Giant-Shimano's future is not as certain as the team presentation suggested in January. According to Algemeen Dagblad Giant has signed up as main sponsor of the team for one year only, and not the announced four years. Furthermore, it has been suggested that Shimano could also take a step back. Giant-Shimano manager Iwan Spekenbrink is confident that current negotiations between the Taiwanese bike brand and the Dutch team will be successful.
"Our meetings are going well. Its about whether they continue [sponsorship] and how competitive we want to be as a team and how high the budget will be," Spekenbrink said. "We vouched for this team for one year," Giant's marketing director Tom Davies confirms. "We, or mainly the big bosses in Taiwan, decide in the upcoming period if we continue as title sponsor."
For the riders this news came as a surprise. "I was told that Giant was onboard for four years," Tom Veelers said. "I have a two-year contract and as far as I know I'll ride with Giant-Shimano next year." Tom Dumoulin acknowledged that it was news to him, too. "I don't recall what we were told exactly but I always thought Giant was in it for the coming years."
Giant-Shimano has a very successful start to the season with 17 victories already by the men's team including Gent-Wevelgem (John Degenkolb), Scheldeprijs (Marcel Kittel) and wins by young talents like Tobias Ludvigsson, Luka Mezgec, Jonas Ahlstrand and Tom Dumoulin. Giant-Shimano is the most successful women's team at the moment with eight victories including the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Amy Pieters and the Tour of Qatar for Kirsten Wild.
But in December of 2013 the team's future hung in the balance only a few days before the UCI deadline passed. An unknown American benefactor contacted Spekenbrink to take over title sponsorship from Argos. The oil company faced some internal financial and power struggles and wouldn't block this deal with the unknown American charity organization. They took a step back but all of a sudden the Americans withdrew their offer and Spekenbrink was left with nothing.
“We had the chance to sign with another company, where we believed that there were more prospectives,” Spekenbrink told Cyclingnews in January. “This company wanted to sign for four years. So for that reason, we reached a termination agreement with Argos, in order to sign with this other company.
Main riders like Marcel Kittel, including his complete sprint train, John Degenkolb and Tom Dumoulin all signed new contracts with a future that seemed secure.
But things soon turned sour. "They said they thought it was too early to sponsor a cycling team," Spekenbrink tells Algemeen Dagblad today. "Were we naive? In hindsight yes. We already had new clothing fabricated worth hundreds of thousands of euro. Now everything was hanging by a thread. What would have happened if we had found no sponsor? I don't know."
Together with Giant's Tom Davies, Spekenbrink will try to get compensation from the Americans. "It might take years before we win this case but if we win it, we win together."
It shows Giant and Spekenbrink get along well. The deal to sponsor the team's bikes was already in place. Team Belkin switched to Bianchi after Giant was not willing to save the, then Blanco team. A WorldTour team is too expensive, the Taiwanese management decided in 2013 before the Americans of Belkin came onboard as title sponsor.
While there is only certainty for one year, the chances that Giant remains title sponsor are good, Davies says. "We are happy with how things are going. The riders are doing great, the main riders are under contract for several years and in Taiwan they also look differently at title sponsorship of a WorldTour team now," the marketing director concluded.
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