Giant steps up support of Argos after title sponsor backs out

An unnamed U.S. company that was slated to be the team's title sponsor backed out

ALICANTE, Spain (VN) — Reports coming out of the Netherlands that Argos-Shimano’s new sponsor pulled out in the final hour will not endanger the team’s immediate future, team officials said Wednesday.

The Dutch daily De Telegraaf reported that bike manufacturer Giant is poised to back the team for 2014 after an unnamed U.S. company set to take over the Dutch team for three years retreated.

A team spokesman said the team’s future is secure for at least this season.

“We are a confirmed team for 2014 with a new partner,” team spokesman Geert Broekhuizen told VeloNews on Wednesday. “I cannot say anything else about that, except that it will be announced during the team presentation Monday.”

Last October, team management announced a new backer was set to assume title sponsorship for three seasons, but De Telegraaf reported Wednesday it pulled out of its commitment following the UCI deadline last fall.

The newspaper also reported that Giant, the Taiwanese bike manufacturer, would step up its financial backing to keep the team afloat for the 2014 season, giving team management a cushion to look for new backers going toward 2015.

Team officials and riders were mum on the topic when queried by VeloNews during a visit to a team training camp earlier this week.

Several of the team’s major stars, including Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb, have confirmed contracts through 2016.

“I have no reason to leave this team,” Kittel said. “This team is perfect for me, everyone is working together as a unit, and we keep improving. We are all very happy here.”

Team officials said more details would be revealed Monday in the team presentation in the Netherlands.