1 + 1 = ?

Take two successful companies, merge them and the idea is that the enlarged business will be even better, with increased scale, more assets, cost-savings and the ability to take from the best of both sides. In theory one plus one will equal more than two.

In pro cycling things are very different. Merge two teams and you’ve got one team that’s no bigger than before, and several headaches. So the recent reports that the Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-Quickstep teams could merge are perplexing. Unless the Dutch team really can’t find a sponsor.

Merge two equally sized brewers or bicycle makers and the enlarged company can twice the sales as a a combined group but save costs by having only one head office, plus gain extra market share and purchasing power, that’s the usual justification for corporate mergers. For cycling teams though rosters are capped so merging two squads of 30 riders is carnage, 30+30 has to equal 30 or fewer. Riders have to be released, likewise support staff. Plus all this is disruptive as management time is consumed, cultures clash and so on. It’s why mergers in pro cycling have been more akin to shotgun weddings, arranged in haste to ensure a team survives, think Garmin and Cervélo; or admin measures like Wanty picking up the old CCC World Tour team licence.

Looking at a Jumbo-Visma merger with Soudal-Quickstep, we first got a report on Wielerflits. Since then Soudal-Quickstep management have emailed their riders to say “there have been ongoing discussions with a number of parties in the last months” and “there are no concrete projects” so we know talks are happening but no deal is done. “Concrete” can mean an inked deal so everything could be in place up to this final step. Or not of course… but they wouldn’t be emailing riders if this was a non-story.

Just imagine how strong a combined team would be with Vingegaard, Roglič, Van Aert, Kooij, Kuss, Laporte, Van Baarle, Jorgenson, Staune-Mittet and more. And these are the just the Jumbo-Visma riders. Quickstep’s still a great team but they’re clearly not the force they used to be and you name the niche – GC rider, classics contender, sprinter, workhorse – and the Dutch team already has it filled. Bringing Evenepoel on board would make them even stronger but how to manage his ambitions of winning the Tour with those of others like Jonas Vingegaard who expect to be leader in July and have a track record of delivery too? Plus of the two galactic riders at the Belgian team (legally Luxembourg-registered of course), they’ve been talking about unloading one and other’s talked about leaving: Patrick Lefevere’s been public about the wage costs of Julian Alaphilippe; while big star Remco Evenepoel and his entourage spent the height of summer talking to other teams before being reminded they have a contract but he’s clearly looking to move and the team would be too top heavy with him on board.

What’s the one thing Soudal-Quickstep has that Jumbo-Visma doesn’t? Sponsorship perhaps. Jumbo’s deal can last until the end of the end of next season but the Dutch team needs financing beyond this, and needs it today. It has to budget for the years to come and also reassure riders and their agents that they’re good for the money in the years to come, there’s no point signing a contract with a team if the money is going to dry up.

Jumbo-Visma doesn’t have the biggest budget in the World Tour but its costs have jumped. The wage bill has grown, bonuses add up, plus it seems expense items like training camps and support staff taken on in the dream to win the Tour de France have now become the team’s base case for annual spending. Put simply the team’s costs have risen significantly and it needs a hefty replacement title sponsor.

But as we’ve seen with Soudal itself, sponsors can move around teams. Soudal used to sponsor the team known today as Lotto-Dstny, indeed there’s a merry-go-round of Flemish sponsors that hop among squads over the years. So a merger is a complicated way for Jumbo-Visma to tap into this cashflow but it maybe the only route because as much as sponsors can hop about, it’s not done at the click of fingers and maybe Soudal could be tied in contractually for some time.

Embed from Getty Images

Soudal is an interesting case as it’s a relatively big business that’s owned by a family, notably founder Vic Swerts, pictured, who likes his sport, a deal can make commercial sense but also please the owner. He’d surely like to have Remco Evenepoel on board as everything else being equal he’d probably want to win the Tour with a Belgian rider more than a Dane. So Evenepoel’s exit to Ineos isn’t so simple, stay and he’d be on board with a team that is winning grand tours, has the infrastructure to back him and also a sponsor behind him.

As a thought exercise, is Evenepoel the asset that’s underpinning Quickstep, or a symptom of the team’s demise as they struggle to back his ambitions, cannibalising their Wolfpack “a lot of them win a lot” style? It’s worthy of a separate discussion but merger talk seems to reveal exit routes for Patrick Lefevere and the team’s reduced status. Talk of Lefevere sitting on an “advisory board” is jargon for taking a step back (sidenote: Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge probably doesn’t need much advice).

