Wednesday, September 17, 2014 · 1:34 a.m.
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Members of Chattanooga's Elite Cycling Team will now wear Village Volkswagen uniforms under the new sponsorship, instead of the Krystal uniforms seen above. (Photo: Contributed)

Village Volkswagen has taken over for Krystal as the sponsor of the city's premier cycling team.

It’s an ideal partnership and a good business move for the dealership, officials said. 

“It’s just a good marketing decision,” Brad Cobb with Village Volkswagen said. “A lot of folks that bike are environmentally conscious and health conscious, and that’s our customer base.”

Last year, the dealership sponsored the Village Volkswagen River Gorge Omnium, which is a three-stage race in which racers are given points based on how they finish each stage 

And, along with Friends of Outdoor Chattanooga, Volkswagen is also sponsoring the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships, which will be held in Chattanooga for 2013-2015.

Many local leaders, even the former sponsors, said Village Volkswagen is a good fit with the team—which will now be called Village Volkswagen Elite Cycling Team. The team is a part of Chattanooga's cycling club, Scenic City Velo

The new design for the team uniforms includes the Volkswagen logo. (Graphic: Contributed)

Krystal transition 
The change in sponsorship highlights the changes going on at Krystal after new owners took over and moved the corporate headquarters to Atlanta. 

The team was formerly the Krystal Elite Cycling Team.

Spokeswoman for Krystal Robin Derryberry said that company leaders are evaluating everything from charitable investments to how to best grow their brand. Leaders want to have 500 stores in the South within the next five years. 

Leaders are still talking to some organizations the company has worked with in the past, but Derryberry said Krystal executives understand that some groups, such as the cycling team, will go with different sponsors. 

But she also said that leaders of local organizations need to understand that Krystal is essentially a "new company" and that decisions during transition periods take time. 

"The new team is committed to showing that they will have an even stronger connection to Krystal’s hometown," she said via email. "Relationships are more important than ever. Because of this, they are looking for events and efforts that will do the most sustainable good for their hometown."

Economic benefits of cycling
The recent sponsorship change has highlighted the economic benefits of the sport.

“[Cycling] brings a lot of people to the city,” James Delong with the team said. “It brings a lot to the city as far as hotels and restaurants.”

The USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships draws about 50,000 spectators and brings in more $4 million in publicity value each year, leaders said in May.

And before leaders canceled the Tour de Georgia in 2009, it generated more than $26 million for Georgia and attracted visitors and attention from across the world.

John Karr, board chairman for Friends of Outdoor Chattanooga, said that cycling brings a significant number of visitors, attention and revenue to the city.

“The national championships coming to Chattanooga—that’s big,” he said. “When you look in terms of how that compares to the Tour de Georgia—the Tour de Georgia would be like a regional playoff. The national championship is like the World Series.”

Updated @ 9:19 a.m. on 12/3/12 to add more information.
Updated @ 11:21 a.m. on 12/3/12 to clarify: Krystal plans to add 500 more stores across the South, not across the country.

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