The Belkin Pro Cycling Team today announced that it has signed a "formal declaration of intent" with the Dutch Lottery, Lotto, and marketing firm BrandLoyalty, to ensure the team's future for at least two years.
The news confirms a report that came out during the Tour de France, 10 days after Lars Boom claimed a commanding stage victory on the cobbled stage to Arenberg.
The two sponsors will support both the cycling team led by Richard Plugge, and a speed skating team managed by Jac Orie to create a unique sports organisation.
"We aspire a collaboration of two years, with the option to add another two years," Arno de Jong, Marketing Director of De Lotto, said. "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."
The Belkin cycling team faced an uncertain future after the American technology company declined to continue its support beyond the end of the 2014 season. Plugge's team had begun soliciting funds from the general public before announcing this sponsorship agreement today.
"With this collaboration we will expand our vision of the team," Plugge said. "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 timing could not have been better, as the height of the transfer season hits when the UCI's official window for signing contracts begins on August 1. The team's top riders had already been courted by other teams, with Bauke Mollema linked to Trek Factory Racing.
However, the group has yet to announce any of the details regarding budget, which athletes will be signed, or even the team's name and colors. "Starting today, we will work out the last details. Once everything is settled, we will organize a press moment together," de Jong said.
BrandLoyalty was an existing sponsor of the speed skating team, and Orie will retain his staff, as will Plugge, but both teams will now have an assured future together.
"BrandLoyalty has always declared its intention to support Jac Orie's speed skating team for a longer period of time. Next to this, it was a common goal to create a model that would provide more security and continuity," Marco van Bilsen, Marketing Director BrandLoyalty, said. "This was a reason for BrandLoyalty to make room for this unique construction."