Blanco Cycling signs Belkin deal

From l to r: Bauke Mollema, Robert Gesink, Lars Boom of Belkin Pro CyclingThe Blanco team has been rebranded in its new Belkin livery

US consumer technology firm Belkin has become the title sponsor of the Blanco Pro men’s cycling team, which was formerly sponsored by Rabobank.

The 30-month deal will see them renamed as the Belkin Pro Cycling Team.

The new team will make its debut at this year’s Tour De France, which begins in Corsica this weekend.

Rabobank pulled out at the end of 2012, saying it was unconvinced the world of international professional cycling “can make this a clean and fair sport”.

The Dutch financial organisation had continued to fund the men’s team this year, despite the squad not carrying its name.

The monetary value of the new sponsorship deal has not been revealed.

‘Well-established team’

Explaining the deal, Chet Pipkin, Belkin’s chief executive, who also founded the firm in 1983, said cycling had “a passionate, tech-savvy fan base that follows the sport closely, which aligns really well with the Belkin brand”.

He also said the tie-up with such a “well-established pro cycling team” would enable the firm to introduce itself to millions of potential new customers around the world.

Belkin makes a variety of electronic products, from wireless home networking and entertainment products, to mobile accessories for smartphones and tablets, home automation and energy management tools, as well as USB and cable products.

The Playa Vista, California-based firm – which has 1,500 employees and sales in more than 100 countries – has signed on as title sponsor until the end of 2015, a period which will cover three Tour De France races.

The Belkin team will consist of 29 riders and five nationalities.

Its jersey and clothing, bikes, vehicles, website and social media properties are being updated with the new Belkin Pro Cycling Team logo and colours: black, white and green, and will feature both the Belkin and Linksys logos.

Top ten aim

Richard Plugge, general manager of Belkin Pro Cycling, told the BBC that the sponsorship deal was a great boost for the team, which has won 19 races as far this season.

Looking ahead to the Tour De France he said that the team’s goal was to get rider Bauke Mollema as highly placed within the top ten finishers as possible.

He said if Mollama “does a good job and the circumstances are right” then that could potentially be towards the higher end of the top ten.

“We won’t be happy with third, if second place appears possible,” he added.

On the question of doping in cycling, he said he thought there had been a change in the culture of the sport, and that the team would have a “harsh” and “zero-tolerance” approach to doping or any other misdemeanours.

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