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The Vacansoleil team with new Dutch champion Johnny Hoogerland
Time limited before its racers switch to other squads
The quest for a new sponsor for Vacansoleil-DCM continues. The Dutch World Tour team will lose Vacansoleil as their main sponsor after five years and also the second title sponsor DCM will leave the team after this season. The team is optimistic about procuring new sponsors.
"Three companies are currently considering our proposal," PR and sponsor manager Frank Kwanten told Cyclingnews today. "It's up to them now."
Vacansoleil, a camping firm, started sponsoring the Dutch team in 2009 when it operated on a Pro-Continental level. It was promoted to World Tour level in 2011. A return to the second division of cycling remains a possibility for 2014.
"It is possible to take a step back for one season and return to World Tour level in 2015," Kwanten said.
There has been speculation in the Dutch media about whether TVM would return to cycling. The Dutch insurance firm is now the main sponsor of a speedskating team but that commitment ends after the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. "They are investigating a return to the sport," Kwanten told Cyclingnews, "but as of today they are not one of the three parties I mentioned before."
TVM sponsored a pro cycling team from 1986 to 1999. "A sports marketing bureau currently investigates what our goals with sports sponsoring will be after 2014," TVM corporate marketing manager Jaap Stalenburg told Cyclingnews. "A return to cycling is a serious option and we already had informal talks with Vacansoleil-DCM manager Daan Luijckx, but our schedules don't match."
Vacansoleil-DCM needs a sponsor for 2014 while TVM wants to finish their commitment to speedskating throughout the Olympic 2014 season. "We are not betting on two horses," Stalenburg said." The results of the sports sponsoring enquiry are expected in autumn of this year. "It's not said we return to cycling and take over an existing team. There are several other options too."
For Vacansoleil-DCM, time becomes an issue. Manager Daan Luijckx set the finish of the Tour de France as a deadline but had no news to report on Sunday. "The parties that are interested know the urgency," Kwanten said. "But we'd rather take a well-reasoned decision than a rash one."
Kwanten didn't want to elaborate on the names of the interested parties. "They are international companies, some with an office in the Netherlands," he said.
Luijckx already told his riders that they should keep their eyes open for other teams. Dutch time trial champion Lieuwe Westra was already linked to Astana and Björn Leukemans to BMC. "I can't block their careers," general manager Luijckx told Sporza earlier this month.
The riders haven't been informed yet of the current state of affairs. "I haven't heard anything yet, no phone call, no email," sprinter Kenny van Hummel told Wielerflits on Wednesday. "I know Daan (Luijckx) is working hard to find a new sponsor, but these are not easy times."
For first year pro Willem Wauters, the prospect of stepping down to procontinental level might be disastrous for the team. "If you sign with a World Tour team and they relegate to another level, you are free to leave."
How long riders like Dutch champion Johnny Hoogerland, Wout Poels, Thomas de Gendt and young sprinters like Danny van Poppel and Barry Markus are willing to wait, remains to be seen.