Vacansoleil has confirmed that they will end their sponsorship of their WorldTour team at the end of the season, effectively ending negotiations of a possible contract extension. The news comes a day after co-sponsor DCM announced that they would also end their association with the team at the end of 2013.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the team announced, “The management of Vacansoleil-DCM was informed by its title sponsor Vacansoleil of the fact that they won’t renew the sponsorship agreement. A sponsor from the start, Vacansoleil saw the team grow since 2009, and they reached their goals with the sponsorship within five years' time.”
In March, team manager Dan Luijkx was still hopeful of Vacansoleil signing on for another contract, telling Cyclingnews, "I had a meeting with Vacansoleil, and they're still waiting for April or May to decide. For sure, it's not decided that they will not continue and we have the freedom to talk with other main sponsors, but if we find something else, we will come back to Vacansoleil as they can still take over the deal. We're talking to several parties worldwide and if one of them wants to sign, I'll go back to Vacansoleil as they might want to take it over."
Today Luijkx added that he was still in discussions with potential sponsors but he warned that cycling as a whole needed to take stock. He isn't the only team manager scrambling to save his team, with Blanco looking for a title sponsor for 2014 after Rabobank ended their 17-year association with the sport at the end of 2012.
"In the coming years, cycling has to adjust to become more attractive to multinationals," said Luijkx. "The business model needs to become healthier and the divided teams need to become a combined strength. Many teams understand this. Furthermore we need space for innovation in a sport which grows so fast for amateurs."
"We are talking to several parties who see the value of the sport in general and more specifically the team. This, for example, concerns getting a return of 10 times the invested sponsorship amount over the complete season. Potential partners also see the chances and challenges for the sport and that this generation is a group of riders who want to compete in an honest way. The fact that Wout Poels and Thomas De Gendt underlined in interviews that they feel at home and want to continue is an extra motivation to get the signature from new partners."
Luijkx was at pains to stress that Vacansoleil's departure was not based on the doping stories that have littered cycling. The Vacansoleil team haven't been immune to the negative headlines, having signed Riccardo Riccò and Ezekiel Mosquera in the past. They have kept José Rujano from competing after he was faced with allegations this spring.