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A Directory of Pro Cycling Team Sponsors,
Old and New

What they Did, Made or Sold

Cycling Terms Glossary | Cyclist Nicknames | Back to rider histories

Jump to list of sponsors

Les Woodland's book Dirty Feet: How the great unwashed created the Tour de France is available as an audiobook here. For the print and Kindle eBook versions, just click on the Amason link on the right.

Ever wonder what the mysterious names on pro team jerseys mean? What's Frisol or Groene Leeuw or Sidermec? I don't have anywhere near all of the answers, but here are some. I'll keep adding to the list.

A short history first:

Until the mid-1950s professional cycling sponsorship was limited to companies in the bicycle business. The first crack in the wall occurred in 1947 when ITP, a football pool, sponsored a British team that was, admittedly, run under the BLRC, an organizing outfit outside the UCI.

The wall came down in 1954. The great European post-war bike boom had ended and bike companies all over Europe found themselves under financial stress. Late in 1953 the Ganna bike company told its top rider Fiorenzo Magni that it would be unable to meet its obligations to the team in the following season. Magni was familiar with the German Nivea firm because the riders had been using Nivea face cream to soften the chamois in their cycling shorts. When Magni (odd that the rough-hewn, bald Italian strongman would be a cosmetics spokesman) signed the cosmetic company as his team's title sponsor, he changed cycling.

In 1962 Raphaël Géminiani signed St. Raphaël (French aperitif) to back his team. Both signings of extra-sportif companies were fought by entrenched interests (for instance, Tour co-manager Félix Lévitan didn't want the advertising dollars diverted from the pages of the sports daily L'Equipe to the teams), but there was no turning back. Bicycle makers no longer had enough money to finance the sport.

Various purveyors of alcoholic drinks as well as cigarette and cigar makers sponsored pro teams through the 1960s, but European laws now forbid their advertising in sports.

Here is a sampling of the thousands of companies that have made our sport of professional cycling possible.

ACBB: L'Athlétic Club de Boulogne-Billancourt is a Parisian sports club that has enjoyed particular success in cycling. For years it acted almost as a farm team for Peugeot. In 1960 it was a co-sponsor of Jacques Anquetil's team Helyett-Leroux-Fynsec-Hutchinson-ACBB. It was a rare occasion when a cycle club had sponsored a pro team.

Acqua & Sapone: Italian chain of 700 retail store specialiazing in beauty and health products. Co-sponsored team with Cantina Tollo 2001 - 2002 that had Mario Cipollini. Title Sponsor of UCI Professional Continental teams (below the top Pro Tour status) from 2004 to 2012. Acqua & Sapone has had some good riders including Fred Rodriguez, Rinaldo Nocentini, Stefano Garzelli, Michele Scarponi and Danilo Di luca

Ag2r: 8th largest life insurance company in France and also a pension manager. Became co-sponsor of the Casino team in 1997 and became title sponsor on 2000.

Agritubel: French maker of tubular metal products for livestock and farming. Was title sponsor of French pro team from 2005 to 2009. Agritubel riders included Christophe Agnolutto, Florent Brard, Nicolas Jalabert, Romain Feillu, Jimmy Casper and Kevin Ista

Alcyon: Cycle manufacturer started by Edmond Gentle when he wasn't given a desired promotion by his employer Peugeot. In 1906 Alcyon's first cycling team was formed and for years was one of the most powerful teams in cycling, winning the Tour de France four times before the First World War and three times in the 1920s. Ironically, Peugeot acquired the brand in the 1950s and discontinued the team.

Alessio: Northern Italian aluminum automobile wheel manufacturer with pro team from 1999 to 2004. Had some good riders: Gilberto Simoni, Magnus Backstedt, Laurent Dufaux, Pietro Caucchioli and Endrio Leoni.

Alpecin: German maker of hair care products.

Amore & Vita: Anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia group backed by the Catholic church. For decades has sponsored modest pro teams.

ANC: British trucking firm that does a world-wide business. It co-sponsored the ANC-Halfords pro cycling team of 1985–1987 (ANC-Freight Rover in 1985), famous for being mismanaged. The team rode the 1987 Tour de France as a wild card invitee. Not only were the riders inexperienced in high-end stage racing, they lacked proper equipment and the manager deserted the team during the last week of the race. Still four riders finished, although the best placed ANC-Halfords rider was Adrian Timmis, 70th.

