Team Blanco is no more.
On Monday, the team announced a two and a half year sponsorship deal with electronics manufacturer Belkin that takes affect at the Tour de France on Saturday. The squad’s new name is Belkin Pro Cycling Team.
“With 19 victories this year and a new title sponsor, 2013 is shaping up to be a dream season for our team,” team general manager Richard Plugge said in a press release. “As a company, Belkin shares our values and global ambitions, so we are very excited to have them on board as our sponsor. We look forward to two and a half years of shared successes.”
The team’s jerseys, clothing, bikes, vehicles, website, and social media sites now sport a black, white, and green color scheme. The logos for Belkin and Linksys, which the former acquired earlier this year, are featured everywhere.
“Cycling relies on innovation to drive success and has a passionate, tech savvy fan base that follows the sport closely, which aligns really well with the Belkin brand,” Belkin founder and CEO Chet Pipkin said. “Associating our Belkin and Linksys brands with this successful, well-established pro cycling team enables us to introduce ourselves to millions of people around the world and interact with them.”
The deal was first rumored to have been signed earlier this month by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
The squad was formed in 1984 and has existed ever since under several names, most notably Rabobank from 1996-2012. But the Dutch bank announced last year that it was severing its sponsorship. Although it agreed to fund the team through the 2013 season, the naming rights were stripped.
Team bosses gave themselves a deadline of this summer to find a new sponsor; otherwise, they would have granted permission to their riders to find new teams for next season. Most notably, this would have included Robert Gesink, a strong all-around rider who usually finds himself on the list of favorites at every grand tour.
Gesink abandoned last month’s Giro after falling ill; his best finish in a grand tour is fifth at the 2010 Tour de France.
Based in Los Angeles, Belkin produces routers, mobile phone and computer accessories, surge protectors, and other electronic products.
Rabobank backed out of its sponsorship after news of past doping on the team, beginning in 1998, became known. It does, however, continue to sponsor the women’s Rabobank squad.