Sponsors cut ties with Colin Strickland in wake of Moriah Wilson murder case

Allied Cycle Works says the pro 'is not expected to represent Allied at future races;' Specialized, Rapha, Enve, and The Meteor have terminated their contracts with him.

Photo: Ross Morales

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Colin Strickland is seeing some of his key sponsors distance themselves from the gravel pro after details emerged revealing his proximity to Moriah Wilson’s tragic murder.

Enve Composites is the latest brand to end its agreement with Strickland, giving VeloNews a statement early Tuesday morning.

“We were horrified to learn about Moriah Wilson’s death and as more details continue to come out in the media, the shock and sadness deepens. Her murder and subsequent details regarding her death have been hard to process and as an industry, we’re left in a position we’ve never been in before. After speaking with Colin, we’ve mutually agreed to end the contract and partnership. We hope that Moriah’s family and the cycling world as a whole are able to heal in time.”

The 35-year-old professional gravel racer is in the headlines after his business partner and live-in girlfriend Kaitlin Armstrong was accused of murdering Wilson.

Over the weekend, Specialized — Strickland’s helmet, shoe, tire, and mountain bike sponsor — was the first big brand to cut ties with him.

“As of Saturday, May 21st, Specialized has terminated the contract agreement with Colin Strickland and he will no longer be a sponsored athlete for the brand,” a statement read. The company did not go into detail about why the contract was terminated.

In addition to Specialized, Strickland is also sponsored by Red Bull, Allied Cycle Works, Rapha, The Meteor Cafe, and Enve.

On Monday, VeloNews attempted to contact Red Bull, the international energy drink giant that’s sponsored Strickland since 2017. VeloNews received an email from a senior communications manager that read, “thank you for reaching out. This is a matter for the authorities,” and the company refused further comment.

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The pull-back from Strickland is the latest fallout from the tragic shooting of Wilson on May 11 in Austin, Texas.

An arrest warrant was issued for Armstrong on May 19, and the 34-year-old is now on the run and being sought by the U.S. Marshals.

In the affidavit and arrest warrant filed by the Travis County District Court on the same day, Strickland spoke about his relationships with both Armstrong and Wilson in a voluntary interview.

Strickland said he was with Wilson in the hours leading up to her death on May 11.

An affidavit reveals the two went swimming at the Deep Eddy pool in Austin and afterward ate at Pool Burger. The affidavit states that Strickland dropped Wilson off at the friend’s house where she was staying and left without entering the house.

Minutes later, a car registered to Armstrong pulled up. About an hour and a half later, Wilson’s friend returned home to find the 25-year-old shot to death, the affidavit read.

Strickland alleges he has not seen Armstrong since May 13.

Strickland has not been charged with a crime in the murder case and has fully cooperated with authorities in all aspects of the investigation.

He issued a statement to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper on May 20, clarifying his relationship with Wilson and expressing “torture about my proximity to this horrible crime.”

Now, Strickland is seeing other sponsors step back and reconsider their sponsorship deals in the fallout of the high-profile case that is attracting attention from national and international media.

On Monday, Allied Cycle Works issued a statement to VeloNews. 

“We continue to monitor all developments related to the story, and have no additional information other than what has been released to the public. Given the circumstances, Colin Strickland is not expected to represent Allied at future races,” a note said.

Strickland has been in a contractual relationship with the Bentonville, Arkansas-based bike brand since the spring of 2019. His contract does not officially end until December 2022, but a representative from Allied’s marketing and PR firm said that the contract has not been officially severed.

Allied did not reply to VeloNews’ questions about how grounds for termination would be determined.

Rapha, Strickland’s clothing sponsor since January 2020, issued an updated statement on Tuesday.

“Like many, we have been following the news around the incredibly tragic death of gravel and mountain bike prodigy and prominent member of the American cycling community, Moriah ‘Mo’ Wilson.  We are deeply saddened by her senseless death and we are sending our condolences to Mo’s family and friends. In light of recent events we have mutually agreed to end our partnership with Colin Strickland with immediate effect.”

In addition to providing apparel, Rapha provides Strickland with a “sponsorship fee,” but the brand would not detail that amount. Strickland’s contract with the brand was signed through the end of 2022.

The Meteor Cafe, a cafe and bar concept located in Bentonville and Austin, also provides a sponsorship fee to Strickland and has worked with the athlete since 2018.

In early spring, The Meteor also signed a one-year deal with Wilson.

On Tuesday, Chris St. Peter, co-founder of The Meteor, told VeloNews, “as of today, the Meteor and Colin Strickland have parted ways, and he is no longer affiliated with our brand.”

The Meteor’s official statement paid tribute to Wilson.

“The Meteor continues to mourn the tragic loss of Mo Wilson. Mo was a remarkable person and gifted athlete, a rising star poised to take the cycling world by storm. The emerging details of the investigation hit close to home, making this senseless loss of life even more difficult to process. We are hopeful that the authorities are able to conclude their investigation, and we extend our deepest condolences to Mo’s family, friends, and the countless others she inspired.”

To honor Mo’s memory, please consider donating to the Mo Wilson GoFundMe page, as we have. We also welcome you to join the Austin cycling community in a memorial ride this Sunday, May 29.”

Police meanwhile, continue their search for Armstrong, who’s been missing since last week.

Officials from the U.S. Marshal’s office told VeloNews on Monday morning, “we are still looking for Armstrong.”

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