Ariostea: Italian producer of floor and wall tiles of marble, stone and wood, with a successful pro team that raced from 1984 to 1993.

Astana: Kazakh cycling team started in 2007 and named for Kazakhstan's capital city and sponsored by a coalition of Kazakhstan state-owned companies. For years doping and financial problems plagued the team, which for a while was managed by former US Postal team boss Johan Bruyneel and had Lance Armstrong on its roster.

Automoto: French maker of cars, motorcycles, bicycles and bicycle parts established in 1901 in Saint Etienne. In 1947 the firm employeed 350 workers and produced 35,000 - 40,000 bikes a year. It was acquired by Peugeot in 1931. I think Peugeot, through its subsidiary Indénor, ended Automoto production in 1962, but it could have been as early as 1959. Automoto sponsored riders before the First World War and in the 1920s Automoto teams included Tour de France winners Henri Pélissier and Ottavio Bottecchia.

Baratti & Milano: Italian maker of hazelnut spread and sponsor of a good team in 1961. Baratti riders included Angelo Conterno, Fred de Bruyne, Martin van Geneugden and Germain Derycke.

Belkin: American manufacturer of consumer electronics. In June of 2013 it became the primary sponsor of what had been the troubled Rabobank team (see Blanco below).

Belisol: Belgian maker of windows and doors and secondary sponsor sinice 2012 of the Belgian Lotto squad.

BH: Spanish (they might say Basque) bike maker formed by the Beistegui brothers (Beistegui Hermanos, hence BH) more than 100 years ago. The firm has been a professional cycling sponsor for decades. A BH rider won the first Vuelta a España in 1935.

Bic: French maker of disposable consumer products such as lighters and pens. Sponsored pro teams in the 1960s and 1970s included Tour de France winners Jacques Anquetil and Luis Ocaña. In 1974 Luis Ocaña publicly complained that he had not been paid. This upset Bic boss Baron Bich, who said he had deposited the funds in a bank account run by team manager Raphaël Géminiani. That was the end of Bic's pro cycling sponsorship. Bic put pictures of its lighters on the jerseys at a time when a sponsor could show his name but not what he sold. Bic doubtless thought paying the fine worthwhile.

Blanco: After it was revealed in 2012 that the Rabobank cycling team had, at the very best, turned a blind eye to decades of doping within the team, Dutch banking giant Rabobank and title sponsor scrubbed its name from the team. In 2013 the team competed under the "Blanco" name while Rabobank continued to fulfill its contractual obligation to fund the squad through the 2013 season.

Boston: Electrical goods maker. Sponsored a pro team in 1981 with Lucien van Impe and Willy Teirlinck.

Boule d'Or: Belgian cigarettes that had a Belgian pro team in the 1980s. Can't do that today. In fact, one year Boule d'Or couldn't ride the Tour when Belgium allowed tobacco advertising but France didn't. It found a chocolate maker with the same name and transferred the team there.

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Cannondale: The Cannondale Bicycle Corporation, headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut, began manufacturing outdoor accessories in 1971. In 1983 the company started making aluminum bicycle frames, whgich were a big hit. Cannondale has been sponsoring high bicycle racing teams since the late 1990s.

Capri Sonne: German fruit drink company, not to be confused with Capri Sun. Had a good team in the 1980s with Gregor Braun, Theo de Roy, Ronny de Witte, Peter Winnen, Rudy Pevenage and Ludo Delcroix.

Carpano: Italian vermouth. The Carpano teams of the late 1950s and early 1960s, managed by Vincenzo Giacotto, were models of their age for their care of riders' health and nutrition and advanced training knowledge. Carpano riders include Fausto Coppi, Nino Defilippis and Franco Balmamion.

Carrera Jeans: Italian clothing maker. Sponsored very successful cycling teams from 1984 to 1996 after becoming the title sponsor of the Inoxpran team. Carrera riders include Stephen Roche, Roberto Visentini, Marco Pantani, Claudio Chiappucci, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, Rolf Sorensen and Urs Zimmermann. Carrera licensed the right to produce Carrera bikes to a firm headed by the team's director, Davide Boifava.

