Are merging oil companies Team Project 1t4i’s new sponsor?
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are merging oil companies Team Project 1t4i’s new sponsor?

by Reno Van Dael at 12:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
North Sea Group and Argos Oil linked to Dutch team

Marcel KittelAt Project 1T4I's team presentation on January 10th of this year, team manager Iwan Spekenbrink told the gathered press that its main sponsor would be announced at some point in the month of March. This decision was made in correspondence with the sponsor's communication strategy. A cloud
of mystery hung around the team since then and there's been plenty of speculation. Meanwhile, the team is racing under a temporary name, Project 1t4i, which promotes the team's stated core values.

Aimed at not to burden riders and staff with rules on keeping its future name secret, riders and staff were simply not informed of the sponsor's name. Only a select group of people know the details, amongst those manager Spekenbrink and his wife.

According to Dutch site Wielerland, the new sponsor does not exist just yet. However some research brought to light that one of 1T4I's subsponsors, Argos Oil, is merging with the North Sea Group and, according to a release on the latter’s site, the new merger company is to be announced on March 30th. The names of these two companies have been linked to 1T4I before.

At a Dutch radio show, Peter Goedvolk, SEO of Argos Oil, was asked about the near-future merger. He was guarded in his reply, but did announce the brand Argos would form half of the new company's title, while the North Sea Group would contribute the second half of its name. At this point, we're left in the dark as to its exact title.

The new team's name and accompanying new kit will first be visible during the Tour of Flanders, on the 1st of April. The timing of that plus the prior links fuel speculation that the new backer of the team will be the merged companies.

Both Argos Oil and the North Sea Group are key players on the Western European downstream oil market. The company combines storage and distribution with the international trading and sale of mineral oils and biofuels. Some of North Sea Group's brands are Oilinmotion, Rhytank and SKYNRG.

Cycling has a previous link in recent times with the oil and energy industry; Kuwait's national oil company Q8 backs the Omega Pharma Quick Step team. In addition to that, energy company Enovos backs both the ProTeam RadioShack Nissan and its development team Leopard Trek, while Garmin Barracuda's development squad Chipotle is co-sponsored by First Solar.

The 1t4i squad is a UCI Pro Continental team which is pushing to get a wildcard entry to the Tour de France. It features the strong sprinter Marcel Kittel, who has clocked up two stage wins this year in the Tour of Oman as well one in the Etoile des Besseges, plus German fastman John Degenkolb, time trial specialist Patrick Gretsch and last year’s Le Samyn winner Dominic Klemme.


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