Friday, October 19, 2012

Rabobank Pulling the Plug on Pro Cycling

Dutch financial institution Rabobank has decided to end its seventeen year professional cycling sponsorship at the end of the year while still honoring its present contracts, another consequence of the WADA, USADA, UCI investigation and subsequent ban of multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

While the future of the men's team is somewhat assured, the powerful women's team is in a more precarious position as mentioned here.

The future of the women's team - which includes World and Olympic champion Marieanne Vos, is not so clear: "We want to completely support Marianne Vos' Olympic ambitions for 2016, but we have not yet worked out the details of that support. We are still looking for a solution," Bruggink added.
"We were shocked at the many details of the USADA report, which was published last week. For us, this has made the glass more than full. Enough is enough. And we are not confident that cycling will improve in the medium term."
Rabobank rider Marianne Vos, 2012 Olympic and world road racing champion.
Sponsors come and go in professional cycling so the withdrawal of Rabobank isn't unprecedented.  In fact, Deutsche Telekom, operating under the name of T-Mobile, dissolved its relationship with its high-profile cycling team in 2007 for basically the same reasons, drug infestation of its riders.  The sport has yet to recover its German fan base.
However, the women's side of the sport hasn't been affected  by doping scandals.  With a team made up of stars like Vos, AnneMiek Van Vlueten, Iris Slappendel, Lucinda Brand and Megan Guarnier, Rabobank had assembled perhaps the most powerful group of riders in the world. While Giant Bicycles is exploring ways to keep them together this event is just one more set-back to the viability of women's pro cycling.  Hopefully, things will improve for a group of athletes like no other. 

No comments: