Although mountain bikers were not specifically mentioned by Rabobank in news earlier today that the company was ending its cycling team title sponsorship in the wake of recent doping scandals in professional road cycling, they will be affected by the fallout.
On Friday morning, Rabobank management had announced that its pro cycling teams would continue to exist in 2013, but under a "white label". The announcement specifically mentioned pro male and female road racers as well as cyclo-crossers, but mountain bikers were not named even though Rabobank is the co-title sponsor of the Rabobank-Giant Offroad team which races on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup circuit.
A spokesperson for the Pressoffice Rabobank confirmed to Cyclingnews on Friday afternoon that in fact, the mountain bikers were also affected.
"The professionals, including the mountain bike team, will be put under the new foundation during 2013. Riders of the 'white label' foundation won't wear jerseys with Rabobank on them, but Rabobank will honour the contracts with the riders."
The arrangement is like that already detailed for the elite road cycling teams.
The Rabobank-Giant Offroad team includes racers such as Fabian Giger, who is currently leading the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge and Emil Lindgren, who won today's stage 4 at the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge. Adam Craig, Pauline Ferrand Prevot, Michiel Van Der Heijden, Henk Jaap Moorlag and Rosara Joseph are some other mountain bikers sponsored by Rabobank.
Giger tweeted in response to the news, "Very sad news about Rabobank stops sponsoring.But i m sure @jantentusscher and @giantbicycles will build now a even better and stronger team."
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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