the employee participation during events throughout the year. The employees follow the team regularly and always turn out in force with such great enthusiasm to support the riders both on and off the bike. The riders have really tried to show the employees of Health Net that they are members of the cycling team as much as the riders are. Health Net has been as good a sponsor as a team could ask for. Health Net’s dedication to the team and to cycling provides the program with some long-term stability, and will let us develop more riders to take over for the core group that will be leaving in the next couple years.”
Another member of that core of veterans, Scott Moninger, echoed Sayers’ thoughts. “It sends a great message that Health Net is committed as a sponsor for the long-term,” he said. “At the same time, the riders are just as committed to Health Net, and I think the results for the 2005 season demonstrate that.”
Moninger, a 15-year pro who has seen his share of teams — and careers — end due to loss of sponsorship, added that, “It’s nice to know that I’ll be able to leave the sport with the team intact for up and coming riders like Mike Jones and Doug Ollerenshaw.”
Ollerenshaw, who will begin his third year as a pro — and second with Health Net — in 2006, agreed with Moninger, adding that, “It’s good for the younger guys to know that the team will be around.”
He also sees the value in being part of Health Net’s marketing and public relations efforts down the road. “Being a pro isn’t just about riding a bike,” he says. “There is an important business aspect to the sponsorship for Health Net, and the riders especially have to be a part of it. It’s good that Health Net sees us as valuable in its marketing efforts. People at all levels of the company are excited about the team.”
Ollerenshaw recently participated in several events in Connecticut with Health Net, including a number of presentations to schools, as well as giving talks to Health Net customers about nutrition and exercise at an event in Groton, CT.
His appearance was one of many the riders made over the course of the 2005 season, and Anderson sees this as an increasingly important aspect of the sponsorship.
“Over the next few years, we will continue to get the team and its riders more involved in both our external and internal marketing efforts,” Anderson said. “Riders will be making more appearances at company functions, while also helping to represent Health Net at customer events to further promote wellness, because, quite simply, the healthier our customers are, the better it is for them, and for Health Net.”