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Specialized announced Monday that it will shift its sponsorship focus to the Boels-Dolmans Women’s Cycling Team for 2015.
The brand will step back from its title-sponsor role with Velocio Sports’ Specialized-Lululemon squad, the top American women’s team in 2014 and the winning team of the world time trial championship on Sunday in Ponferrada, Spain.
Specialized will be taking both Lululemon and American talent Evelyn Stevens with it to Boels-Dolman; the two-time U.S. national time trial champion and 2012 Flèche Wallone winner has signed a contract with the Dutch squad for 2015.
Specialized will stay on as the tire sponsor with the Velocio team, which has yet to announce a title sponsor for 2015.
“Women’s cycling is the top priority for Specialized over the next three years,” said the Specialized women’s product manager, Erin Sprague. “We’ve been trying to keep things quiet for the past few weeks, but we are happy to announce the launch of the new Boels-Dolmans women’s racing team.”
Specialized has already been working with Boels-Dolmans as a technical sponsor, providing bikes, helmets and other hard goods, but the recent announcement will expand the relationship between the team and bike company.
“We will be fully onboard with Boels-Dolmans next year,” Sprague said. “That includes time in the wind tunnel, doing testing, advanced product development and focusing exclusively on that team.”
Specialized and Lululemon will be stepping back from their current flagship women’s team, Specialized-lululemon, which is managed by Velocio Sports, in order to begin sponsorship efforts with the newly reworked Boels-Dolmans team.
“We have been a part of the Specialized-lululemon team for the past three years and it was a great fit for us at that point in women’s cycling, but women’s cycling isn’t a start-up anymore, women’s racing is happening. Both funding and expectations in the sport have increased, so we want a bigger platform for what we can do in women’s cycling.” Sprague said, “Lululemon will join the new Boels-Dolmans team as an off-the-bike clothing provider, and will continue to do artistic collaborations with Specialized.”
Adding to an already strong team of riders, which includes 2013 world time trial champion Ellen van Dijk and former British national champion Lizzie Armitstead, Boels-Dolmans have signed up and coming Dutch rider Chantal Blaak along with Stevens to its 2015 roster.
“Being able to bring a personality and powerhouse like Evie [Stevens] to the team should do great things for women’s cycling here in the US,” said Sprague. “We see Ellen van Dijk, Lizzi Armitstead, and Evie Stevens as three of the fastest riders in the women’s peloton right now, and we hope that they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Boels Rental, a heavy machinery rental company based out of Belgium, and Dolmans, a landscaping company, are heavily involved in women’s cycling. Along with holding the title sponsorship for the team, Boels Rental will support the Boels Ronde van Drenthe, Flèche Wallone Feminine, The Boels Rental Hills Classic, and the Boels Rental Ladies Tour in the 2015 season.
Boels-Dolmans 2015 roster:
Ellen van Dijk
Demi de Jong
* One top rider is still being negotiated