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Published 13 July 2012 13:39, Updated 16 July 2012 06:11
Having Cadel Evans as its Tour de France spearhead has generated strong interest in the BMC brand in Australia. Photo: Getty Images
Cadel Evans’s poor performance overnight in the Tour de France – the defending champion slipped to fourth position, at 3 minutes, 19 seconds behind leader Bradley Wiggins – is bad news for local cycle retailers.
The Australian’s victory last year sent interest in cycling soaring.
“There was certainly a Cadel effect last year,” says Retail Cycle Traders Australia executive officer Graham Bradshaw. “Kids wanted to emulate him, adults thought ‘It’s time I got a new bike. If he can do it I can’ – despite how they might be a 50-year old with middle-aged spread!”
The annual three-week Tour de France provides a much-needed boost to bike sales. With sales data hard to come by, the best indication comes from import figures. All bikes sold in Australia (with the odd hand-built exception), are imports and last year the country imported 1.02 million bikes, down from 1.2 million in 2010, according to Bicycle Industries Australia general manager Peter Bourke.
The performance of Cadel Evans, who hails from Melbourne, could play a role in this year’s sales. “If the Cadel factor can kick back in, it’d be fantastic,” says Josh Fitzpatrick, the head of operations for bikeexchange.com.au, a consolidator that lists the prices for bikes and accessories of 350 retailers across the country.
“Tour time is absolutely the busiest time of the year for us. Last year, with Cadel performing so well, the tour frenzy took over the whole country. We saw really strong growth through the month and literally overnight, when he won, the traffic just went through the roof,” Fitzpatrick says.
And while the average price of a bike imported into Australia – before extras such as taxes, duties, and quarantine fees – is $170, there is plenty of appetite, and cash for the top end as well. The bike that Evans won last year’s Tour on, the BMC Team Machine SLR01 Race Series Dura Race Di2 (2012), is advertised at a price $18,999 on Bike Exchange. (The cheapest BMC road bike on the site goes for $1399.)
Despite the relatively high prices, Evans’s endorsement held strong currency last year. “Last year, the biggest increase was searches for BMC,” Fitzpatrick says. It’s a relatively niche, boutique brand. It went absolutely crazy.”
Still, even if Cadel fails to raise his ranking in the tough Pyrenees mountain stages that the riders hit next week, the hopes of Australian fans, and retailers as well, still have another set of shoulders on which to rest. Rider Matt Goss, who captains Australian Tour de France team Green Edge, is a contender for the Green Jersey, which is awarded to the best sprinter in the Tour.