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Jens Voigt's final pro bike – complete with 'shut up legs' mantra
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The Rabobank team will be expected to make the podium on home soil
Dutch bank will honour contracts but not under its name
The Rabobank professional cycling teams will continue to exist next year, but under a 'white label', the squad's management announced. Despite the Dutch bank's withdrawal from sponsorship, Rabobank confirmed in a separate press conference that it would "honour the contracts", ensuring the teams' immediate financial continuity.
"The cycling team is pleased with the opportunity that Rabobank will give the cycling teams to continue in the cycling sport, despite the bad news," stated a communiqué of the Rabobank team. "The professionals and the women will be put as 'white label' under a new foundation yet to be established, while the continentals and the crossers will be accommodated by the Dutch Cycling Federation. The careers of a generation of riders will this way be secured."
In a televised press conference on Friday morning, Rabobank financial director Bert Bruggink confirmed this, saying, "We will honour our contracts with the riders. The pro teams come in a separate foundation and hence contractual and financial obligations are unconditional. For the riders it is not possible now to move to another team."
While the men's team "has instructions to continue on its own as soon as possible," the future of the women's team around world champion Marianne Vos has yet to be defined. "We want to completely support Marianne Vos' Olympic ambitions for 2016, but we have not yet worked out the details of that support. We are still looking for a solution," Bruggink added.
The Bank's financial director also explained the reasons why it was decided to end the sponsorship as of the end of this year. Bruggink insisted that it were "the shocking revelations" of the USADA report of the US Postal doping scheme that made the sponsor decide to pull the plug.
"We were shocked at the many details of the USADA report, which was published last week. For us, this has made the glass more than full. Enough is enough. And we are not confident that cycling will improve in the medium term," he said.
Rabobank was not only shocked by the riders' doping confession made in the report, but mostly by the allegations that the international governing cycling tolerated or perhaps even covered up cheating in the sport. "The report shows that the international cycling world is flawed. Doping is everywhere at professional races and moreover it is supported even within the highest institutions of the cycling world. Our conclusion is thus that there is no way out of it. Which is why we have decided to stop supporting the professional teams," Bruggink said.
Rabobank meanwhile remains committed to sponsoring amateur teams as well as its Continental development team.