Rabobank has ended its long association with cycling in wake of the USADA case into doping at US Postal. The Dutch bank cited the reason for announcing that it would end professional sponsorship of its professional men's and women's teams at the end of this season. The Dutch bank announced that sponsorship of both pro teams would end on December 31 2012, potentially leaving dozens of riders and staff without a team for next season.
However Cyclingnews understands that the teams will attempt to continue but without Rabobank cooperation, using a similar model used by High Road after T-Mobile pulled out of the sport in 2007. Along with the USADA case that suggested doping within the team, on Thursday the UCI opened a biological passport case against Carlos Barredo.
"The Rabobank cycling team regrets Rabobank’s decision to stop its sponsorship of the men’s professional cycling team. The team was informed about the reasons and understands the decision. We’ve been cycling for 17 years now with the name Rabobank proudly on our shirts and it hurts that going forward we’ll have to do without that name," the team said in a statement.
"The cycling team is very grateful to Rabobank for the 17 years of loyal sponsorship. The sport of cycling should be grateful to Rabobank for all the efforts it has made in the past years to put Dutch cycling on the map successfully. Through Rabobank, many talents have had the chance to reach their potential.
"We are confident that Rabobank will take good care of the cyclists and staff members of Rabobank Wielerploegen BV in the finalisation of this matter."
Rabobank came into the sport in 1996, replacing Word Perfect as Jan Raas title sponsor.
Full statement from Rabobank
Rabobank will end its sponsorship of both the men's and the women's professional cycling teams per 31 December 2012. Rabobank will continue its ties with amateur cycling as a sponsor, including the youth training and the cyclocross team.
Rabobank has come to this decision following publication of the report from the American doping authority USADA last week. This report speaks volumes. Bert Bruggink, member of the Managing Board: "It is with pain in our heart, but for the bank this is an inevitable decision. We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport. We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future."
Rabobank started its involvement in cycling 17 years ago. Full of conviction and with a clear mission. Because cycling fits with Rabobank, with its clients and employees. Rabobank has expanded the cycling sponsorship during the course of the years to a complete package, from the men's and women's professional teams to the youth team and the cyclo cross.
Bert Bruggink: "Cycling is a beautiful sport, which millions of Dutch people enjoy and a large number of those Dutch people are clients of Rabobank. But our decision stands: we are pulling out of professional cycling. It is painful. Not just for Rabobank, but especially for the enthusiasts and the cyclists who are not to blame in this."