At a press conference in Rotterdam this morning, Iwan Spekenbrink revealed that the Argos North Sea Group have become the new title sponsor for his Project 1T4i cycling team. The sponsorship deal lasts 3 years and the team will race as Team Argos-Shimano, with their first race this weekend at the Tour of Flanders. With Tour and Vuelta organisers in attendance at today’s press conference, the news marks an important moment in the development of Spekenbrink’s team as they reach for WorldTour status and selection for the world’s biggest races. As a Pro Continental team they will need to rely on wildcard invites to this year's Tour and Vuelta but having raced last year's Vuelta - and picking up a stage - they are among the favourites to receive invites for both races in 2012.
“This means a lot to the team’s development,” Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews.
“This isn’t’ an extension to Skil-Shimano, it’s a new start. The team is more ambitious, it has more staff, better riders, a better programme at the highest level and is active on the highest level in the biggest races.”
The Argos North Sea Group has until now focussed on a B2B platform but with a desire to reach consumers in Europe they selected the sponsorship of a cycling team in order to project their image.
“The good this is that we’ve clearly worked out with them that we’ll maintain our important principles,” Spekenbrink added.
The team, a pro continental outfit, pride themselves on a philosophy of clean sport and rider development and while they have improved their line-up each winter with a number of strong signings, Spekenbrink has maintained that his team compete on a platform of clean cycling. The team’s sponsorship with Skil ended last winter and the team have raced the opening months of the season as the 1T4i squad. The term applied to the team’s ethos of inspiration, integrity, improvement and innovation.
“I’ve very proud that the sponsor has chosen to work with a team with such principles but we have to be in the WorldTour races, That’s very, very clear. And we can do that.”
“I am very happy that I can finally mention the name of our new main sponsor. The entire team is awfully proud that we have succeeded in committing a European multinational who will enable us to develop further in the coming years. Moreover, we find it very important that Argos wholeheartedly underwrites our team’s core values; Team spirit (1t), Inspiration, Integrity, Improvement and Innovation.”
Jan Dirks, Argos’ director for Branded Sales & Marketing Europe added: ‘We have decided to sponsor this team because Argos and 1t4i have a lot in common. Both the team and us are relatively new kids on the block, operating in a mature environment. We both are very ambitious, we want to be leading in Europe by challenging established competitors with innovative concepts. And we both have the courage to stand out from the crowd."