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Axel Merckx and Rabobank General Manager Harold Knebel at the start of stage 4.
General manager says he's had a lot of interest from potential investors
General manager of the Rabobank cycling team Harold Knebel says that he has fielded a lot of interest from companies looking to invest in his team since the Dutch banking giant withdrew its support earlier this month.
Knebel said he was optimistic for both the future of the team and the sport in general.
"There have been a lot of parties on the phone that are from companies wealthy enough to sponsor a cycling team," Knebel told Nieuwsblad.be
Knebel, who has been at the helm of the team since 2008, said it wasn't about taking the first offer that comes along rather, it was important that investors were fully aware of what they were buying in to.
"It will take much effort for something to be completed by end of this year, but in the interest stage, there is no lack of interest," he continued. "Cycling is not dead yet. I hope our sport can make a new start with a new legal framework."
The team's bike supplier, Giant, has recently been linked as a possible sponsor and may increase its current sponsorship in the future.
With Rabobank guaranteed a World Tour licence for 2013, Knebel believes that the prospect of joining his team as a sponsor should be appealing unlike joining a project where licences were not in place.
"Just ask Sky or GreenEdge how much effort it takes if you have to start from scratch," he said.
Knebel also said that while the sport is still facing some ethical issues, he would be doing his best to make it clear that he believes any issues are in the past.
"The attraction is apparently larger than the ethical risk," he said.
At the end of 2012, Rabobank will pull its title sponsorship from the team after 17 years of providing a solid financial backing. The shock move came in the wake of the USADA investigation into the US Postal team. Bert Bruggink, member of the Managing Board said that the company was "no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport."
The team is slated to race as a 'white label' team until a main sponsor is found.