Brussels – The Rabobank team, left high and dry by the withdrawal of their sponsor from professional cycling, have found a new benefactor and will be able to start the 2013 season after all.
From January 1, the team will ride under the banner of Blanco Pro Cycling, the team's new Dutch manager announced on Thursday.
Rabobank, which has sponsored a professional cycling team for the last 17 years, announced in October that it would sever its ties with the team from December 31, claiming the sport had been irrevocably damaged by a succession of doping cases, notably the devastating Lance Armstrong affair.
The bank will, however, continue to sponsor a women's team, led by Olympic champion Marianne Vos, at least until the 2016 Games in Rio.
After the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) stripped Armstong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him for life, Rabobank were among the first to react.
“We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport,” Rabobank board member Bert Bruggink said in October.
“We are not confident that this will change for the better in the foreseeable future.”
He added: “What the Usada showed us is that international cycle racing is not only sick but also at the highest level within cycling, including a number of the relevant authorities, including checks on the use of doping,” he added.
Rabobank has been the standard-bearer for Dutch cycling and enjoyed success but it has also been mired in doping scandals, including one involving Danish rider Michael Rasmussen when he was wearing the leader's yellow jersey on the 2007 Tour de France. – Sapa-AFP