Another tangent is that this isn’t the first merger story of the year. We’ve had Ineos and Soudal-Quickstep which is interesting as again the Belgian team is trying to combine in order to continue and it’s also an exit route for Patrick Lefevere although he can can always retire and enjoy both his wine cellar and his status as the Don of Flemish road cycling without a complicated merger. There’s also the merger where Ineos was said to take on the whole Quickstep team as a means of securing Evenepoel. That’s akin to buying a car dealership just because you want one of the cars parked on the forecourt. But Ineos’s issues aren’t over given their rider exodus with Luke Plapp yet another leaving; and the other chatter was a merger with Movistar, unlikely but you wonder if something has to happen with the British team.

Bike sponsors can play a role but it’s between Pon, by some measures the world’s largest bicycle company and owner of the Cervélo brand, and Specialized with its big marketing budget where it hard three teams in the last Tour de France and you can set your watch to the timing of their press releases and product launches in the cycling media. So no advantage or big angle here, both will pay a premium to back a top team.

Of course there’s more than the men’s teams. Jumbo-Visma have their in-house women’s team, but the AG Insurance–Soudal–Quick-Step team is not a direct part of the Soudal-Quickstep team in the same way, but given the shared sponsors, they’re inevitably part of the merger outcome even if they’re not at the table.

Also there’s the rest of the World Tour. Should any World Tour teams merge, combining two teams means one of their WorldTeam licences gets sent back to the UCI. A licence can be valuable if there are more applicants than places for the World Tour but if there isn’t any clamour from an extra team to get promoted then the licence itself isn’t valuable, see Katusha’s old licence selling for one Euro or Intermarché getting into the World Tour after picking up the old BMC/CCC licence for next to nothing. Anyway if Quickstep probably won’t be able to sell the licence to recoup any costs spend on a merger, one consequence here is that a team with ambitions for the World Tour can apply as there could be a place freed up. Lotto-Dstny, Israel-PremierTech and Uno-X will all be interested but they’re all in the “goldilocks” position of being neither too hot when it comes to costs nor being frozen out: they’re almost guaranteed a Tour start but without the added costs of being a World Tour team.

The current merger story is just the latest merger version with Quickstep involved. “Why?” was the thought on reading news that Jumbo-Visma and Soudal-Quickstep could combine. Pro cycling team mergers don’t work in the classic way, they’ve often only made sense when two imploding teams had to combine to survive, it’s been more about 0.5+0.5=1 than 1+1=2. They’re defensive measures rather than expansion plans and one good reason for a merger could be a means for the Dutch team to tap the Belgian team’s sponsors.

115 thoughts on “1 + 1 = ?”

  1. I thought Jumbo Visma was getting sponsorship from Saudi Arabia?! That was the last I heard anyway.
    Its hard to see what Evenepoel would bring to JV beyond problems, and perhaps an improved chance of winning Liege. You never know though, give him whatever they have for breakfast and Remco might suddenly stop having those off days.
    From a purely sporting view I hope this doesn’t happen. Far too many good riders are already riding for, rather than against, each other.

    • That was another rumour / trial balloon floated by Wielerflits.
      Either they are really well dialed into whatever happens behind the scenes at JV management, or they have a big imagination. More likely to be the former though, as neither of the rumours have been directly denied.
      The Saudi Arabia rumours have apparently led to a lot of backlash among fans and, more importantly, co-sponsors who weren’t keen on undemocratic oil money, so the SQS merger came up as Plan B?

    • If he can cash out. How much is the team worth? There was talk of “American investors” being interested in the team but nobody “invests” in a team to make money, and if they did his stake wouldn’t be worth that much.

  2. Was waiting for INRNG’s observations which are always on the money, pardon the pun. This leads to the elephant in the room which is that you would think sponsors would be falling over themselves to be associated with JV. I can’t get my head around the fact they can’t get a sponsor after winning all three grand tours and can even fill the top 3 places in the European mens road race just this weekend.

    • It ought to be the top offer for a sponsor. But it’s not obvious either, is the team too big for a Dutch sponsor like Jumbo, but too small for a big global brand given cycling’s audience worldwide isn’t that big? The team has had a big sponsor like Belkin before but I think one reason for Belkin’s exit was that they found the team’s reach wasn’t as global as they wanted. All the same there are still plenty of corporate sponsors that would be ideal, and that’s before we consider the Saudis, billionaires wanting a toy etc.

      • Belkin only sponsored the team for what I believe was one year because it was dirt cheap for them to do so in the chaos after the doping revelations at Rabobank. Belkin had no interest to be a longer term sponsor of a cycling team.

      • And unfortunately this is the issue facing cycling. It really isn’t a financially viable decision for any real corporate sponsor. Jumbo Visma is a key team in one of the biggest markets for our sport and their best option is to merge with the enemy, effectively taking out one of the top two teams in our sport’s history. This is an example of our sport’s regular contraction, except it is being marketed as a “big news revelation” and touted as a positive thing… I see this for what it is, our sport’s chronic inability to create a sustainable model.

        • I have to agree, it’s a really damning indictment of our sport: Jumbo have just had the best Grand Tour season ever and yet are still struggling for sponsorship. Something has to change but I can’t really see how

          • Exactly it is what it is. Maybe a fitting end to a team that had massive highs but some pretty telling lows – eg. pulling the Tour favourite after an unforgettable battle with Contador.

            Pretty clear to this fan that Rabobank/Jumbo-Visma had a great run but maybe it needs to end to bring in a clean start for a new group. At least from an appearance point of view J-V are on another planet right now (for whatever reasons) and a shakeup won’t be a bad thing.

  3. Jeez, imagine managing a combined team and having Old Man Lefevre kvetching behind the scenes (or in the media).
    I’d demand a gagging clause in any contract.

  4. If you’re LaFevere now is the time to sell out. He has 2 aces in his pocket.

    Assets: cycling sponsor contract + arguably the hottest rider on the planet

    LeFevere’s license is worth something but after that not much more with a cycling team. Plus the guaranteed race invites. Used equipment is sold for pennies and haggled about.

    If Lefevere owns 20% of the merged team it will probably be an earn out over time as the acquiring team can’t pay him all the money.
    QSD’s major owner, Bakala gets paid fully out in a merger?
    PR will make a big deal of the total price as a way to inflate the value of World Tour Licenses. Without a buyer’s market the value of a WT license isn’t there.

    The best thing for cycling would be Remco to a new team, Primoz bolts for another team. Than the Tours have 3-5 teams battling for jerseys.

    What does this do to relegation?

    • There are a few ways that this could realistically go in terms of the impact on WorldTour promotion/relegation. It will depend on what is done with the licence of the team which is not continuing.

      A) licence is returned to the UCI, and the UCI opens applications for a current ProTeam to move up to WorldTeam on a 2 year licence. 2024-25 would therefore have 18 WorldTeams and the application process for 2026-28 would proceed as normal with 18 WorldTeam licences available.

      B) licence is returned to the UCI, and the UCI decides to hold the licence for the remaining two years. 2024-25 would have 17 WorldTeams and extra spots for ProTeams at races, then the licences would expire on schedule with the resulting application process resulting in 18 WorldTeams for 2026-28.

      C) UCI decides to bypass the regulations or the regulations are found to be an illegal restraint of trade, and the licence is permitted to be transferred from SDQ to whoever they choose to sell it to.

      What I’m hoping for is actually an option D, where the UCI takes back the licence and amends the regulations to establish that this WorldTeam licence will not be replaced and the 2026-28 applications will be for 16 WorldTeams only, establishing a pathway forward to make a better place in the sport for ProTeams.

    • Le Mondster – completely agree. The value of these teams is very little in real terms. As you mentioned the value is almost entirely a top (one of the top-5/10) riders contracts, implying there is virtually no value in the team itself.

      But this is part of the excitement of this sport, it is constantly changing. We are facing a 2024 peloton that looks very different from 2023, much less 2019 or 2014. How many seemingly invincible teams have disappeared over time? For a variety of reasons.

  5. I wonder if there’s a change of control clause in Remco’s contract which would allow him to get out and got to Ineos. I assume JV management would prefer that anyway. I do hope the Apple sponsorship comes to fruition because I’d like to see both teams continue I want to see one more season of Alaphilippe underperformance and the nonsense vitriol that will come from Pat L as a result. I like it when he embarrasses himself.

    • That is a very good point about Apple. And it’s worth noting that Plugge and Tim Cook recently met in person in the Netherlands – JV had a photo on twitter.

        • Apple TV+ airs or streams baseball and soccer. It´s admittedly a long stretch, but could it be they might be considering the pros and cons of buying the rights to show road cycling?

          (I have no idea whether the success of Sepp Kuss has changed the scene in the U.S. at all, but in case it really has, it might make some sense.)

          • The Velo Outside piece linked in below comments has a section on “Cook promotes Apple’s VR glasses as new way to watch the Tour de France” – Cook’s quotes seem to indicate this is about Apple VR tie-ins and promotion. Presumably doing some content deal with JV.

        • Apple won’t partner with a sport with very public cheating, doping and sports washing PR issues.

          Apple may be interested in its own Sports-documentary for Apple TV. Possibly on a team or the tour though.

          • Then why do they sponsor football (soccer)? Apple was the main money source that allowed Inter Miami to get Leo Messi to the MLS.

            And there is more doping there than in cycling nowadays… (Not to mention all the sports washing & cheating, of course.)

        • Somers – absolutely, Apple or Amazon won’t be coming to pro cycling. They have no reason to come to this sport. Their owners are not patrons. Apple’s owners have a Board that looks at spreadsheets…. None of which will say go spend $45M on a bike team.

    • Happy to be corrected on this but my understanding is that in cycling if the paying agent changes then contracts are null and void for all riders by default under UCI rules. If this deal goes ahead then most likely the company that operates team JV will buy the company that operates team SQ. So not just Remco but all SQ riders can go to another team so some riders will be paid to leave and also get new contracts elsewhere.

      • As in what Brian Cookson said, there isn’t really any such thing as a team merger in cycling, one company has to buy the other and either shut it down or asset strip it and sell it on. Either way no rider can be forced to transfer from the bought company to the buying company, there is the option to either walk or accept new terms with the buyer.

  6. I can see Jumbo not having to much trouble getting a sponsor. But can they get a sponsor who can supply enough money for the team they have purchased. Thats probably the hard part. And as they a still a year away from losing the current sponsor they are in no hurry.
    They seem to have a stronger team than sky at the peak with the top team in every type of race not just GC. It must be expensive and need the correct sponsor.

    • Sky never had the strongest team in every race. They focused on the the Tour, the Tour and only the Tour. They were strong for sure but other wins were a bonus. jumbo Visma need a new sponsor in place now for certainly – a team can slowly disintegrate as time clicks down on the current deal with nothing new confirmed.

    • If Jumbo-Visma was having an easy time finding a new sponsor, why is merging (and the subsequent downsizing) with a major competitor the seemingly best option?

  7. It would keep it all Benelux I suppose but they would end up with an excess of leaders. One imagines that is the focus of the discussions.
    Kaden Groves to win MSR … you read it here first.

  8. The photo of Richard Plugge meeting with Apple’s Tim Cooke is intriguing. It could mean a major sponsorship deal, or it could mean moving all of Jumbo’s race documentaries over to Apple TV to compete with Netflix. I personally don’t see how a Soudal merger would be positive for Jumbo, especially if it would mean Lefevere taking an active role in the new team. It would be kind of like a dinosaur trying to fly a spaceship. When there were rumors about a Soudal – Ineos merger, it actual made a lot of sense (through even there, do you want Lefevere making the decisions?).

    • How were the rumours about the Ineos merger more believable? The Ineos boss might be mega rich but he’s hardly going to take the most expensive route possible to signing Evenepoel.

    • Lefevere taking an active role in the new team. It would be kind of like a dinosaur trying to fly a spaceship
      made my morning!!!
      without inside knowledge – JV-Soudal does not seem to make sense – but Ineos Soudal might actually do(some commentator mentioned that Ineos had made very few contract renewals….)
      Regarding Lefevere – many of his recent comments have been on the wrong side of history – I dont know how avtive he is involved in race tactics – but his race craft might be very legit.

  9. JV’s wages have most certainly risen but we should not forget that JV besides the cycling-setup for men and women also employs a full contingent of 25 speed skaters + staff. Allowing for a small overlap, and though this probably isn’t a big deal outside of NED and wages likely aren’t big, still they must be paid adding to the economic burden of JV and sponsors.

  10. From this fan’s point of view the merger would be negative. The sport needs a number of teams who can compete for GT victories. Any merger of JV with Ineos or Soudal would reduce those – already slim – numbers leaving the rest to hope for stages, GC placings or secondary jerseys. That’s not much for the EFs, G-FDJs and DSMs of the peloton.

    I suppose we had similar one team dominance from Faema and Molteni in the late sixties and early seventies but that was down to one brilliant and versatile rider rather than an armada.

    As for JV, continuation with a reduced budget might make for better racing, or maybe they can share their breakfast recipe with the rest.

    • like inrng pointed out, it’s unlikely ALL of those stars align under this supposed new team. i personally see it as a good way for those mega-stars to spread out with evenpoel freed from the contract and probably roglic out to another team. i could easily see them moving to ineos and trek respectively.

  11. I’d like to see a successful team build a kind of sponsor cooperative or club for business and supporters, a little but like football clubs in the German leagues.
    With J-Vs connections across Denmark and the N of NL there have to be interests in renewable energy and information services, as well as more traditional industries like transportation, shipping services or agriculture, they could make their team a flag carrier for the wider region with an offer to smaller sponsors that brings them in to the circle at some events.
    Put another way; UAE, Ineos, Bahrain and so on may have the petrodollars but the wealth generated by J-V, particularly in Den & NL has wider appeal and this could be parlayed into money for wages, expenses and kit.

    Just seems to me that sport in general has run towards commercialisation – pyjama cricket, animal names for teams, player auctions, replica kits, pay-per-game etc- at the expense of the human and endeavour angles which make procycling so engaging ( for us).

  12. Another example of where cycling is in the world of sport. Two successful teams possibly having to merge, as one can’t find a suitable sponsor. Really? In 2023? Not a great advert for the sport if JV can’t get one that isn’t a sportswashing Middle East country/company.

    I thought JV won the last two editions of the Tour – You know, that event that claims it’s the biggest annual sporting event. A claim which needs questioning. I’d guess the Superbowl & Champions League blow it out the water financially.
    If it was the case, that one event would bring in untold riches for the sport – it seems it isn’t the case.
    ASO seemingly have the power over everybody, including the UCI, but in the grand scheme of things are pretty small time – and the money they make is peanuts compared to the big boys.

    However, we’ll be here in another 5-10 years and nothing will have changed and more successful teams will have folded/ merged, etc

    • And yet after 120 years pro cycling still exists. Incredible. There must have been lots and lots of different teams then to have still 38 pro teams.

      • Teams are lasting much longer than they did in the past. Jumbo can be traced back to 1984. Quickstep has itself gone through mergers and goes back to the early 1990s.

        One problem for Jumbo-Visma is pricing itself above what a corporate marketing budget spend might justify, say a new lead title sponsor has to put in €30 million a year, that’s a big spend for any company – you could buy 3% / 1 in 30 of TV ads in the Netherlands for this apparently – and possibly more than the return they can expect from publicity because the wages and costs in the sport have been bid up a lot recently by others who don’t operate by these commercial metrics and rates of return, think Ineos, Bahrain or UAE.

        You can of course also get huge amounts of good publicity too, Vingegaard’s Copenhagen parade was the sort of thing money can’t normally buy. But it’s hard to convince a corporate marketing manager as the return isn’t as obvious as a TV ad campaign etc.

    • Yawn. Been reading – and debunking – this stuff for years now.

      However, assuming that Amazon really jumps on board (we need to see it signed, of course), how that would leave your post above? 15M are small change to Bezos, yet if it was on a yearly base, it would be some 25% more than what Jumbo was providing, reportedly.

      We lack a lot of info, of course, but, *should it happen*, all this pessimistic chattering about the finances of the sport, based on a single and peculiar event (this merger which, by the way, hasn’t still happened, so it’s not more of a fact than the Amazon sponsorship, for now), well, all the screaming blue murder above won’t suddenly make much sense.

      Jumbo gets out, but, hey… Lidl had recently got in and it’s now raising their commitment.

      Are people commenting along those lines just failing to get how cycling’s model actually works?

      • It’s pretty clear how cycling’s model works… and it isn’t a very stable professional system. Would you ever see a decade where multiple premier league teams fold? Even the NHL is far more lucrative.

        I understand the throwaway comments “cycling has been here before…” and “it always lands on its feet…” etc. but you can’t deny how weak it looks when our most “attractive” patrons are autocrats or a dirty oil company.

      • I’m not sure a sponsor will see it this way. They’ll see the two Tour de France wins and more and think “I want some of this”, but then come all the tricky questions like how much does it cost, what audiences do they reach etc, what are the VIP opportunities like etc?

      • Radcliffe/Ineos are a fascinating case, in that whatever Big Jim R backs, fails. He’s a sporting albatross. Nice FC is a shambles. Man U, bid or not, remain a shambles, and his biking investment has seen Sky fall from challengers to well paid also-rans. And his motor car is insanely expensive alongside its already proven rivals. He has a lot of cash to burn, true, and by cycling backers standards, a fairly controlled ego, but would you put your trust in a Brexiter who instantly invested in a factory in France to built his short lived car, for two or three years…. Oil money is cleaner than plastic money, possibly.

  13. Amid the talk of JV’s depth, just have a look at UAE for Emilia (and probably for Lombardy):

    Pogacar, Yates, Ayuso, Vine, Ulissi, Groschartner, Majka…

    It’s hard to imagine a stronger dreamteam with a great season but no GT wins

    • They are currently the top ranked team … if not by much. If Pogacar wins Lombardia that could seal it.
      The attitude seems to be that GT’s are everything but I am not convinced.

      • “GTs are everything”

        To the non-specialist, probably yes, and for many the TdF alone, though Belgians would have Flanders and LBL, and Italians Giro, M-SR, Lombardy and Strade.

        IR readers, including me, probably enjoy almost everything including Emilia and the CRO race, but maybe not Guangxi despite its unmerited WT status.

        • Even the grand tours vary. For some teams, the Tour can be 80% of their media coverage/exposure in the year. So you can fit the Vuelta, Giro and everything else into the rest.

          As much as I enjoy Paris-Nice, Sanremo, Roubaix, the Ronde, not to mention all the other races than even we here can see as niche events, they’re the equivalent of bar food compared to the feast of July and an incoming sponsor wants success at the Tour, the spring classics are big in the sport but don’t reach far beyond it, see http://inrng.com/2023/03/for-the-sport/ or just look at Ineos and the lengths and expense they’re willing to go to find a contender.

  14. quick point…. WHAT IS GOING ON AT QUICKSTEP?!?

    Since Inrng’s weekly relegation pieces Quickstep has gone from full wolfpack status to complete also-ran team. Remco had a solid season, but they definitely didn’t top the heap this year.

      • And high on the UCI points rankings. But increasingly reliant on Evenepoel for this which is both good as he’s a winning machine… but risky too if he might leave as if he left tomorrow what would they do? They’ve changed from the days of 20 of the 30 riders winning at least one race and several winning 10 or more, now they’re lining up behind Evenepoel and arguably need him more than he needs them.

      • Second – but highly reliant on Remco, and many of these wins are lower-tier – it’s completely different from the old wolfpack mood

        Gone are the days where they would get 2/3 Spring Classics, and then 1 or two Monuments every year.

  15. So behind the scenes, it seems 3 teams are involved, Jumbo, QS & Ineos. Jumbo need a sponsor so the QS deal makes sense. Ineos have only 15 riders for next year, so somethings up there. That a team so successful as Jumbo seem to have a problem getting a sponsor, certainly raises an eyebrow.
    Jumbo’s PR problem with the Hessman case does not help and the Ullrich documentary coming out in December will remind people of cycling’s murky past (and a certain Texan).

  16. Who actually owns jumbo visma cycling team? SQS are owned by bakala (80%) and lefevre(20%).i have found no details of ultimate ownership of jv, there is just talk of the management team headed by Mr. Plugge. Who are the owners and what do they want?

    • I’m not sure if there’s anyone else.

      There’s the Netherlands business register and you can either walk into a regional office and inspect the plenty of documents for free yourself… or else you need an account and have to pay for access, the sort of thing a Dutch accountant or business reporter would have but as a blog it’s not been that urgent to set this up as much as it could help us for the team’s budget numbers.

    • The JV website – and Wiki – mention a different company, De Stichting Blanco Stimulering Sport – which seems (according to NL wikipedia) to have come into being to take over the team after Rabobank: https://ready2race.teamjumbovisma.nl/maatschappelijk/

      Stichting Blanco has its hoofdkwartier in Zoetermeer, while RichSports appears to be Oegstgeest. Stichting Blanco really does seem to be a foundation, even asking for gifts and donations. But there also seems to be a “Blanco Pro Cycling Team B.V.” registered in Den Bosch, apparently a subsidiary of Team Oranje B.V. and RichSports B.V..

      Interesting. 🙂

      • All that blanco stuff was just for the Rabobank team when RB no longer wanted to be associated but still contractually required to sponsor. They just rode with a blank jersey until Belkin came in.

        • Yes yes – as long as we are talking about the name under which the team raced.
          H0wever, the name for the company has stuck, Blanco Pro Cycling Team B.V. is still the rechtspersoon, that is to say the judicial person behind the team.

          Until somone does the necessary legwork we do not know who are the share owners who actually own Blanco (unless it is wholly owned by Team Oranje) , RichSports (unless it is wholly owned by Plugge) and Team Oranje.

      • Funnily enough, Plugge’s LinkedIn has Oegstgeest as his location. 😉 And also lists Zoetermeer for some stuff. RichSports presumably is a vehicle for Plugge’s ownership interests in Blanco Pro Cycling.

      • Van der Wallen’s BrandLoyalty was a minor sponsor of the team in the early post-Rabo Blanco/Belkin details it seems. Ton van der Veen of Jumbo and Robert van der Wallen are described as the main financial-decision-making anchors of the team, whom Plugge says he is in daily contact with. I guess Van der Wallen put a good bit of his own money into the team, from what he got out of BrandLoyalty.

        It’s interesting, old interviews from the Rabobank mess and Blanco days, Plugge made it clear Blanco were a mess, struggling to survive, and… he was hoping one day to get /closer/ to being a QuickStep or Ineos. 😉


        Mission accomplished I guess. Not just reaching the level of QuickStep but surpassing it, chewing it up, to swallow a few of the best parts (Soudal + a few of the best riders) and spit out the rest.

  17. If Netflix are serious about ongoing series focussed on the TdF it’d probably be cheaper (upfront cost offset by advertising) and would get an insiders view more readily if they just went ahead and sponsored JV

    • Now that would be interesting! Maybe you’d have the sponsor dictating tactics to try and maximise excitement during the race? Perhaps they’d pay to have Remco in JV, alongside Vingegaard and Roglic, just to amplify the internecine rivalry?

        • Agreed! I’m just enjoy considering the potential absurdities. I’m thinking something along the lines of smack-talk in “pro” wrestling (WWE etc): At the start line of the races the different protagonists would get some microphone time to bombastically proclaim how they’ll destroy their competitors in the day’s stage.

          Are you not entertained? ; )

  18. I’ve very much enjoyed the article and the discussion below.

    Just to he that guy, it’s great to have INRNG back from their break. The several weeks of no new posts made me realise how much I appreciate this site. And also, the community of contributers below the articles.

    So – Thank INRNG, it’s good to have you back and I hope you’ve had a restful break from us all. 🙂

    • Yeah, terrible having weeks of no INRNG posts. How dare they take a holiday! Don’t they realise they’re now a critical piece of infrastructure in the road cycling sports world? 🙂

  19. At first the entire thing of merging for next year made no sense to me. Having to ditch a bike brand plus many sponsorships just seem to hard. Not to mention having to take at least 50 riders down to 30. Probably having to pay other teams to take excess riders. But if i think about the extra spending JV have seemed to incur buying new big name riders even when already dominant and probably having to give some riders a pay rise. Not to mention they already seem to be sponsored to the end of next year so not in immediate risk, have they just overspent based on projections of additional income that never happened.
    But ineos not filling there rostor and the strange rumours surrounding the ineos rumour a month back. It sort of makes a logic. The sponsor of soudal quicksteps wants a TDF victory and won’t get it
    there so JV makes a better match. Ineos know about it so have kept the rostor as bare as possible in order to take some of the offloaded riders in a business deal. If the deal happens expect Roglic at a minimun plus a few helpers from both teams to go to ineos. Evenepoel is anyones guess but i suspect goes to the new merged team if he can take being number 2 in the tdf. Then Israel team buys the license and maybe a rider or 2.
    Od course team staff will be downsized which will be bad for them. Mostly from quickstep.

    • You raise an interesting point regarding the two team licenses; does one cease to exist, or would one be sold off and the riders and staff merged into the other team? IANAL and have no idea how this would work.

      • It’s worth a moment on the team licence aspect, especially as one Belgian newspaper got it a little bit wrong the other day and their piece has been translated/copied by some English-language websites.

        If two teams merge then it’s likely one of the legal entities behind one of the teams becomes redundant, there is now legally only one team. So this team’s licence is invalid and gets revoked but it can also be transferred, however the transfer is normally after two years while here we’ve had one year of the new 3 year cycle of licences.

        Either way the licence becomes available for UCI to attribute to another team. However the new applicant team has to have told the UCI by 1 January this year if it wants to have a World Tour licence for the following season, and then sent all its paperwork in by 15 August. A clever team with ambitions might have done all of this admin as insurance in case a team vanishes but it’s far from automatic. However if the deadlines have been missed the UCI might be flexible and consider late applications given they’ll always prefer to have 18 teams in the World Tour.

        We’ll see if the JV-SQS merger if it happens is for 2024… or 2025, the latter gives teams more time to apply and for the third team to get organised.

        • If Jumbo´s sponsorship amounted to a third of the team´s budget at 36 million and if the news that Jumbo will pay what remains of the deal in three installments 2023-2025 (intead of paying it all next year), we are looking at a budget deficit of 8 million for 2024 (+ 2.5 million, if the story about non-payment of the sponsorship money by Gorillas is true).

          Jumbo could conceivably make it through next year if Ineos, Lidl-Trek or Movistar agrees to buy Roglic out for 10 million – which would give them ample time to sort out the details and the legal complexities of the merger before 2025.

          On a lighter note: what will be the name of the merged team? Amazon will reportedly not be a name sponsor, so that´s at least one worry less :- ) IIRC there is an UCI rule that allows only two name sponsors?

          Visma, QuickStep and Soudal make it three and I´m not sure if the trick (used by EF) of adding a third name with a “powered by” is available this time…

          • Some good workings but I can’t see Roglič being bought out for €10 million. The team will probably be happy to unload him and his seven figure salary from the budget, they can say to Ineos, Movistar etc “if you want him, pay us” but they can reply “he wants to leave and we gather you’re running out of cash”, nobody holds all the cards. His sudden move does make a space of sorts for Evenepoel.

