Exergy Development Group has had an intense involvement in cycling and we are proud of our leadership in providing opportunities for women's professional cycling and increasing its prominence.
We are incredibly disappointed that we cannot solely fund the 2013 Exergy Tour. We believe in this event and what it provides women's cycling. The economic and political climate facing renewable energy in Idaho has shifted unfavorably since we began our cycling involvement in 2009, and regulatory actions in 2012 halted construction on $250 million of Exergy projects, placing us in a delicate situation. Even through these challenging times, Exergy Development Group shall continue in our main business of renewable energy.
Ultimately, it was failure to garner support from other potential sponsors that halted the 2013 Exergy Tour. The inaugural Exergy Tour cost over $2 million and we had originally budgeted $1 million, with race managers confident they could help raise the balance. They could not, forcing us to use funds committed to other races for the Exergy Tour. Our involvement in those major races in 2012 suffered.
The transforming event of the Exergy Tour did not translate to additional support for women's pro cycling. We thank the many in-kind sponsors, but in the end, that's not enough. There is only so much Exergy can do, and sadly, there is little financial support for women's cycling.
Not supporting corruption is important to Exergy. In November 2012, we withdrew support of professional men's cycling after three years, given the corruption and deceit so prominent there. We received a great deal of criticism for this, but it was prescient as more revelations of performance enhancing drug use and widespread fraud emerged afterward. Exergy isn't alone in pulling back from men's cycling:
- In October 2012, Rabobank ended sponsorships in the wake of a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency about PED use. "We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport," said a member of the bank's board.
- In December 2012, Nissan announced that it was ending sponsorship of men's cycling at the end of 2013 and in the meantime wanted its name pulled off jerseys, bikes and vehicles, after the team's manager was implicated in a decade-long doping scandal.
- RadioShack recently announced it is ending its affiliation with cycling at the end of 2013.
When Exergy was first approached in 2011 to sponsor the Twilight Criterium, we agreed to a two-year sponsorship, which we fulfilled, a fact the media neglect to mention. We advocated resurrecting the women's race in 2012 and insisted on equal prize money, paying the difference. While the local organizers of the Twilight Criterium have done good work, given the continuing cloud over men's cycling, we cannot commit to men's sanctioned events.
We take great pride in owning the Exergy Tour and fostering equality for women's cycling. Our vision and investment made this race possible in 2012. We have made a statement through our support of women's cycling, one that few companies have matched.
The inaugural Exergy Tour should be applauded and we hope to bring this race back next year through additional support. There is still hope for this year, as we are winding down our commitments by the end of March; if sponsors came on board, we could still have the race even under the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) designation.
As a company, we do not take our commitment lightly and are humbled by the athletes we support and the opportunities we create. We graciously thank those who have believed in our company's mission and supported our teams.
James Carkulis is CEO of Exergy Development, www.exergydevelopment.com.