Pro Team Sponsors

Money makes the wheels go around and every pro team is reliant on funding from its title sponsors who can easily supply 90% of the income needed to keep the squads on the road. But do you want some Wanty, do you know what Visma does and do you know the connection between Cofidis and Arkéa?

There are 22 teams in the Tour de France with a variety of sponsors from household goods to governments. Here’s a quick explainer of what they all do, presented in the start list order…

Jonas Vingegaard

Team Visma-Lease A Bike
Jumbo-Visma this time last year, only for the Dutch supermarket to half and almost crater the team. Visma is a Norwegian IT services company that does dull but essential things like accounting and corporate payrolls. Lease A Bike is a company that works with employers to allow employees to, you guessed it, lease bicycles via payments out of their salary. It’s part of Pon, a Dutch conglomerate named after Bernadus Pon, the man who came up with the idea for the VW camper van and which today owns bike company Cervélo.

Tadej Pogacar in Cesenatico

UAE Team Emirates
The clue is in the name, the UAE is the United Arab Emirates, a federation of oil and gas rich kingdoms with Abu Dhabi as the capital that has literally risen out of the desert and is now a destination for many, from casual shoppers to organised criminals fleeing arrest. Along with the state itself is Emirates, the flag-carrier airline which is part of the state. With success the team has become more central to the ruling family, many sub-sponsors on the jersey are linked to Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the prince also known as “TBZ”, he is the country’s spy chief and a corporate kingpin whose business interests include frame company Colnago.

Chris Juul Jensen

Team Jayco-Al Ula
Jayco is an Australian caravan manufacturer which sounds like a niche backer but it’s just one of several companies owned by Australian tycoon and sports fan Gerry Ryan, one of several “sugar daddy” sponsors. Its his fortune that is behind the team, as he likes to joke he’s spending his children’s inheritance. Al Ula is a Saudi tourist project designed to bring tourism, including cyclists, to the desert town of Al Ula.

Carlos Rodriguez

Ineos Grenadiers
Ineos is petrochemicals company for the plastics that surround us. It’s grown so big that it now drills for oil and gas in order to get both its raw materials and the energy to power its chemical plants. Owned by James “Jim” Ratcliffe, Britain’s third richest person he doesn’t just play sport, he funds it. He has a sailing team, owns French football club OGC Nice, is a sponsor and part owner of the Mercedes Formula 1 team and is now the new minority owner of Manchester United. Why? Because he can, but being a sugar daddy sponsor brings VIP opportunities galore. The Grenadiers name is a side project to produce a luxury 4×4 utility vehicle. Despite the team name the squad uses BMW team cars.

Toms Skujiņš and Julien Bernard

Lidl is the upstart German discount supermarket which has been expanding in Europe and now the US in recent years and grabbed significant market share. The arrival of this big public-facing multinational is a boost for the sport in general, a coup for the team as it came just as Jumbo. The team owned and backed by the US bicycle brand Trek making the only “factory” team from a bike brand left in the World Tour. The squad is now on the up and trying to make the top tier of pro teams with an increased budget and ambitions.

Decathlon Ag2r La Mondiale

Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale Team
New for 2024 is Decathlon, the French sporting goods retailer has come on board as a title sponsor. Operating out of retail warehouses it has outlets around the world, from Brazil to China and now India and if the squad has had a great start to the season this has delighted the new backers who have seen big demand for the team-issue bikes, particularly in Asia. Ag2r La Mondiale is one of France’s largest social insurance companies allowing savers to take out life insurance, pension plans and additional healthcare cover.

Fred Wright

Bahrain Victorious
An obvious one, this is the oil-rich island in the Middle East. The key man behind the team is Sheikh Nasser, a sports-mad prince from the ruling family with business interests and the spy chief brief for the kingdom, much like his counterpart in the UAE. A case study in “sportswashing” because the term itself is so wrong: there is no laundry of reputation. Instead an oppressive country that sits 173rd out of 180 on the press freedom index – two places down from last year – is here and we have to deal with it. The Victorious label is also code for “your name here” as the team might be sponsored by a wealthy nation state but there’s no unlimited credit line and they are keen for a co-sponsor in order to bolster funding and strengthen the squad.

Remco Evenepoel

Soudal Quick-Step
Soudal make adhesives and other chemical products for construction, you can buy their tubes of glue and silicone in DIY stores. It is a Belgian company founded and still owned by Baron Vic Swerts that has spread around the world. Quick-Step makes laminated, wood and vinyl flooring and while originally a Belgian company is is now owned by a US firm. You can use the two sponsors together, spread some Soudal adhesives to stick your Quick-Step flooring down.

Primoz Roglic Red Bull

Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe
Austrian sports drink company Red Bull is more than a sponsor, it’s an owner having now acquired the German team and the team has just got a new name and kit. Red Bull is all caffeinated excitement, lively marketing and now coming into road cycling but surely no rider will actually drink Red Bull in-competition. Mind you, nobody will use a Bora kitchen cooker mid-race either, the selling point is that the extractor fan is built on the hob rather than above and so no big unit has to be installed above. Hansgrohe makes plumbing, think mixers and shower heads.

David Gaudu

A 50-50 joint venture owned by the two title sponsors. Groupama is a giant mutual insurance company whose rural logo hints at the original name of Groupe des Assurances Mutuelles Agricoles, Groupe AMA… Groupama. FDJ is short for La Française des Jeux, it’s the French national lottery and now a privatised company that wants to run more lotteries, it does the Irish one and is also expanding into gambling across Europe. Groupama’s corporate colour is green but as they get to go first on the team name they’ve accepted the blue kit.

Mathieu van der Poel

Alpecin is a shampoo brand from Germany with caffeine in it (reviewed on this blog). Can they sign a bald rider? Was Simon Dehairs hired because of his name? Oddly for a team out for exposure in France, the shampoo’s not for sale in supermarkets nor the myriad of pharmacies in France. Continuing the construction site theme among Belgian sponsors, Deceuninck’s a Belgian maker of PVC windows and doors.

Richard Carapaz

EF Education-Easypost
EF Education is language and study-abroad business that was started in Sweden and now HQ’d in Switzerland and now the team owner. EF Education First sounds like a pleonasm but loyal readers will know the initials EF actually stand for Europeiska Ferieskolan, Swedish for “European Holiday Schools” because this is what the founder Bertil Hult named his venture. Easypost is an e-commerce platform to help ship small goods and packets.

Maxim Van Gils and Arnaud De Lie

One of the second-tier teams outside of the World Tour after relegation but a fixture in the sport. Another lottery operator with Belgium’s state operator and with this, some political oversight that can stray into interference but mostly it’s benign, like a duty to recruit both from Flanders and Wallonia to bridge the divides. It’s been a team sponsor since the 1980s. Dstny is Belgn tlcms cmpny (yes, this blog can hrdly tlk) that now operates in several European countries which means it wants wins abroad, particularly at the Tour de France.

Derek Gee

Another second-tier team this is owned by Israeli-Canadian real estate mogul Sylvan Adams, a keen cyclist and another sugar daddy sponsor. The Israel label is presumptuous, it’s Adams promoting his new country rather than the state as a sponsor but fraught for this because people will see this team through the prism of politics and war rather than just following it as a cycling team backed by a massive cycling fan if it was labelled, say, the Adams Academy. PremierTech sounds all fancy but it is a Canadian company that start mainly sells soils and fertiliser for horticulture but has some sidelines in agricultural machinery.

Guillaume Martin

Cofidis is a consumer credit company. It began giving credit to people buying from the Trois Suisses catalogue retailer and now offers instant credit. It’s part of the big Crédit Mutuel group, more which in a moment. Cofidis has been an exclusive sponsor of the team since 1997 and had ups and downs from super team to doping scandals. It’s not flashy today but that’s the point, for all the “cycling is the new golf” talk, the team are out to connect with a different demographic who might suddenly need cash, in France and beyond which part explains why the team has Spanish, Italian and central European riders.

Enric Mas

Movistar Team
Movistar is mobile telecoms operator that belongs to Spain’s Telefonica, it is a brand in Spain and Latin America. It has a sub brand in O2 which is used in Spain,Germany, the UK and other markets. A fixture in the peloton as a sponsor, it backs the oldest team in the peloton. The squad is actively hunting for a co-sponsor but this is always around the corner. As Spain’s only top tier team hopefully they can land a deal and Movistar are happy to share naming rights if it means results improve because they would be mentioned more often.

Kévin Vauquelin

Arkéa-B&B Hotels
Having mentioned that Cofidis is part of French banking giant Crédit Mutuel, so is Arkéa. But the group is disparate and you’d need a large organigram to find both Cofidis and Arkéa. Anyway Crédit Mutuel Arkéa is a group of their banks in Britannia and South West France. B&B Hotels sounds like an oxymoron but it tells you plenty, a hotel that gives you a bed and then breakfast, it’s that functional and the French hotel chain is expanding around Europe, typically found by autoroute junctions.

Binian Girmay

Intermarché is a French supermarket but the sponsorship here is via their Belgian shops to appeal to Belgian shoppers, telling in a small way how Belgium is cycling crazy. Wanty does civil engineering, think building bridges or specialist demolition projects. The particularity of the team is that since the 1970s has grown out of a local club, the Vélo Club Ath that, starting with sponsorship from watch brand Rodania, has gradually risen up the ranks, getting an invite to the Tour de France in 2017, promotion to the World Tour (via the expired CCC licence) in 2021 and now won its first Tour stage win.

Romain Bardet and Frank Van den Broek

Team DSM Firmenich-Post NL
Currently wearing out keyboards thanks to the long name, this squad has been backed by Dutch life sciences company DSM since 2021. The firm makes plenty from vitamins to dyes to put in fish food so that farmed salmon is the “right” colour when filleted for customers; and since then it has merged with Swiss peer Firmenich whose speciality is aromas, there’s a good chance any detergent or deodorant you have has molecules cooked up by Firmenich. Post NL is more obvious, as the Netherlands postal service.

Mark Cavendish

Astana Qazaqstan Team
This is the Kazakh state but in varying forms over the years as the actual provenance of the funds has come from different agencies and entities; at times it’s not come causing unpaid wages and not wanting to be the bringer of bad news, the fear is the team is struggling for stable financing for next year and facing World Tour relegation beyond. Astana used to be the capital city’s name but it was renamed in tribute to long term ruler Nazabayev but has recently reverted to Astana. The Qazaqstan is the new name for the vast energy and mineral rich country which wants to drop the Russian/cyrillic “K” and opt for a more romanised term; it’s the origin of the “cossack”.

Jonas Abrahamsen

Uno-X Mobility
An invitee team, this is a Norwegian retailer, a chain of service stations that is moving into charging stations, useful in Norway which has Europe’s highest rate of electric car use. Other names on the kit include Reitan and Rema-1000 but they’re all under the same corporate umbrella of Reitan, a Norwegian conglomerate that has business in Denmark too. The more Jonas Vingegaard wins, the more Danes tune in and so they get more exposure but the team is cohesive and can get its own results too but identifiably local teams are risky ventures because of the asymmetry where the talent pool is deliberately restricted all while the best riders from the area – Norway and Denmark here – can also sign elsewhere.

Fabien Grellier

Total Energies
The paradox of the weakest team in the race but backed by a corporate giant, oil company Total, or TotalEnergies as it’s now called. The oil major got into cycling by accident when it acquired Direct Energie, an alternative electricity supplier in France but has used the team as a vehicle to help with the rebranding from Total to TotalEnergies and the sponsor does everything from service stations to lubricants, alternative energy to drilling for oil and gas. The Total boss, as in the oil man, has personally said he’d “break open the money box” to sign a star rider and they need this star appeal as invitations are already drying up and their Tour place is in danger in the coming years.

There are plenty of sponsors selling goods to consumers, the traditional sponsorship method with the likes of, say, Alpecin shampoo wanting to reach you. For all the Tour’s reach there are only a few global brands like Emirates, Lidl, Red Bull and Total; there are plenty with a local reach too like Uno-X or Cofidis.

Many teams are happy to get mass publicity, take DSM Firmenich whose management probably want the company to be more widely known but for they and many sponsors the real value of sponsorship comes internally, being able to take VIPs to Tour stages or to orientate employee communications about stories of victory, the hidden side of sponsorship.

The Tour de France is crucial too all of this, by many accounts 70% of more of a team’s media exposure but also massive added pressure because sponsors are not just watching, they are in the team car or on the bus right now. If you really want to find more big names look to the Tour itself with sponsors like Nestlé, Continental, VW Group.

25 thoughts on “Pro Team Sponsors”

  1. Ah, Al-Ula is part of the Saudi Neom thing? The one where they’re shooting dead anyone who doesn’t agree to evictions for it? Oh dear…


    Cycling loves the blood money. Not a good look.

    • Al Ula is a different project from Neom. It’s a tourist project and seems to involve a lot of French influences and contractors, almost a shared project between the countries and some diplomacy in it as the Saudis want to import French tourism expertise… which is probably part of the cycling angle.

      • Although AlUla is also a major development being backed by the Saudi state (with French contractors) that has required the compulsory purchase of land, like NEOM. It’s equally political, with the Crown Prince as head of the organisation and the chief executive recently removed on ‘corruption’ charges for falling out with the wrong people.

    • You forgot Astana. And as Mr Rng pointed out, Israel the state doesn’t sponsor IPT the team.

      Neom is a new development. Al-Ula is an ancient (at least Bronze Age) city. Saudi Arabia are flogging Al-Ula hard, emphasizing the pre-Islamic history and downplaying the Saudi Arabia part of it, which is interesting.

      I didn’t realize that “Emirates” referred to the airline! Obvious in retrospect, for the longest time I couldn’t understand why the team was called ‘United Arab Emirates Emirates”…

  2. Have anyone ever asked Pogi or other big fishes if they are comfortable competing for and benefiting from teams based on dubious money? I remember that Sky/Ineos was given a somewhat hard time due to the fact that it is sponsored by a company selling petro-chemicals, and thus a project of green washing (maybe I read that in the Guardian?), but I have not seen that directely with teams sponsored by questionable states.

    • I know Gino Mäder was very aware of Bahrain human rights abuses, was open about it, but decided that the positives outweigh the negatives.

  3. I wouldn’t recommend you try to “spread some Soudal adhesives to stick your Quick-Step flooring down”. The whole point of the Quickstep flooring system is that it effectively ‘floats’ over the structural floor so that it can expand and contract to accommodate variations in temperature and humidity. Any attempt to fix it to the floor would induce stress points and likely failure.

  4. Back in the day Cavendish had no idea what the sponsors did – Until he was having some work done in is house and a load of Quickstep flooring arrived. He admitted that until then he hadn’t a clue what Quickstep was……

  5. I had a look at the Jayco Jersey and website to see if there where any other sponsors i could add some detail to your points above.
    Gerry Ryan. I like this guy. He’s not some huge money sugar Daddy promoting himself. He really loves his cycling and has put a lot of money into the sport not just this team. He doesn’t even use it to promote himself personally which makes sense because cycling does not make the news here in any visible way.

    Jayco. About 50% of the Australian market roughly 10000 – 12000 caravans a year.
    Lets Go which is on the jersey sleeve. A campervan rental company. I presume either owned partly by Gerry Ryan or one of his friends.
    Other Products not sports related on there sponsor list but not on their jersey that i can see.
    Dometic – camping gear.
    Mitchelton wines (owned at least partly by G Ryan),
    Misceladoro coffee stuff.

    Bike exchange is no longer on the sponsors list which surprises me.

    • Gerry has been a big fan of cycling for decades. He started by sponsoring and paying for Kathy Watt to attend the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 where she won the gold medal.

  6. I seem to remember reading that “Victorious” was the name of one of Sheikh Nasser‘s race horses. I’ve tried to Google it but can’t find it anywhere; can anybody confirm it?

  7. To add to the list of dubious sponsors; Decathlon (along with its related companies Auchan and Leroy Merlin) is still trading in Russia, just using a rebrand as Desport but stocking the same goods and using the same shops and warehouses.

    • The company said they pulled out and sold to new owners but as part of this they’d deliver some stock to last a while for the new owners ARM.

      The same group behind Decathlon owns Auchan supermarkets and according to reports the company was threatened with having its assets in Russia seized. Soon after, a deal was done to put them under Russian control and the legal entity is fronted by a 23 year old lawyer, probably not the real owner. The controllers are not known, is a smokescreen by the French owners, the Kremlin lining up some cronies, or something else?

    • Publicly moral high ground Germany is still buying natural gas from Russia, despite all you hear by them officially. But selling sports goods in Russia is a problem?
      That’s all phoney business.

  8. Not sponsor related, but an example of a rider who does consider who he’s riding for is Bardet. I heard an interview (a while back) in which he discussed his move to dsm and he explained that his choice was limited, because he would only sign for a team that was signed up to the MPCC.

  9. It can feel odd to root for seemingly likable riders on teams sponsored by entities that I would never root for otherwise. It’s part of sport, unfortunately. I try not to know too much about the owners of the ballsport teams I support, cause I wouldn’t be surprised if they, like many super-wealthy people, are awful…

  10. If Trek is considered “factory” team, shouldn’t Decathlon be one as well? I know that Decathlon is vendor first but on the other hand there is a probability that both Van Rysel and Trek frames are produced in the same factory.

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