Concerns were raised prior to the Tour de France when the Belkin electronics company stated that it would not continue as backer beyond the end of this season, but the future of the current Belkin Procycling squad looks secure after an important announcement on Wednesday.
The Dutch national lottery De Lotto and the BrandLoyalty company have signed a formal declaration of intent with both the cycling team and also the current BrandLoyalty speed skating team.
“With this collaboration we will expand our vision of the team,” said the team’s general manager Richard Plugge in a statement announcing the arrangement. “During the Tour de France we have worked together as a team to bring cycling back to where it belongs: in the hearts of the fans!
“This unique concept brings Holland’s biggest high endurance sports together. Our team is looking forward to the start of this unique collaboration.”
The team had a successful Tour de France, with Lars Boom winning stage five of the race and Laurens Ten Dam plus Bauke Mollema finishing ninth and tenth overall.
Today’s news gives the project a greater stability for the future, bringing to an end a period when the team owners were searching for a backer to replace Belkin. The latter had come on board last year when the former Rabobank team was left searching for a title sponsor. The association had been expected to last longer, but in June it was announced that the deal would not be prolonged.
De Lotto’s marketing director Arno de Jong said that the initial agreements with the cycling and speed skating teams would span two seasons. “We aspire a collaboration of two years, with the option to add another two years,” he stated.
“This would make Lotto the name giver of the first combined cycling – speed skating team. We are currently working on the details. Everything is focused on Lotto and BrandLoyalty joining forces to make sure the first professional speed skating- cycling team will start next season.”
He added that while the combined models would provide greater security and continuity, that the actual sporting aspects of both teams would be kept separate.
Plugge will continue to run the cycling team while the coach Jac Orie will remain in control of the speed skating setup.
“With this construction, the teams can collaborate organizationally as well as commercially and the collaboration can lead to the transmission of knowledge between the teams, which will ultimately lead to an optimal facilitation of the athletes,” said de Jong.
He added that the final details are being worked out and once that is done, a further announcement will be made.
Until that time, the name of the team, the colours, the budget and the line-up will not be declared.
Also see: Laurens Ten Dam interview: Dutchman ‘really happy’ with ninth in Tour