After only two seasons as main sponsor of a professional cycling team - initially intended to last at least three years - French seed producer RAGT Semences has decided to end its support by the end of 2005. Alain Fabre, Chairman of the RAGT Supervision Council, explained his reasons in a statement and according to him, the UCI's pro cycling calendar reform, the ProTour, is largely responsible for the decline of the squad.
"At the end of the 2004 season, which was very gratifying both from a sport and media point of view, cycling changed dimensions," he said. "In fact, team selections with ProTour were set up from the start of the second year. This no longer allowed us to meet the demands of the better cyclists, who left us for richer teams. This serious trend was confirmed and, with no guarantee of being able to participate in leading events, we were no longer even capable of providing a full calendar for our cyclists. We are obliged to withdraw within a reasonable time span to maintain our integrity and thus enable the cyclists to find other teams if a new sponsor does not turn up."
Fabre, who did not regret his support of the cycling team, continued by paying homage to the sport, which he said was "a wonderful federating force for both our staff and our customers, who have all showed interest in our adventure in professional cycling. [...] For us, our involvement in cycling has been a genuine lesson in integrity, team spirit and courage. It is a world in which everyone knows what working and giving the best of themselves means."