Casino: French chain of super and hypermarkets. It 1996 its subsidiary "Petit Casino" coffee shops took over the Chazal pro team and in 1997 through 1999 Casino was the title Sponsor with Ag2r as co-sponsor. Good Casino riders included Alexandre Vinokourov, Jaan Kirsipuu, Jacky Durand, Pascal Richard and Lauri Aus

Castorama: French retailer of home improvement products. Sponsored Laurent Fignon in 1990 and 1991 using a remarkably ugly team kit that was supposed to mimic a workman in overalls.

Chateau d'Ax: Italian furniture producer.

Chlorodont: German toothpaste marketed vigorously in Italy, Gastone Nencini's (1960 Tour de France winner) sponsor.

Club 88: Beach resort in Montenegro. Co-sponsored Jolly Componibili Italian team in the early and mid-1990s.

Colpack: Maker of polythene bags for refuse collection. Headquartered near Bergamo, Italy, and has been a title or co-sponsor of pro teams for over a decade.

Coppi bicycles: In the 1950s Fausto Coppi licensed his name to Cicli Fiorelli in Novi Ligure, which built Coppi bikes into the 1970s. I have ridden several Fiorelli high-end bikes, both Coppi and Fiorelli branded, and found them among the nicest riding machines I have ever had the pleasure to ride. In the 1990s Masciaghi of Italy re-launched the brand with great fanfare, equipping the Polti team with Coppi bikes.

Creda: British appliance maker now owned by Hotpoint. Co-sponsor of the TI-Raleigh pro team.

d'Alessandro: Defunct Italian tire maker. It was the first brand of tubular tires I imported when I started Torelli in 1981. The brand was then owned by Atalanta Gomma of Bergamo, Italy, which also owned Vittoria. At the time the Vittoria and d'Alessandro tires were identical with different model names on their stickers. Lion Tires of Thailand purchased Vittoria and promoted the brand world wide, but the ancient d'Alessandro brand has lapsed. A search shows the trademark being cancelled in 2008. D'Alessandro was a co-sponsor of teams through the 1950s.

DCM: Belgian plant food maker, co-spnosored Vacansoleil pro team

De Kova:  Raphaël Géminiani had been successful as both a racer (Tour de France KOM 1951, '52 and '57) and as a team manager. He talked the St. Raphaël aperitif company into financing his team in the 1950s, a revolutionary act because the drinks company was not part of the cycle industry. Enter Myriam De Kova, a night club entertainer who was left with too much money after her Greek millionaire husband died. Géminiani took some of Madame De Kova's money to run one of cycling's most spectacularly unsuccessful teams with the plan to revive the dancer's flagging career. The result was 1973's De Kova-Lejeune, notable for its bright pink jerseys and 1966 Tour winner Lucien Aimar (in his last racing season, hoping for one more bite of the apple) as the team's top rider. But Aimar's best days were behind him and finished the Tour 17th while the team occupied the bottom five places in the General Classification.

Domina Vacanze: Italian hotel chain and title sponsor of an early 2000s Pro Tour team with Mario Cipollini.

Domo: Belgian carpet maker.

Elvish: French bike maker (although the brand originated in England in the 19th century) whose most famous rider was Victor Fontan. The company, headquartered in Pau in southwest France, also produced Fontan bikes. Newest bike from Elvish I have ever seen was made in the 1970s, so they are probably out of business.

Europcar: Car rental company formerly owned by Volkswagen but now owned by French investment firm Eurazeo. It has been the title sponsor of the former Bbox Bouygues Telecom team since 2010. The team's most notable rider is Thomas Voeckler.

Etixx: A sports nutrition company founded in 2009, owned by Omega Pharma, which is a Belgium-based subsidiary of Perrigo Company.

Euskaltel: Telecommunications company headquartered near Bilbao, servicing the Basque region of Spain. Since 1994 it has been the titile sponosr of high level teams. Until 2013, Euskaltel riders were supposed be either Basque or have grown up in the Basque cycling culture. In order to retain its Pro Tour status, that policy was abandoned in 2013.

Faema: Italian espresso machine maker founded in 1945. The name is an acronym: Fabbrica Apparecchiature Elettromeccaniche e Affini. Sponsored teams from 1955 through 1970, most notably Eddy Merckx 1968–1970.

Faemino: Italian espresso coffee brand, co-sponsor with Faema of Eddy Merckx in 1970.

Fagor: Spanish appliance company that has both co-sponsored other teams and in the 1980s was a title sponsor.

Fassa Bortolo: Italian building products (plaster, adhesives, paints, etc) maker that sponsored a powerful team managed by Giancarlo Ferretti from 2000 to 2005.

