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Belkin riders offer deadline on search for new sponsor

By:
Cycling News
Published:
July 02, 2014, 3:00 BST,
Updated:
July 02, 2014, 4:52 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Belkin team manager Richard Plugge and team leader Bauke Mollema

Belkin team manager Richard Plugge and team leader Bauke Mollema

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Plugge hoping to save his team

Following the announcement by Belkin that its American consumer electronics sponsor would cease to sponsor the WorldTour squad beyond 2014, Algemeen Dagblad is reporting that team manager Richard Plugge has been told by his riders that if no new sponsor is found by August 1, they will look elsewhere for contracts

"Most of the team stands together in an attempt to save the team," Plugge told Algemeen Dagblad. "Many riders have given us time to find a sponsor. We have until August 1 before they start to make sure that they can support themselves in the future."

Bauke Mollema and Wilco Kelderman have already been linked to rival teams, Tinkoff-Saxo and Orica-GreenEdge respectively, since the announcement on June 17 that that Belkin would not renew its sponsorship.

Algemeen Dagblad also reports that the team management didn't inform its riders about a clause which allowed Belkin to cancel its sponsorship at the end of 2014. Plugge stated that would not discuss this with the media, only with his riders.

"If we can't find a sponsor, we are going to gently release our riders," Plugge said. "What do I mean? I will discuss that with the guys, not with the media."

Two days after the announcement by Belkin, the Dutch team set up a PayPal account where fans can donate 10 Euros to help fund the team to "take things into our own hands via crowd funding," a statement on the team's website read.

"It was a bit hasty but we wanted to prevent what somebody else did, like with Rabobank," Plugge said of the crowd funding and membership announcement. "Now 2000 people have offered money and we have the same number of paying fan club members. For potential sponsors, this gives a good idea about our grassroots."

In 2013, the team created the 'Team Belkin Fan Club' and offers three different membership packages for fans.

The team reportedly has €1.5 million in reserve from smaller sponsors and Plugge recently told Cyclingnews that he may have to run the team on a reduced budget.

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