The clock is ticking for the Boels-Dolmans team to find a new set of title sponsors.
Luckily for the team, it has more than a year to complete that task.
In September, the Dutch squad revealed that its two longtime title sponsors, Boels Rental and Dolmans Landscaping Group, both planned to depart following the 2020 season. According to Danny Stam, the team’s longtime director, the decision to announce the sponsorship news as early as possible has given the team enough time to find the right set of financial backers.
“Everyone understands you don’t sign a contract in two months’s time for a lot of money,” Stam told VeloNews. “We want companies to be able to think about it without making any stupid moves, from both sides. We’ll have to build a long relationship. We did that with Boels-Doelmans. It’s not something that you do over one night. We want to have a good partnership and with time you can work out exactly how you want it.”
Stam is seeking a sizable amount of money to keep the squad going. In a recent interview with the website Voxwomen.com, Stam pegged the squad’s annual budget at 2.5 million Euro. He is seeking a four-year commitment from the companies, putting the total spend at 10 million Euro.
“There is not a long queue in front of the door with people asking to get involved,” Stam said.
Founded in 2010 with Dolmans as a title sponsor, the Dutch squad added Boels Rental in 2012 and became a force within women’s pro cycling shortly thereafter. In recent years Boels-Dolmans became one of the most dominant squads in the history of women’s cycling, topping the UCI Women’s WorldTour team standings every year since the series’s debut in 2016.
Its riders swept the UCI road world championships from 2015 through 2018, with Lizzie Deignan, Amalie Dideriksen, Chantal Blaak, and Anna van der Breggen all taking the rainbow stripes. The squad’s faced tougher competition in 2019, with other squads such as CCC-Liv, Trek-Segafredo, and Mitchelton-Scott gaining ground.
Stam said the impending sponsorship change will not change the team’s sporting goals in 2020. The squad will again target the Women’s WorldTour and UCI calendars, targeting wins throughout the season.
“We don’t have a different strategy for 2020,” Stam said. “It’s more that we want to have a great season as usual. We want to show the sponsors Boels-Dolmans that they can be proud and say goodbye in a good way. It’s in everyone’s interest to do as well as possible.”
For some of the women on the squad, 2020 will be challenging for reasons totally independent of the team’s future: next summer’s Olympic Games. Stam is hopeful that at least eight of the squad’s 12 riders will participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
“If we can have three riders on the track and five riders on the road, that would be pretty good,” Stam said.
Another change to the 2020 season has to do with structural changes in women’s pro cycling enacted by the UCI. With the changes going into effect at the beginning of the season, women’s WorldTour licenses have only been issued to teams who could meet the UCI’s “sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria” for the duration of the four-year license period.
Without financial backing after the end of the 2020 season, said Stam, the team was automatically excluded from applying. Although this also exempts the Boels-Dolmans squad from the new UCI minimum salary and benefits requirements for women’s WorldTour teams, Stam said that none of the changes were likely to have a significant effect on how much the team will race, nor on their level of support.
Since Boels-Dolmans is inside the top-five on the UCI’s team rankings, it has guaranteed invite to WorldTour races in 2020.
“We were one of the first teams who had salaries at the highest levels,” he said. “It doesn’t change a lot for us. With the races, either. We will likely only have seven or eight WorldTour teams and you need more than that for a race”
Stam remains lukewarm on the UCI’s new rules governing women’s professional road cycling. He pegged the rule changes as half positive, half negative.
“It’s good to have some extra rules, security for the riders, salaries for the riders,” Stam said. “But it’s not easy to find a company that makes a contract for four years. A lot of smaller teams will struggle with it. We do already.”