FDJ (La Française des Jeux): France's nation lottery, a sponsor of teams since 1997.

Flandria: Belgian bike and moped maker owned by brothers Aimé and Remi Claeys. The brothers did not get along and built a brick wall in the factory. On one side Aimé made Flandria and on the other Remi produced Superia bikes and mopeds. Flandria's first team raced in 1959, winning 44 races. That trend would continue as Flandria hired the best Flemish racers including Rik van Looy, Walter Godefroot, Roger and Eric de Vlaeminck, Eric Leman, Marc Demeyer, Michel Pollentier and Freddy Maertens. Flandria went bankrupt in 1981. In recent years the brand has been re-launched.

Formaggi Pinzolo Fiavé: A consortium of cheese producers of Trentino, Italy. Sponsored teams from 2001 to 2004.

Frimatic: Defunct French refrigerator maker, sponsored teams run by Jean de Gribaldy 1968–1970. Frimatic riders included Joaquim Agostinho, Walter Planckaert, Regis Delepine and Mogens Frey.

Frisol: Dutch oil trading firm that was the title sponsor of good Dutch teams from 1973 to 1977. Riders included Hennie Kuiper, Luis Ocaña, Harm Ottenbros, Cees Preem, Jan Raas, Fedor den Hartog and José de Cauwer. Frisol was acquired by Petroplus in 2001.

Fynsec: Brandy made by distiller Sarti. Co-sponsor of Jacques Anquetil's Helyett squad 1959–1961.

GAN: French insurance company. From 1973 to 1976 Gan was the title sponsor of the Mercier team that dated back to the 1930s. From 1993 to 1998 GAN sponsored a team that had evolved from the original Peugeot team whose origins go back to the early 1900s.

Ganna: Italian bicycle maker founded by Luigi Ganna, winner of the first Giro d'Italia in 1909. It was when Ganna couldn't afford its professional team in 1954 that the team's top rider, Fiorenzo Magni signed the Nivea face cream as the sport's first major extra-sportif (outside the sport) sponsor.

Garmin: American manufacturer whose primary products involve the Global Positioning System and title sponsor since 2008 of a professional team managed by Jonathan Vaughters.

Génial-Lucifer: Parisian maker of bikes and motorcycles from 1928 to 1956. Sponsored cycling teams from 1929 to 1949 with some very good riders including Jules Lowie, Jef Demuysère, Jean Robic, Charles Pélissier, Gustaaf van Slembroeck, Heiri Suter and Louis Caput.

Ghigi: Italian pasta maker that sponsored Italian teams in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Giant: Giant Manufacturing Company, Ltd. The largest bicycle manufacturer in the world, based in Taiwan.

GreenEdge: Australian fertilizer maker.

Groene Leeuw: Belgian bikes made in the city of Deinze. Sponsored teams for decades, often with Wiel's.

Grundig: German electronics firm that declared itself insolvent in 2003 and is now owned by a Turkish company. Sponsored teams in the 1960s, often with Dr. Mann, and rode Libertas bikes.

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Halfords: British car parts and bike retailer. Co-sponsor (starting in 1986) of the catastrophically mismanaged ANC-Halfords cycling team of 1985–1987. See ANC.

Helyett: French bike maker started in 1919. Helyett began sponsoring riders in 1932. Jacques Anquetil won three of his five Tours de France riding for Helyett, the last being in 1962. That was also the last year Helyett sponsored a professional team. In 1966 the company was merged with Gitane.

Histor: Dutch paint company.

IAM (Independent Asset Management SA): Geneva-based Swiss manager of investments. It began sponsoring a high-end cycling team in 2013.

Ignis: Italian appliance maker whose business boomed during the "Italian Economic Miracle" following World War Two. During the 1950s and '60s Ignis promoted itself largely through sports sponsorship. The firm is now owned by Whirlpool. See Moschettieri.

IJsboerke: Belgian ice cream maker that sponsored a pro team in 1978 and 1979. Walter Godefroot won the 1978 Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) wearing a IJsboerke jersey.

Inoxpran: Italian maker of pots, pans and coffee makers with a pro team from 1979 to 1983. In 1981 Inoxpran rider Giovanni Battaglin won both the Vuelta a España and the Giro d'Italia.

ITP: A British football betting pool and professional cycling's first known extra-sportive sponsor.

