By Susan Westemeyer
Earlier, Rabobank announced that it has extended its sponsorship of the ProTour cycling team for four years, through 2012, with an annual contribution of approximately €12 million. Piet van Schijndel, a member of the bank's executive board, expanded on his earlier comments and said that "We see the sport of cycling as a gem that can continue to gain luster providing that we give our long-term confidence and commitment."
He also noted that the sponsor is aware of the current problems within cycling. "We are aware of the history of doping within the sport and the considerable discord that exists between the large competition organisers and the international cycling union. We have, however, fortunately seen that the Rabo cycling teams have performed an exemplary role in this field of tension. This can help to restore the image of the sport of cycling." The sponsorship contract addresses both issues, van Schijndel said, without giving details.
The sponsorship helps to increase the bank's image internationally, but the domestic scene is not forgotten. According to the team's press release, "Approximately 80% of the Dutch population is aware of Rabobank's cycling sponsorship and 85% considers it a fitting combination. What's more, 90% of the local member Rabobanks have stated that they would like to continue the cycling sponsorship." This was the decisive factor in the bank's decision, van Schijndel concluded.