Rabobank, a fixture in cycling sponsorship since 1996, today announced that it is refocusing its sponsorship to a more local feel and therefore will end its relationship with RaboLiv (and pro cycling as a whole) at the end of 2016.
The change in focus also affects the sponsorship dollars behind the Royal Dutch Cycling Union (KNWU), the Rabo Development Team and the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation (KNHS). The unions and the teams will have till the end of 2016 to find new partners.
Rabobank has been an active sponsor of cycling since 1996, supporting both the top of the sport and its grass roots. In 2012 the Dutch bank ended its sponsorship of the iconic orange-and-blue Rabobank men’s squad following various doping scandals. At that time it also took a step back in its support of the Dutch national road team. However, it continued to support the women’s program rebranded as RaboLiv.
“Rabobank has every confidence that [RaboLiv] will once again deliver good results in 2016. This will provide a good basis for finding new partners. Rabobank is working in consultation with the women’s team on continuity after 2016,” the bank said in a statement.
Star rider, Marianne Vos, expressed gratitude toward the bank’s support over the years, stating, “I want to thank Rabobank for all the opportunities it has given the team, our young riders and to me personally. We have made every effort in recent years to make our team successful and put women’s cycling on the map. We will continue to try 100 percent in 2016, in which the sporting highlight will be the Olympic Games in Rio.”
The team management of RaboLiv also issued a statement of gratitude, stating it respects the bank’s decision.
“Of course it’s a pity when such a sponsor disappears, but we respect the decision and are grateful for all that Rabobank has done and still does,” said general team manager, Eric van den Boom, who credits the sponsor for professionalizing the team and providing opportunities for rider to grow and develop.
Van den Boom also made clear that losing their title sponsor in no way means the end of the team.
“We will do our utmost to ensure continuity of this great team. With a wonderful selection and a great organization and we have something good to offer potential sponsors,” said a confident Van den Boom. “And we assume that there is one beautiful cycling year yet to come with Rabobank. 2016 is an Olympic year . The team is already preparing for a very important cycling season . We have several contenders in Rio. Who knows, we might give Rabobank a proper farewell . That would be very nice and well-earned.”