Jean Delatour: French jewelry retailer that was a title sponsor of a team from 2000–2003. When Jean Delatour ceased sponsorship, the team became R.A.G.T. Semences-MG Rover in 2004. Good riders on the team included Laurent Brochard, Patrice Halgand, Eddy Seigneur and Laurent Lefèvre.

Jet Star: Jeans company, had Dutch pro team in the late 1970s.

Joker: Originally French fruit juice maker but now owned by Eckes AG of Germany. Since 2008 has co-sponsored the Norwegian Joker-Merida cycling team.

Jolly Componibili: Italian kitchen component maker. Sponsored Italian teams in the early to mid 1990s.

Katusha: The name for a Russian cycling project funded by several large Russian firms including Gasprom and Itera designed to advance Russian cycling. Starting in 2009 it has been the title sponsor of high-end professional teams

La Redoute: France's largest mail-order retailer; sponsored a professional team in the 1970s and 1980s.

Lampre: Italian industrial firm supplying hot-rolled steel pre-coated with a PVC film. The name itself derives from the abbreviation of LAMiere (“steel plate” in Italian) and PREcoated. Since 1990 the firm has sponsored top-flight professional cycling teams.

Le Groupement: French pyramid marketing company that in January, 1995, announced it would sponsor a powerful new team with such luminaries as world road champion Luc Leblanc, Robert Millar, Jean-Paul van Poppel, Pascal Lino and Marcel Wüst. On June 27, days before the start of the Tour de France, Le Groupement, beset with financial problems, withdrew its sponsorship and later filed for bankruptcy. I had agreed to be a technical sponsor of the team by supplying Torelli "BikeBrain" cycle computers plus $12,000. Luckily I had only sent one of six $2,000 payments before the plug was pulled. Troubled by rumors that the team was in difficulty, in late June I called the team's headquarters and talked to one of the managers, who sounded glum. He confirmed the team's collapse and said he was steeling himself to call the team's bike supplier, Bianchi, to tell them they would not be in the Tour de France.

Leo: Italian handcream maker Leocrema was co-sponsor of Gastone Nencini's Leo-Chlorodont teams of the 1950s. Firm now makes a complete line of body care products.

Libertas: Belgian bike company.

Linda McCartney Foods: British vegetarian and vegan food maker started by the late Linda McCartney who was married to former Beatle Paul McCartney. The firm is now owned by the Hain Celestial Group. A team sponsored by McCartney Foods was started in 1988 and rode the Giro d'Italia, among other high-end races. The riders had to pledge to maintain a vegetarian diet while under contract. In 2000 the McCartney company did not renew it sponsorship, a fact the manager did not disclose (he was allowed to continue using the company's logo and name while he tried to find another sponsor) as the team continued to race and pile up debts that eventually came to more than a million dollars. In January of 2001 the team collapsed amid reports some riders hadn't been paid for a year.

Locomotief: Dutch bike maker that produced bikes from 1929 to 1968. In 1968 the brand was acquired by Gazelle. Locomotief sponsored Jan Janssen (1964 World Champion) in 1961 and 1962, and in earlier days Iron Wim Van Est rode for Locomotief.

J. B. Louvet: French bicycle brand founded by Jean-Baptiste Louvet that sponsored teams from cycling's early days days and at least into the late 1940s. Team jerseys were grean and red, causing J.B. Louvet riders to be called Parrots. The brand has since been revived.

Kelme: Spanish sportswear company that sponsored the same professional team from 1980 through 2004. After Kelme withdrew the team was sponsored by the Valencian government. The team collapsed at the end of 2006 amid doping allegations.

KRO: Dutch broadcaster Katholieke Radio Omroep or Catholic Radio Broadcasting. Sponsored KRO-Brandpunt-Visser-Vainqueur in 1970 with Norman Hill and Jack Simes.

Mapei: Italian manufacturer of adhesives for floor coverings and tile as well as grouts, sealants and waterproofing agents that was the title sponsor of powerful teams that were especially successful in the classics during the 1990s.

Magneet: Dutch bicycle maker.

Dr. Mann: Proprietary medicine producer. Sponsored teams 1960–1970 that rode Libertas bikes that sometimes sported Mann decals. Mann teams were usually co-sponsored by Grundig electronics firm.

Margnat: French winemaker and sponsor of Federico Bahamontes in the early 1960s.

