Corendon CEO on company's merger with Sunweb: Two cycling teams is a bit much

Mathieu van der Poel's Corendon-Circus team and the Sunweb squad of riders including Tom Dumoulin and Michael Matthews may in future be affected by the still-in-progress merger between the two teams' main sponsors, according to the Dutch media.

Dutch cycling website on Wednesday cited an interview that Corendon CEO Steven van der Heijden did with Dutch radio broadcaster BNR this week.

In it, Van der Heijden admitted that he wasn't sure what the coming-together of his company with Sunweb might mean for the teams in the future, but did say that "two cycling teams is a bit much" for one parent company.

It was reported in June that the Dutch travel company Corendon Holiday Group had been bought by Swedish investment company Triton, which already owns holiday company Sunweb.

"Two cycling teams is of course a bit much. The moment we jointly present ourselves to the market, that will become an important topic," Van der Heijden said during the interview.

"We will naturally respect the contracts that we have," he continued. "In our case, they will continue for more than a year. But then, of course, everything is still open. It also depends on which brand name you continue with. If you go to one brand name, it would be strange to continue to sponsor two cycling teams. If you continue with two brand names, you might still be able to [run two teams].

"But they're not really our cycling teams," pointed out Van der Heijden. "We [Corendon] are the main sponsor of a team that is an independent entity. It's not our team. We don't determine what happens. Whatever we do will depend on the dialogue between the team, the main sponsor and the other sponsors. We'll see what the outcome will be."

Van der Heijden also confirmed that the Corendon-Circus team had been talking to WorldTour team Katusha-Alpecin about a possible merger.

"It's still very fresh," he told BNR, "but of course it's being talked about. However, it's too early to say anything about it because no decisions have yet been taken."

While Sunweb team leader Dumoulin is rumoured to have fallen out with his team's management, and may be on his way to Jumbo-Visma in the future, Corendon-Circus star rider Van der Poel – winner of this year's Amstel Gold Race – told WorldTour teams that expressed an interest in signing him earlier this year that "they will have to wait", reiterating his commitment to Corendon-Circus, with whom he is contracted until the end of 2023.

Current Katusha co-sponsor Alpecin – a German shampoo product – and bike supplier Canyon have already been linked to Van der Poel and Corendon-Circus for next season, putting Katusha into grave danger of shuttering its doors at the end of this season due to the expected budget shortfall, with team management having told riders that are out of contract this year that they're free to look for other teams for 2020.

However, Katusha team owner Igor Makarov has suggested that he'd be prepared to finance the team out of his own pocket next season – at least to honour riders whose contracts run over into next season – while there have also been rumours of a merger with the Israel Cycling Academy team and, this week, a suggestion that former Tinkoff team manager Bjarne Riis could be interested in buying Katusha from Makarov.

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