Skil has ended its relationship with Iwan Spekenbrink's Pro Continental Skil-Shimano squad but the Dutch manager has announced that the team will unveil a new title sponsor at the start of the season. The new team is aiming to reach the ranks of the WorldTour and has a three-year sponsorship deal in place.
Cyclingnews understands that the team had been searching for a new backer for 2012 and that although Skil was willing to remain as a secondary sponsor it did not fit with the team's plans for the future.
The new sponsor has signed a three-year deal, and will be joined by Shimano Inc. (bicycle parts), Felt Bicycles (frames) and Pearl Izumi (cycling clothes) as the team's main backers.
In a press release issued by the team, Spekenbrink thanked Skil: "The management is grateful to its current main sponsor Skil for the pleasant and successful cooperation and the confidence of the past years. As Skil-Shimano, the young cycling structure has experienced a steady growth and has established a firm basis by working with a clear view, clear core values and a personal philosophy."
The team is still aiming for a spot in the WorldTour and places in the major Grand Tours, something that has eluded them since its Tour de France debut in 2009.
"The new set-up allows the team to definitively join the international cycling top. The main sponsor will be presented in spring of 2012 as a central part of its new marketing and communication strategy."
"The five guidelines, collected under the working title 1t4i (Team spirit, Inspiration, Integrity, Improvement, Innovation), form a short summary of the mission, view, core values and method the team represents and that are also shared by the partners of the team."
Along with the new title sponsor the team will change its base location from Holland to the south of France.
The women's team will remain as part of the project for 2012 and step up to the UCI level.
In a welcome and certainly original move, the team also claims that it will run a C02-neutral programme. "Moreover, the team functions as ambassador of the non-profit organization 'Trees for Travel', that applies itself to the maintenance of the environment by means of CO2-emission reduction and compensation."
The team signed a number of high profile riders in the off-season, including John Degenkolb and Patrick Gretsch. They also retained Marcel Kittel and Alexandre Geniez, two of the most promising young riders in the professional peloton.
"Project 1t4i expects to be a WorldTour team in the new season of 2013. The team clearly has a French heart, a German spine and a Dutch basis, with an international focus, which is in line with the company activities of the main sponsor and other partners.
"We are very proud that we've succeeded in connecting a big international partner to our team and that we have the trust of our other partners. This enables us to realize this ambitious project and join the global elite of cycling. We eagerly look forward to the future and are very motivated to shape this project further."