Mercatone Uno: Italian supermarket chain selling furniture, appliances, household goods, toys, etc. Title sponsor of teams from 1992–1995 and 1997–2003. Most famous Mercatone Uno rider was Marco Pantani, winner of both the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia in 1998.

Merida industry Co., Ltd. A Taiwan-based bicycle manufacturer founded in 1972. It is now a global company with factories all over the world producing more than two million bicycles a year.

Miko: French ice cream maker started in 1905 and acquired by Unilever in 1994. Co-sponsored Mercier's team from 1977 to 1982

Mobilvetta Design. Italian manufacturer of mobile homes and campers. Sponsored teams 1998–2002.

Moschettieri: Giovanni Borghi, owner of Italian appliance maker Ignis, was stung by accusations that he was using his riches to buy all the good Italian riders so in 1962 rather than naming his team after one of his businesses, he called his team Moschettieri for his three champions, Arnaldo Pambianco, Ercole Baldini, Gastone Nencini.

Molteni: An Italian manufacturer of cold meats (salami) that went bankrupt in 1987. The factory was in Arcore, a small Italian town near Milan. Molteni sponsored riders from 1958–1976. The most famous Molteni rider was Eddy Merckx, but other riders sponsored by the salami maker included Rudi Altig, Franco Balmamion, Gianni Motta and Marino Basso. The Molteni family now produces preserved meats under the Salmilano brand.

Movistar: Spanish mobile phone operator owned by Telefónica S.A. Beginning in 2011 Movistar became the title sponsor of a top Spanish team.

Nippo: Japanese maker of construction and paving materials.


Omega Pharma: Belgian pharmaceutical company that makes over-the-counter drugs and skin care products. Since 2012 it has been a title sponsor of a top professional team managed by Patrick Lefévère. Tom Boonen is its most notable rider.

Orica: Australian maker of mining supplies.

O.N.C.E.:Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles or National Organization of Spanish Blind People, a foundation that raises money, mostly through a lottery, to provide services the visually impaired. To publicize the lottery, from 1989 to 2003 the foundation sponsored a well-funded and successful professional cycling team.

Paloma: Spanish bike and scooter maker. Among others, sponsored Louison Bobet in 1962 and Federico Bahamontes 1962–1965.

Pelforth: French ale producer now owned by Heineken. Sponsored Jan Janssen during the most productive years of his professional career. "Bloody good stuff it is too", said Alan Ramsbottom, one of its riders.

La Perle: French bike maker, Jacques Anquetil's first professional sponsor.

Peugeot: French bike maker that is part of a large industrial family. Early in cycling's history Peugeot saw the value of sponsoring racers and teams. Early 20th century Peugeot teams were among the most dominant ever. Peugeot was not only an early entrant into cycle racing, it was one of the last firms to be the title sponsor of a high end team, 1986 being the last year for a "Peugeot" professional team. For years thereafter, pro teams still rode Peugeot bikes. Peugeot teams were notorious for their tight-fisted financial management. Riders even had to buy their own socks and tires.

Polti: Italian appliance maker that had high end teams in the late 1990s. Polti rider Ivan Gotti won the 1999 Giro d'Italia.

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Quick Step: Maker of flooring founded in southwest Flanders in 1960. It has been a sponsor of top-end cycling teams since at least 1999.

Quinquina: A type of bitter aperitif such as St. Raphaël.


Rabobank: Dutch multinational banking giant headquartered in Utrecht, Netherlands. The name is made from Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank. Beginning in 1996 it became the title sponsor of Novell Software-Decca, a team with several earlier incarnations: Wordperfect, Buckler, Superconfex-Yoko and Kwantum Hallen-Decosol. See: Blanco

Rapha: A sweet wine produced by the owner of the maker of St. Raphaël aperitif. Rapha riders include Tom Simpson and Rudi Altig.

Refin: Italian ceramic tile maker.

RMO: Relation Main d'Oeuvre, a French supplier of temporary workers that in 1986 became the title sponsor to the La Redoute team. In 1986 and 1987 it was directed by two-time Tour de France winner Bernard Thévenet. The team folded at the end of 1992 when RMO could not pay its workers and went bankrupt. The team had some of France's best riders, including Charly Mottet, Marc Madiot, Ronan Pensec, Richard Virenque, Pascal Lino and Thierry Claveyrolat.

