Leading women’s squad Boels-Dolmans today made an appeal for new sponsors after Boels and Dolmans Landscaping announced they were pulling out.
The squad’s future was recently questioned when it was revealed they have not registered to be one of the new WorldTeams to be introduced for the 2020 season, which required a financial commitment of four years.
However, the team has announced its intention to continue, with ambitious plans to increase its roster from 12 to 18 women in order to run a double programme and develop younger riders.
“I think you must show what ambitions you have,” said team sports director Danny Stam at a press conference in Harrogate ahead of Saturday’s Road World Championships elite women’s road race.
“If you speak with new potential sponsors then you explain where we want to go with women’s cycling. You can see that it’s growing that fast and that actually we need to continue with that if we want to be a part of the increase in women’s cycling.”
The team has dominated in recent years, topping the UCI Women’s WorldTour team standings every year since the series was introduced in 2016 and winning that year’s team time trial world championships.
The year before that Britain’s Lizzie Deignan was the first of four consecutive road world champions from the Dutch registered squad, with reigning champion Anna van der Breggen looking to defend the rainbow bands on Saturday.
While this year has not brought the success of previous seasons, the team have dominated World and WorldTour rankings, and are set to close 2020 leading both.
Both Boels and Dolmans are some of the longest serving sponsors in the sport. Dolmans Landscaping began its first women’s team in 2012, with Boels Rental joining a year later. After a couple of quiet years, 2014 saw the team begin to dominate, with Deignan winning the first of two consecutive World Cups.
“We have fulfilled all our goals and all our dreams, and it has come to a moment when we are stopping as sponsors of the team,” said Erwin Jansen, boss of Dolmans Landscaping and also the team’s manager.
“We are talking [with potential sponsors] but not more than that,” explained Jansen, who confirmed they would be looking for a budget between €2-2.5 million.
After years backing events like Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, Boels Rental will also withdraw from race sponsorship after the 2020 season.
With a number of men’s WorldTour teams starting women’s squads there is, of course the chance the team would join with one of those. Jumbo-Visma have been growing in recent seasons and are located in the Maastricht area, as are Boels-Dolmans.
However, Stam wants to remain as an independent entity. “At the moment there is no interest from the men’s teams so that is not an issue,” he continued. “In normal life we speak about independent women, and I think it gives something extra if you have an independent women’s team what can still be the number one.”
Despite the news, the team will be hoping one of their riders will make it five consecutive rainbow jerseys on Saturday afternoon.
Five of their riders take the start in Bradford with defending champion Anna van der Breggen joined by 2016 and 17 champions Amalie Dideriksen and Chantal Blaak, with Amy Pieters and Christine Majerus also in with a chance.