Belkin pull plug on team sponsorship after just one year
With Giant reportedly ending backing of Netherlands' other WorldTour team, Dutch outfits chase sponsors
Team Belkin has announced it is looking for a new sponsor after the American electronics accessories firm that is its current backer confirmed it would not be renewing the deal beyond the end of this year. With Giant-Shimano also reportedly searching for a new title sponsor, both WorldTour teams from the Netherlands need to bringing new finance on board.
In a statement, Team Belkin said it “is disappointed by the exit, since it got a lot of positive feedback on the sponsorship,” and that it would start looking for a new title sponsor straight away.
Belkin, which also owns the WeMo and Linksys brands, announced its sponsorship of the team, whose riders include former Tour of Britain winner Lars Boom and Classics specialist Sep Vanmarcke in the build-up to last year’s Tour de France, where Bauke Mollema finished sixth overall.
It aimed to build brand awareness and sales, and says that it succeeded in Europe on the former goal, but has changed its corporate strategy, which is now more globally focused.
Richard Plugge, the team’s managing director, said: "It is unfortunate that this new collaboration is not going to be extended. With the motto #ridethefuture we have generated a lot of goodwill the past year, in an environment that is still critically observed.
“Our innovative method and forward-looking TEAM philosophy has brought the sport back where it belongs, with fans and stakeholders. Our performance, battle mode, transparency and accessibility have not gone unnoticed by the public and industry.
“We will now start an intensive search for a new sponsor to be able to continue the journey that we started. We have full confidence in the future and expect to appear with a new sponsor on the shirt at the start of the 2015 season.
“We are a Dutch procycling team with an international image and World Tour status, therefore we expect to find a new title sponsor. We were already in conversation with additional sponsors and still have sponsorship opportunities open for the upcoming Tour de France," he added.
The Dutch outfit rode as Blanco Pro Cycling in early 2013, describing its new identity as “a new team, a fresh start, a blank canvas,” after Rabobank decided to end its long-term involvement in the top tier of the men’s sport in October 2012 due to ongoing doping allegations against former riders and staff.
The financial institution, which continues to back under-23 and women’s teams until at least the end of 2016, did commit to backing the men’s team and paying staff and riders’ wages through to the end of 2013.
Meanwhile last month, Giant-Shimano sprinter Marcel Kittel said he hoped to continue to ride for that team in 2015 despite concerns over whether the Taiwan-based bike manufacturer, whose contract expires at the end of this year, would renew its backing.
Giant began sponsoring the team at the start of this season after former backer, oil firm Argos, decided not to carry on its sponsorship and a deal with a US-based charity fell through.
The Giant deal is only for this season, but Kittel, quoted on Sky Sports News after winning Stage 2 of the Giro d’Italia in Belfast, said: “The contract is until the end of the year but you can always extend the contract. I think we are in a good way – that’s what I heard from the management of our team – and that makes me not worried because I trust them.”
A third Dutch WorldTour team, Vacansoleil-DCM, folded at the end of last year after the holiday firm that was its title sponsor decided against extending the deal.