St. Raphaël: French aperitif that in 1954 became one of the first extra-sportif (company outside of the cycling industry) sponsors of professional racing. In the 1950s St. Raphaël and its sister company Rapha sponsored some of the greats: Jacques Anquetil, Roger Hassenforder, Raphaël Géminiani, Miguel Poblet, Jean Stablinski.

Salvarani: Italian kitchen components maker. Had a cycling team 1963–1972. Most important Salvarani rider was Felice Gimondi.

Sidermec: Italian company specializing in tin-plating steel to be used for packaging. Since 2000 Sidermec has been a constant co-sponsor of good Italian teams.

Sinalco: Oldest soft drink brand in Europe. The German firm co-sponsored teams in the 1950s.

Smiths: British maker of potato chips (crisps) that sponsored Belgian team in the 1960s and managed by directing legend Guillaume Driessens. At one point in its history Smiths was sold to Nabisco and then in 1990 to PepsiCo.

Solo: Belgian margarine maker now owned by Unilever that sponsored teams in 1958 and 1961–1966. Riders in the 1960s that rode for Solo included Rik van Steenbergen, Rik van Looy and Eddy Merckx.

La Sportive:  After World War One, France was miserable with every kind of shortage. The bicycle manufacturers were unable individually to sponsor teams as they had before the war. They banded together under the name “La Sportive”. Historian William Fotheringham says this consortium gave the bike companies an added benefit. They could, through their newfound sponsorship monopoly, control the riders’ salaries. In 1922 the bike makers went back to sponsoring their own teams.

Southeast: Shortened name of SouthEast Space Frame Company, a Chinese construction firm.

Spring Oil: Mammoth Italian petrochemical company with a world-wide reach. Sponsored Italian teams in the 1960s. Its 1963 team was directed by Faliero Masi and included Franco Bitossi and Gastone Nencini.

Starnord: Small, family-owned bike maker in Valenciennes, northern France. Made complete line of bikes, but never kept inventory. All orders, even childrens' bikes were made to order. For a while it had the rights to make Eddy Merckx bikes in France. Sponsored teams off and on after the Second World War

Tebag: Swiss bike maker that sponsored teams in the late 1940s and 1950s. Riders on Tebags include Rolf Graf, Ferdy Kübler and Hugo Koblet.

Televizier: Dutch TV listings magazine. Sponsored teams from 1961 to 1967 with some good riders, including Evert Dolman, Jo de Haan, Gerben Karstens and Jo de Roo.

Tenax: Italian plastics company with factories worldwide. Sponsored pro teams in the early and mid 2000s.

Tricofilina: Italian brilliantine (men's hair oil). Sponsored the well-groomed Fausto Coppi in 1959, his last season. Other riders on the 1959 Tricofilina-Coppi team were Federico Bahamontes, Michele Gismondi, Roger Hassenforder and Désiré Keteeler.

Tulip: Dutch computer maker. Sponsored Spanish and Belgian pro teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

TVM: Dutch insurance company specializing in insuring transportation companies.

Vacansoleil: Dutch (headquarters are in Eindhoven) tour operator and camping holiday booking company founded in 1969

Vampire: French bike maker with small pro team in early 1950s.

Vini Caldirola: Italian wine producer with high end teams 1998–2001, 2003–2004. Good riders wearing Vini Caldirola kits included Francesco Casagrande (for a while the UCI #1 rider who was also very skilled at losing the Giro d'Italia), Stefano Garzelli, Dario Frigo, Pavel Tonkov and Romans Vainsteins.

Watney: British brewer that had ambitions of expanding into beer-loving Belgium. In the early 1970s Watney sponsored a high-end Belgian team with Flemish hardman Frans Verbeeck. The Belgians didn't buy the plan to set up British pubs in their country, the brewery was closed and the brand sold to Diageo.

Wickes: British home improvement retailer that for a while had stores in northern continental Europe. In 1996 problems with Wickes' accounting caused a scandal and bank foreclosures that forced the firm to withdraw from mainland Europe. In the early 1980s Wickes co-sponsored a Belgian team.

Wiel's: Belgian low-alcohol beer brewer.

Willem II: Dutch cigar maker and co-sponsor of the Willem II-Gazelle pro cycling team of 1966–1970.

Z: French children's clothing company. Most famous for sponsoring Greg LeMond's Z team of 1990 to 1994. LeMond won his third Tour de France in a Z kit in 1990.