South African company Barloworld will continue its association with professional cycling and Claudio Corti's Professional Continental squad, despite a rocky season in 2008, the company has announced. Both sponsor and team were dealt a heavy blow in July when Moisés Dueñas tested positive during the Tour de France, prompting Barloworld to announce it would suspend its sponsorship following the Tour.
The announcement confirms Corti's statements to Cyclingnews last month.
The Barloworld name never disappeared from the team's jerseys and instead the company has announced the extension of its "successful and popular" deal through to the end of 2009. Despite Dueñas' arrest overshadowing the British team's Tour campaign, it claimed 22 race victories throughout the season with Italian Enrico Gasparotto leading the UCI Europe Tour standings.
"The team Barloworld sponsorship has been both successful and popular," said Chris Fisher, head of corporate marketing at Barloworld. "The ultimate objective has always been to make Barloworld a recognised name in our target market and ensure all our business units and employees have one team they support. In the last two years alone Barloworld achieved an estimated media impact of R2.5 billion [€190,000], excluding international television coverage. The sponsorship afforded Barloworld international partnership opportunities as well as global branding partnerships on kit, cars and merchandise. In excess of 500 customers and employees have been hosted at the Tour de France alone. The sponsorship has united Barloworld employees and attracted remarkable international interest and support."
Fisher praised the sport's intimate connection with spectators, saying it has helped the Barloworld name reach into people's hearts. "Our experience has been that today's cycling fan supports a team that 'touches their heart' or one that is the underdog or 'the little guy,'" he said. "Team Barloworld, due to their wildcard status in the Tour de France, and their smaller budget than the big teams, has acquired the label 'The little team that knew they could' which has led to the emotional support not only of South Africans but a legion of international fans."
Barloworld will announce its official roster for 2009 in coming days, although it's expected to remain largely unchanged with Robert Hunter, Mauricio Soler, John-Lee Augustyn, Paolo Longo Borghini, Steve Cummings, Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome, and Daryl Impey all returning for another season. The squad will also announce its event roster for the 2009 season within the next few days.