Etixx, who were unveiled as the team's new main sponsor for next season at the Tour de France's second rest day in Carcassonne, manufacture a range of sports-nutrition products, and are owned by the current main sponsor – the pharmaceutical company Omega Pharma.
Omega Pharma have been involved with cycling since 2003, when they were co-sponsors of a previous guise of the team, Quick Step-Davitamon, to publicise their Davitamon brand of vitamins. Omega Pharma then switched to Belgium's other big cycling team, Lotto, as the team's main sponsor via their various brands: first as Davitamon-Lotto from 2005 to 2006, then as Predictor-Lotto in 2007, to showcase their pregnancy-test products, before peddling Omega Pharma's anti-snoring products, Silence, as Silence-Lotto in 2008.
The parent company returned to the Quick Step set-up in 2012, and has been the main sponsor of Omega Pharma-Quick Step ever since, but 2015 marks the return to publicising Omega Pharma's subsidiaries, and Etixx will now headline the team for the next three seasons.
Team manager Patrick Lefevere is only too aware how valuable such a sponsorship commitment is in professional cycling, especially in today's economic climate, in which teams often only survive from one season to the next as main sponsors come and go.
"You know how you sometimes have those days when you're working hard but you're not feeling happy – when you don't appreciate how happy you should be?" Lefevere asked Cyclingnews. "I know that a lot of other teams have been living the last few years with a lot of insecurity, but, fortunately for me, my sponsors have actually been asking to stay themselves, because this team achieves such great results. Every big company wants to identify themselves with a winning team, and we are a winning team."
Lefevere also points to his team's international roster, which boasts 30 riders of 13 different nationalities, as a big draw for multinational companies.
"As of today, we've had 46 victories this year thanks to 13 different riders, which means a lot, especially when you have Mark Cavendish in the team," continued Lefevere, naming his star rider, who also flew in for the team's rest-day press conference, despite still suffering the after-effects of his Tour-ending crash on the first stage, where he tore ligaments in his shoulder.
The team also announced the re-signing of Tony Martin for a further two seasons. Martin won stage 9 of this year's race, and his team manager pointed to the German star's all-round ability as one of the main reasons that they were so keen to keep him on their books.
"Tony is such a lovely guy. Everybody adores him," Lefevere told Cyclingnews. "He's a champion who can win time trials and road stages, and help us to win team time trials. Plus, he doesn't feel that he's too good to do lead-outs for Mark in the sprints. At the Tour of Switzerland this year, he was on lead-out duty for Matteo Trentin, and almost dropped the whole bunch in the final kilometres.
"He's capable of winning anything, and his main goals for the next two years will be to try to take the yellow jersey in the opening time trial in Utrecht [in the Netherlands] at next year's Tour, and the Olympics in Rio in 2016."
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