Vacansoleil reiterates support of professional cycling
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vacansoleil reiterates support of professional cycling

by Kyle Moore at 11:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Dutch camping holidays CEO provides differing stance from exiting Rabobank

Vacansoleil-DCMVacansoleil, the Dutch camping holidays specialist, and DCM, the manufacturer of natural fertilizers and plant foods, have pledged their continued support to the sport of professional cycling. The affirmation comes in the wake of the exit of Rabobank, the other major Dutch sponsor in the men’s professional peloton.

Rabobank pulled its support, citing the Lance Armstrong saga and ongoing doping related stories in the sport. While the longtime Dutch bank sponsor withdraws, Vacansoleil does the opposite, and extends its involvement, according to company CEO Bart van der Linden.

“Armstrong is a temporary affair. And it is also from the distant past,” van der Linden said to Het Nieuwsblad. “Honestly, we have no time to doubt, like Rabobank. Rather, we negotiate a renewal of our contract.”

Rabobank stunned the cycling world in October, after the US Anti Doping Agency’s report on doping at Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. It was the sponsor’s view that cycling had become too embroiled in scandal to continue with its name involved. Van der Linden has a differing view.

“We do not agree. Rabo bases its decision on the past,” van der Linden stated. “We feel it is now very difficult to use banned products and not be caught. Cycling is very much changed. It is self-regulating. For us, that was just a reason to opt for cycling.”

After earning a WorldTour license several years ago, Vacansoleil-DCM has had a slow and steady progression toward the top of the sport. The 2012 season was its greenest to date with 17 wins. The biggest of note were three victories in Paris-Nice, Thomas De Gendt’s triumph on the Passo dello Stelvio leading to his third place overall in the Giro d’Italia, and Marco Marcato’s win in Paris-Tours.

According to van der Linden, sporting success is the best kind of television exposure.

“We are looking for a full European platform,” he continued. “We can use the same money and buy television commercials in our target countries. And you will get impressive statistics on the viewing figures. But no one is saying anything about viewing behavior – people go get something from the refrigerator during a commercial break. In sports, sponsorship involvement is much better.

“You reach a smaller group – only 15 or 20 or 25 percent of sports fans – but they are intense. Our introduction in Belgium gave us the ultimate proof. With sports sponsorship, you get very quick brand awareness in an environment with great attention and commitment and positive association.”

Several years ago, when it was still trying to make a name for itself, Vacansoleil signed the then-still-questionable integrity of Ricardo Ricco. The team then suffered through the embarrassment of Ricco’s eventual expulsion before changing its ways to more of a “no exceptions” stance in its hiring policy.

“The UCI gave us the green light [in regards to signing Ricco],” van der Linden added. “At the request of Ricco, there was an extra penalty clause in his contract for the case of doping. It strengthens your faith that someone is not going to be so stupid.”

“Each new rider must pass a medical process, and his medical history must be reviewed by a specialist,” team director Daan Luijckx said of the squad’s internal processes. “Besides the WADA controls, we also carry out checks and maintain the biological passport. Different values, without conclusive explanation, is sufficient reason for dismissal.”

Luijckx also pointed to Vacansoleil’s psychological and technical support in training, adding that, “riders [previously suspended] are no longer welcome.”


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