Rabobank ‘white jersey’ support will see pro teams continue next season
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Rabobank ‘white jersey’ support will see pro teams continue next season

by Shane Stokes at 5:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Financial obligations to be met despite sponsor’s withdrawal from cycling

Robert GesinkAssuaging fears that Rabobank’s announced withdrawal as sponsor for its cycling teams would lead to widespread unemployment amongst riders and staff concerned, the bank has said that it will honour its financial commitments going forward.

The teams were plunged into disarray this morning when, approximately half an hour before the media were notified of it, the riders were told that the bank was walking away from the sport.

“It is with pain in our heart, but for the bank this is an inevitable decision,” said Bert Bruggink, member of the board of management. “We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future.”

He said that the USADA report into doping by Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team was the reason for the decision.

However at a press conference held by the bank in Utrecht, riders and staff have been told that while the named backing is being pulled, that the existing financial agreement will be honoured and so the men and women’s pro teams will continue in 2013.

According to a release from the team, it will continue as a ‘white label’ outfit; in other words, with the backing of Rabobank, but without its logos on the jersey. It has been suggested that Marianne Vos and the women’s team could receive financial support until 2016, while it is understood that the existing men’s contracts will be honoured for next season. “We can maintain for 2013 and have to go further on our own as soon as possible,” a team spokesperson told VeloNation.

The setup will therefore be similar to the Team Highroad outfit, which was set up using the financial obligations of T-Mobile after the latter quit cycling.

“The cycling team is pleased with the opportunity that Rabobank will give the cycling teams to continue in the cycling sport, despite the bad news,” it said in a statement. “Rabobank has trained generations of riders from young riders to the professionals they are now. It graces Rabobank the fact it is giving the cycling teams the chance to make a new start despite of this separation.

“The professionals and the women will be put as ‘white label’ under a new foundation yet to be established, while the continental and cyclo cross riders will be accommodated by the Dutch Cycling Federation. The careers of a generation of riders will this way be secured.”

The team addded that the current cycling team director Harold Knebel will begin the transition to white label setup as soon as possible, and that more details would be provided over time.

“The cycling team will continue with the confidence it is following the right path,” it stated.

Responding to the news, the UCI has ackowledged Rabobank’s decision to withdraw after seventeen years. It referred to the biological passport process announced yesterday against the current team rider Carlos Barredo, as well as acknowledging the effect of the fallout from the US Postal Service scandal.

“In light of the difficult period, namely the high public interest in past doping issues and perhaps a more recent action taken by the UCI against a rider of the team, the UCI understands the context which has led to this decision being reached,” it stated.

“Despite inevitable and sometimes painful consequences, the UCI reaffirms its commitment to the fight against doping and full transparency about potential anti-doping rule violations.”

UCI president Pat McQuaid thanked the bank for its long partnership for the sport, and said that it had both changed the lives of the athletes supported and also helped Rabobank become ‘one of the most recognized brands in sport worldwide.’

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