2018 Tour de France. | Photo by Tom Sam on Unsplash

Competitive Cyclist brings Utah to the Tour de France

2018 Tour de France. | Photo by Tom Sam on Unsplash
2018 Tour de France. | Photo by Tom Sam on Unsplash

Ian Gonder is a self-proclaimed “cycling nerd.”

The senior brand marketing manager at Park City-based Competitive Cyclist is living a dream this week while traveling around Europe to follow the beginning of the 2024 Tour de France. Thanks to his company’s partnership with Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O.), he’s getting an opportunity to connect Utah with the worldwide cycling community.

“Experiencing firsthand the Tour starting in Italy and watching the peloton pass me inches away in the ancient streets of Florence and then climb the roads of Bologne was incredible,” he says. “Now I’ll ride that same road before the pros arrive — only half as fast as they will — but I can’t wait to be cheered on by the fans and find a perfect spot to watch the [general classification] battle unfold.”

The trip is more than just for fun; it signals the deepening role Gonder’s team is playing at the Tour. On June 27, Competitive Cyclist announced alongside A.S.O. that they would be the only official Tour de France retailer in the United States for the third year in a row.

Competitive Cyclist is a retail company that sells road and mountain bikes, while A.S.O. is a French sports promotion company that organizes 100 competitive events in 36 countries, including the Tour de France. Celebrating the connection between the two companies, A.S.O. noted Competitive Cyclist’s role in the U.S. market as a whole.

“With their high-level customer service and expertise in the bike industry, we believe that Competitive Cyclist is the top bike specialist to connect the world’s biggest bike race with US cycling fans,” said Nicolas Denolf, licensing and merchandising manager at A.S.O., in the release.

“Out of our back door are some of the best cycling grounds in the world.”

For Gonder, the partnership is a natural fit because Competitive Cyclist carries brands deeply associated with cycling’s most famous event, including sponsors like Santini, Oakley, Continental and Shimano. Building on these connections, he says, is a part of the partnership.

“The A.S.O., in turn, gets exposure to the large U.S. road cycling customer base,” Gonder points out.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Gonder is seeing the world’s top-tier cyclists in action. They crossed from Italy into France to follow the professionals as they climbed Col du Galibier.

“This morning [July 2], I looked out my hotel window at nearly 20 kilometers of camper vans lining the mountain’s road,” he says. “I’m into the sport, the riders and the beautiful roads they ride on.”

The experience is allowing him to consider the sport’s growth within the U.S. and Utah. He points out that the Beehive state uniquely appeals to riders who want to train.

“Out of our backdoor are some of the best cycling grounds in the world,” Gonder says of Utah’s landscapes. “Pro cyclists use these landscapes as training grounds and even home bases as they prepare for the Tour de France. So, for us, partnering with A.S.O. to be the official U.S. retailer for all Tour de France merchandise brings things full circle.”

He argues that Utah has been the starting point for many riders because of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. The sport’s popularity in the U.S., he hopes, will grow as U.S. contenders fare better in major tournaments. Sepp Kuss, for example, won the Vuelta a España in 2023, and for Gonder, it was a big moment to see a U.S. competitor in cycling media perform so well.

“I don’t think we’re far from an American winner of the Tour de France, and that would do wonders for the American cycling market, and our business would be a beneficiary,” Gonder says.

Jack Dodson is a reporter and documentary filmmaker most recently based in Palestine-Israel from 2018-2022. He has reported for Vice, BBC, The Intercept, Middle East Eye, among many others. He has a master’s in investigative journalism and documentary from Columbia Journalism School and a bachelor’s degree from Elon University in rhetoric.