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

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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.

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 US 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 afterwards 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 contact has not been officially severed .

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

Before the statement was released, Allied’s CEO Drew Medlock told VeloNews “obviously, we never planned for this circumstance.”

Rapha, Strickland’s clothing sponsor since January 2020, also declined to speak about details of its contract, which is signed through the end of 2022.

“Like many of you, we have been following news around the incredibly tragic death of gravel and mountain bike prodigy Moriah Wilson. ‘Mo’ was a prominent member of the American cycling community and her death is an undisputed tragedy. We are struggling to come to grips with her senseless death and we are sending our thoughts to Mo’s family friends.

“We are closely monitoring the ongoing police investigation and will respond accordingly as facts become clear,” read the brand’s statement.

In addition to providing apparel, Rapha provides Strickland with a “sponsorship fee,” but the brand would not detail that amount.

The Meteor Cafe, a cafe and concept bar located in Bentonville and Austin, also provides a sponsorship fee to Strickland.

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

Chris St. Peter, co-founder of The Meteor, told VeloNews that the company has sponsored Strickland since 2018.

“We have no other comments at this time, other than we mourn Mo’s tragic death and extend our deepest condolences to her family,” he said.

VeloNews also contacted Enve Composites and is awaiting its statement.

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

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

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