After seven successful years with Kona, Ryan Trebon along with friend, mechanic and road manager Dusty Labarr have struck out on their own. Their goal is to create a long-term program to offer a viable option to racers that want to focus on cyclocross.
“It is what I want to do because I think right now there are not that many teams out there that can offer a place for people that race [where they] can actually make money at it.” explained Trebon earlier today. He took some time after a training ride in Auburn, California to answer our questions.
It’s about developing the cross scene even more. “Hopefully, we’ll help to create more interest and get more people out there. That’s the idea but it’s a lot of work and if it happens I’ll be really excited, you have to take the risk and see if you can make it happen.”
Trebon and Labarr put together a company called L&T Sports and launched a team, a team of one for now.
“This year it’s just going to be myself until we can come up with more funding for it, we need money to hire people, other riders and staff. We want a program that’s not just one-year, we want a program that’s multi-year and that is focused mostly on cyclocross racing in the hopes that we can generate enough interest to where we can make into a long-term program where people have the option of racing cyclocross.”
A few obstacles had to be overcome along the way. “It’s going a lot slower than I was hoping for, we were working with a marketing sort of person but unbeknownst to us, things just stopped happening. ”
Then the pair put the pieces together and Felt Bicycles came on-board to sponsor Trebon for the 2011 season. “We’ve been talking with Felt for a long time and finally got the deal that we wanted to do done and it’s going to be pretty awesome.”
The two not only put together the program but are also putting their money in. For now, Trebon will be riding for the L&T Sports/Felt team.
“There are a lot of programs that don’t really have big title sponsors but they have somebody behind the program pushing it through with their own personal money, that’s me and Dusty’s own personal money,” laughed Trebon, “it’s not the biggest program in the world. What we want to do is get things going and hopefully attract sponsors. I think we have a good platform and a good product to help promote company’s products and we want to make it a long term, viable 5-year plan versus doing a year by year thing.”
They are taking to other sponsors but “until the pen is on paper, nothing is finalized.”
The emphasis is cyclocross but Trebon will still be racing a handful of mountain bike events in the summer, with a checkmark next to US National Mountain Bike Championships. “I’d like to do well at mountain bike nationals because they’re going to be back in the Northwest, so that’s a big focus of mine and getting ready for the cross season by doing a bunch of road races.”
Why now? Simply put it was just time for the 30-year old rider from Oregon.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a great sponsor at Kona for the past 6, 7 years but felt it was the right time to try something else. You kind of get a little bit complacent being at the same job for such a long time so we wanted to do something different and hopefully it can be a long term sort of thing for us. And why now? Now is as good a time as any right? Why wait for 3 years. Cyclocross is growing, Worlds coming here and it would bring more interest.”
For many, Trebon’s 2010/11 cross season was a disappointment, especially when looking at his palmares which includes multiple US national championships title, in cross (2006 and 2008), cross-country (2006) and short track (2007). He has also won the overall US Gran Prix of Cyclocross title four times.
“I didn’t have a bad season, I just didn’t have a good season. I still won races, I was still on the podium a lot, I was still racing well, I didn’t win as often. And so it’s hard to say ‘oh you had a bad season’ when you end up on the podium all the time. It wasn’t what I was expecting and what I think a lot of people expect of me so I was a little disappointed but I know that there were a lot of factors that could have played into what was going on.”
After dominating the US cross season a few years ago, Trebon found himself on the other side this year, feeling the brunt of the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com team. But he stressed that his past season was not the reason that he wanted to start this program.
“Kona was happy with my racing form and I was happy with being associated with Kona and they offered me to race for them again for the next couple of years. I just decided that this is something I was thinking about, I talked to Dusty ‘this is what I want to do’ and this is what we’re going to try to make happen.”
Cross scene is changing. It’s not just Trebon that moved to a new team. Overall USGP Jeremy Powers also announced his move to the Rapha/Focus squad after years with Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com. Added to the fact that Tim Johnson is now focusing on cross, the US cross scene just got a whole lot more interesting.
Trebon agrees that cross racing will definitely be more competitive with the changes. “I think it gets more competitive every year, everybody is racing better and there’s more competition out there but I think it brings more diversity to the racing because for the last 5 or 6 years it’s the same thing. Cannondale and Kona and Todd [Wells] of Specialized, it’s been the exact same people on the podium, just different places so it hasn’t changed up too much. This year with new teams out there, new sponsors and I think it will still be the same people but at least it will have different colors.” he laughed.
He does think however that there’s still a few more years until we see some of the up & comers on top of the podium.
“I think there’s a couple of good riders coming up but I still think it’s a few years off until a lot of the really young guys develop into winning races. Because we’ve seen a lot of the guys that we were hoping were going to develop into winning races that were younger three years ago not really doing that now. It’s hard you know. That’s what I’m saying, commit to racing fully on the road and they’re tired by cross season.” Trebon added, “We just don’t have the right people guiding them in the right direction, showing them what to do.
As Trebon pointed out, there’s only a handful of riders right now that can focus on cross while most must race either a full road or mountain bike season to make ends meet. And that’s where he hopes his program will help out.
“We want people to stay in racing cyclocross especially younger riders that leave to race on the road or mountain bike, that’s the only way to keep the talent that is going to get the results that everybody wants to see out of American riders.”