            You can have three names now (eg Intermarché-Circus-Wanty), but at the risk of everyone just calling you Intermarché.

    • Interesting and plausible transfer merry-go-round. I suspect if it played out this way, Remco would go to Ineos (and probably other support riders from SQS) and the sponsor (Soudal) would go to yellow lotto (JV).

  20. I can’t figure out how this merge can easily strengthen Jumbo, I see it more as a possible breaking point! No matter how much money is involved I can’t see Renco Evenpoel and Vingegard together in the same team and the thing working and according to Philippe Gilbert Renco hate’s Jumbo, so the first time with new colleagues could be really fun. According to Procylingstats for 2024, Jumbo has 27 cyclists contracted although I suspect that Hesseman will leave, leaving our places only for Soudal riders and it is most likely necessary to compensate everyone who had a contract, and I don’t know to what extent to avoid this both Jumbo and Soudal could simply not hire the cyclists they have under promised contract starting in 2024 ex Landa and Jorgensen? Maybe they could fit the youngsters in the development team and leave more places in the A team, but even with this “crazy measure” they couldn’t have a place for every soudal rider…and if we observe the 2024 soudal roster and compare with Jumbo roster Renco, Alanphilipe, Asgreen, Merlier Landa could strengthened the Jumbo team, Van Wilder, Vansevenant, Cerni and Hirt could be good fit’s but I dont see here to mutch strength compare to Jumbos for 2024, and again I dont see Renco on the same Team as Vingegard! Plus Levefere and not so good image he transmit. And lot of questions remains to ask, all the staf and small sponsors, etc what make with them? I don’t know if its possible or nothing but the only way I could see this working is something like the “merged team” can Cash on a “sell” of Renco Evenpoel, this money goes to Jumbo+Soudal merged team, and the ashes of the Belgium team merged with another Team who want to be promoted already to WT and could fit and NEED the great part of riders and staff who remains. Not easy at all but maybe interesting times ahead for geek cycling fans and good blogger’s!

    Great text as always here on the blog! Congrats!

  21. Which of the 2 squad’s ideologies and scientific/commercial secrets will be most adopted? Will there be culture clashes and mutual suspicion? Will JV see it as an invasion of their years growth and stability by uncivilised savages? Will Evenepoel get the same security clearance to esoteric knowledge and magic potions as Vingegaard does? Verbal reassurances should be taken as just that and nothing more. Hopefull the end result of this will be V,R and E all in different teams.

    • Huh maybe there’ll be pressure to have Kuss protected, promoted and wrapped in the flag then.
      Also, as much as I like Roglic, Ineos seem adrift and without a clear vision of the future.

    • “According to Cycling news, … Ineos are after Roglic.”
      One of Cycling News’ articles also linked Roglic to Bora-Hansgrohe.
      For Roglic’s TdF aspirations, which team plausibly offers the best domestique & super-domestique support? What about Bahrain, or other teams?
      Losing GT support from the likes of Kuss, WvA, Van Baarle, etc, has to be a big disadvantage, even with Rog’s superlative talents.

  22. Note that a member of the “Raad van Commissarissen” (what Lefevere would be if the merger happens) has a bit more than just an advisory function in a Dutch company, as e.g. they appoint & decide salaries of the executive directors.

  23. All this leaves us to do is play fantasy cycling team – which riders would you keep and which would you bin. You have to keep to budget and think about riding competitions (one-day, GTs and domestiques). Could be quite fun if I had time on my hands. I don’t so it’s back to cleaning the patio for me.

  24. It doesn’t sound much like a fusion. JV will continue with a new sponsor while Soudal-QS cease to exist and sack their staff. Who is the better GT bet? Roglic or Evenepoel. Roglic in the short term at least, but is he really good enough to rival Vingegaard, Pogecar or even Kuss?

  25. Roglic is leaving at the end of this year, according to Eurosport and others. JV have granted a transfer request.

    That’s one prospective GT leader fewer to squeeze into the overloaded team. I wonder where he will end up and whether JV will be worried about him as a rival.

    • Bora by the sounds of things.

      Roglič is possibly moving because of the Vuelta tactics as well but one upshot of this merger is that the riders on two teams are now going to be spread across four teams if Evenepoel leaves for Ineos. So rather than the typical merger rationale of regrouping assets under one firm, here rivals are going to be able pick up some prime assets as a result.

  26. Oh wow. And we all thought Bjarne Riis was low-balled by Tinkoff. He must be chuckling about all that right now.
    The teams have collectively been overtrading on some vision of growth if the present woes are anything to go by. I wonder if the concentration if cycling coverage to one media owner has revealed a few things about the audience and now the sponsors are moving away?

Comments are closed.