Vacansoleil decides not to renew sponsorship after six years
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Vacansoleil decides not to renew sponsorship after six years

by Ben Atkins at 11:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Dutch team now joins Blanco in seeking replacement sponsor for 2014 and beyond

vacansoleilJust two days after announcing that co-sponsor DCM was not renewing its partnership with the team, Vacansoleil-DCM has confirmed that its title sponsor will also be pulling out at the end of 2013 after six years with the WorldTour team. The Dutch holiday company has sponsored the team since 2009 - beginning at Professional Continental level for its first two years, and then rising to the WorldTour in 2011 - but has achieved all that it wanted with its association with cycling.

“This year is one in which key decisions have to be made, given that our 3-year contract with the Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team expires at the end of 2013,” reads the Vacansoleil Company’s statement. “Recently we came to the conclusion that Vacansoleil reached, and has even exceeded, its European targets at the beginning of 2013.”

The decision leaves what is currently Vacansoleil-DCM searching for a replacement backer for 2014, along with compatriot Blanco Pro Cycling. Of the three Dutch teams in the current WorldTour, only one - Argos-Shimano - has secure backing for next year.

“Vacansoleil took a well measured decision and as a team we were aware of this scenario coming true,” said the team’s general manager Dan Luijkx. “The organisation of the team knows which direction it wants to go and we also know what the return for sponsors consists of. Our pure story with accessibility and passion for all in cycling will also attract new companies.

“The fact that Vacansoleil reached their goals in five years is a shame in one way since they quit but also a big compliment to the team,” Luijkx added. “We are proud on the investment they dared to undertake due to the fast growth and we were blessed with the sincere commitment. They had a lot of confidence in the team and understood cycling while they kept a clear border between sports and commercial interest. The company which offers luxury camping holidays approached the sponsorship as a business transitation and used the team in all the years to activate their brand. The looked at the doping problems of the sport from the current position of the sport and the measures taken by the team which made it no issue in the decision of the team.”

While Vacansoleil-DCM has outwardly been an anti-doping team - despite its signing of Riccardo Ricco an Ezequiel Mosquera in 2011, while Jose Rujano’s alleged connection to an anti-doping ring remains unresolved - the long-term effects of doping in the sport are behind Vacansoleil’s decision, as it endeavours to push into the German market.

“Currently only one (but a very important one) market is behind target, this being the German market,” reads the company’s statement. “Cycling is the second most popular sport in Germany. Despite this, the great reluctance of the biggest players in the German media to cover cycling in a meaningful way has not rewarded the efforts of willing teams and their sponsors in recent years.

“This reluctance seems to continue for the time being,” it adds. “Now that the realisation of our goals regarding brand exposure is a fact, Vacansoleil intends to start the next stage of our planned follow up strategy. In this, TV will be used as the most important communication platform.”

Despite losing both of his name sponsors in the space of three days, Luijkx is confident that his team will find new backing for 2014 and beyond, although he knows the challenges that he faces.

“In the coming years cycling has to adjust to become more attractive to multinationals,” he said. “The business model needs to become healthier and the divided teams need to become a combined strength, many teams understand this. Furthermore we need space for innovation in a sport which grows so fast for amateurs.

“We talk to several parties who see the value of the sport in general and more specifically the team. This for example concerns getting a return of ten times the invested sponsorship amount over the complete season.

“Potential partners also see the chances and challenges for the sport and that this generation is a group of riders who want to compete in an honest way,” he added. “The fact that Wout Poels and Thomas De Gendt underlined in interviews that they feel at home and want to continue is an extra motivation to get the signature from new partners.”

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