With the new season already underway in Australia, Boels-Dolmans have not yet found a new sponsor for 2021.
Despite being the world’s top-ranked women’s team for the past four years, last September lead sponsors Boels Rental and Dolmans Landscaping announced they were withdrawing from the sport. Team management has been looking for new backers ever since.
“We are pretty busy with it, we are working hard. We’ve had a couple of disappointments but that is expected. We are in a good way,” team manager and lead sports director Danny Stam told Cycling Weekly.
Rather than racing the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under this weekend, the Dutch squad’s riders are currently prepairing for their traditional, European start to the season, apparently not worried by the uncertainty.
“Even without a sponsor it’s good to make the season as good as possible. We have the same budget so we have the normal training camps and normal way of working into the season,” said Stam, who is confident of retaining his stellar squad.
“They have a lot of trust in us at the moment and I don’t believe they are trying to leave or work out something different before the spring season is done. Of course, there are teams who are probably knocking on the door, but a rider like Anna [van der Breggen] or Chantal [Blaak], they are good enough to find a team.
“But at this moment they have what they want so they don’t have a reason to panic.”
Stam has been with the team since 2013, with the help of the Boels and Dolmans taking them from little more than a club team to by far the best team on the women’s sport. In 2014 Lizzie Deignan - then Armitstead - won the first of two consecutive World Cup series with the team.
From then on they seemed able to win at will. First Megan Guarnier, then Anna van der Breggen won the individual Women’s WorldTour standings, and they have led the team classification for each of the series’ four years.
Even in 2019 they were equal top for Women’s WorldTour victories, but their sponsorship issues meant they were unable to join the top tier of WorldTeams, and they won fewer races overall.
“If you have four or five years where you win every race that you want to win, how good is that?” asserts Stam, explaining the rising level in the women’s peloton made fewer wins inevitable.
“A lot of teams are coming with so many good riders and different ways of racing and it makes it more interesting. The Trek team have a very strong squad, CCC-Liv is developing more and more. It makes it more difficult, but for women’s cycling, in general, it’s very good.”
For Boels-Dolmans spring 2020 will be key. Not only will success attract the sponsorship they need to continue into next year, the Olympics will affect team goals as the season progresses.
“It’s always a difficult season with the Olympics,” Stam explains. “It is also difficult to manage because we all know that the Olympics is one of the most important races, so we try to plan the season to keep everybody happy and they can reach the goals they want.
“The spring is definitely the highlight. We can definitely count on Chantal [Blaak], we can count on Anna [van der Breggen], we can count on Amy [Pieters]. We have some riders going to the track worlds in the beginning of March and from that point on we try for highlights with the key riders, then make a switch and prepare for the Olympics.”
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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