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October 19/12 9:20 am - Rabobank to End Pro Cycling Sponsorship

Posted by Editor on 10/19/12

Dutch bank Rabobank has announced that it will cease sponsoring the men's and women's professional cycling teams that bear its name at the end of this year, ending 17 years of support. Rabobank says it will respect its contractual obligations regarding contracts, and will stay with the national youth program and cyclo-cross team.

The reason cited is the depth and breadth of doping within cycling that was revealed through the USADA report released last week. The announcement that the UCI had opened an investigation into team member Carlos Barredo through the Biological Passport program likely didn't help.

The team has responded that it will continue as a 'white label' squad (ie, no title sponsor) while searching for a new sponsor:

"The Rabobank cycling team regrets Rabobank’s decision to stop its sponsorship of the men’s professional cycling team. The team was informed about the reasons and understands the decision. We’ve been cycling for 17 years now with the name Rabobank proudly on our shirts and it hurts that going forward we’ll have to do without that name."

"The cycling team is very grateful to Rabobank for the 17 years of loyal sponsorship. The sport of cycling should be grateful to Rabobank for all the efforts it has made in the past years to put Dutch cycling on the map successfully. Through Rabobank, many talents have had the chance to reach their potential. We are confident that Rabobank will take good care of the cyclists and staff members of Rabobank Wielerploegen BV in the finalisation of this matter."

The official Rabobank statement:

Rabobank will end its sponsorship of both the men's and the women's professional cycling teams per 31 December 2012. Rabobank will continue its ties with amateur cycling as a sponsor, including the youth training and the cyclocross team.

Rabobank has come to this decision following publication of the report from the American doping authority USADA last week. This report speaks volumes. Bert Bruggink, member of the Managing Board: "It is with pain in our heart, but for the bank this is an inevitable decision. 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."

Rabobank started its involvement in cycling 17 years ago. Full of conviction and with a clear mission. Because cycling fits with Rabobank, with its clients and employees. Rabobank has expanded the cycling sponsorship during the course of the years to a complete package, from the men's and women's professional teams to the youth team and the cyclo cross.

Bert Bruggink: "Cycling is a beautiful sport, which millions of Dutch people enjoy and a large number of those Dutch people are clients of Rabobank. But our decision stands: we are pulling out of professional cycling. It is painful. Not just for Rabobank, but especially for the enthusiasts and the cyclists who are not to blame in this."

The UCI also issued a statement on the matter:

The UCI acknowledges the decision of Rabobank to withdraw from cycling after 17 years of involvement with the sport as principal sponsor of one of the best known teams of the peloton.

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.

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.

The UCI wishes to express its gratitude to Rabobank for its important investment and support of women’s and men’s cycling, over almost two decades, as well as its decision to continue its support of the Cyclo-cross team, amateur cycling and youth training, which is important for the future of our sport.

UCI President Pat McQuaid said “Cycling is grateful for the many years of successful partnership with Rabobank, which have been beneficial for all. Its involvement has changed the lives of numerous athletes who in turn have undoubtedly contributed to make Rabobank one of the most recognized brands in sport worldwide.”


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