In a stunning move today, John Burke, president of Trek Bicycles announced that the company has severed ties with Greg Lemond. Trek has sold bicycles under the Lemond brand since 1995; the current contract between Trek and the three-time Tour de France winner was set to expire in 2010. Trek has similar contracts with bicycling icons Gary Fisher and Keith Bontrager which are not affected by this announcement.
The action by Trek appears to be precipitated by a recent lawsuit filed by Lemond against Trek on March 20. In the suit Lemond contends that Trek has not been fulfilling its obligations to grow the Lemond brand. Of particular concern to Lemond was the lack of any penetration for Lemond bicycles in the international market something which he contends was specifically called out in the existing contract.
Trek contends that Lemond's actions, Greg has given many public statements to the press in recent years about the drug problem in pro cycling, have seriously impaired Trek's ability to successfully market the Lemond brand. Burke also confirmed that Trek had met with Lemond this past fall and at that time indicated that Trek would not be renewing their contract when it ended in 2010.
We can spend a lot of bits and bytes prying into what is really happening behind closed doors. I am sad to see the relationship end because the partnership between Trek and Lemond produced some really cool bicycles. In fact, it could be argued that the Tete de Course, the flagship ride of the Lemond line was just as good or better than Trek's vaunted Madone.
Obviously, Lemond and Trek, within legal boundaries, are free to do whatever they choose. Hopefully, after the dust has settled from their split, both will flourish and we as consumers will be even better off.