Interview with CEO Francis Van Eckhout
Deaconinc chief Francis van Eckhout between the Blantor drivers – Pura Celine del Carmen Alvarado (left) and Beck Peters (right). | Photo: Alpecin – Fenix
02.12.2021 | (rsn) – Belgian window manufacturer Deceuninck called on Patrick Levere and the racing team after three years together, despite several joint victories. As it has now been announced, the company will join the Belgian team Alpecin – Fenix from next season – but not as title sponsor, but only initially as co-sponsor, which means less financial outlay. So far it wouldn’t be a big problem.
But the reasons for this team’s change from Dekoning’s managing director Francis van Eckhout made people sit up and take notice on Wednesday: the lack of a women’s team, the possibility of cross races to attract attention in the winter and Lefevere’s future plans were crucial. Exactly in that order. Van Eckhout, who has lived in Koblenz and Hanover for two years and is therefore fluent in German, now explains this to radsport-news.com:
“There are several reasons for the decision. First of all, Patrick does not have a women’s team. We are a young company in 2021 and we can’t see that women are experiencing a decline in the sport,” the Belgian said, stressing also that. One first decided to leave the Lefeveres racing team and only then the idea came up to join the racing team of the Roodhooft brothers around Mathieu van der Poel and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado.
“First of all, 50 percent of our clients are women,” Van Eckhout explained. “But regardless, as a modern company, it can basically no longer be seen differently.”
“Patrick is Patrick”
This is why they spoke with Lefevere several times about starting a women’s team. But Patrick is Patrick,” said Van Eckhout. He didn’t want to go into the discussions in more detail because they were private. “But he was clearly not a professional. He has also said many times in the press. Financially, women’s cycling is still not the most interesting thing for the teams and team leaders, I think. But for us sponsors it is important. “
Just as it is important to him as a pastor to remain visible all year round. That’s why Cross also played a role in the decision of the new partner, the Alpecin-Fenix team. This way, you get at least two months of media attention in the winter, especially in the main Dekoninc markets in Belgium, the Netherlands and France. In regards to bidding farewell to the former Deceuninck – Quick-Step team, Van Eckhout also stated that future goals for team boss Patrick Lefevre have addressed the presence of the sponsor throughout the year.
It’s true that Deceuninck – Quick-Step has celebrated a lot of victories over the entire road season in recent years and has had a good relationship. But Lefevere’s direction goes more and more towards the victory of the Tour de France.
Focus on the goal of the round victory big risk
“In Patrick, all the older drivers for a day are slowly leaving and being replaced by younger drivers, who are basically supposed to be Evenepoel’s assistants at the Tour de France,” said van Eckhout.
“That’s Patrick’s big goal of winning the Tour de France. But it’s very difficult and risky. You need other drivers and a much bigger budget. Take Jumbo-Visma, for example: there’s a woman holding a cardboard sign on the side of the road, ES falls and Roglic loses. every chance to win the round.
Thus, focusing on that is a risk he is not willing to share with a larger financial investment. After all, for a team winning the Grand Tour, you need an annual budget of more than 20 million euros. Van Eeckhout prefers to be successful year-round in a variety of countries – “We also sell windows in Australia, Colombia or the Middle East”. He’s not afraid to be too focused on Mathieu van der Poel’s fate in Alpecin-Fenix.
Perhaps the title sponsor again in the future?
“Mathieu is important of course, but also for Alpecin – Fenix won nine different drivers this year and the Roodhooft brothers want to expand the team in a way that more can be added. Then there are the women and also the cross, through which we will get another two months of potential interest,” he stressed However, the decision was very good and, above all, well thought out from a purely economic point of view:
“Cycling is not my hobby. This decision is economically well thought out – just like the decision to sponsor cycling is really well thought out because the teams are named after their donors,” says van Eckhout, who would love to see Deceuninck in the team name again. In the future. “We hope to build something bigger here with Alpecin, Fenix and the Roodhooft brothers in the coming years. Unfortunately, at first we only had the logo on the pants and shirt – there was no place in the name. But that cannot be ruled out in the future.”
The same amount of money you will spend again in the future. The investment in the ProTeam Alpecin – Fenix is of course slightly less than it was in Lefevere’s WorldTour racing team. “We were the main sponsor of the best team in the world, now we are a co-sponsor of team number three or four and we are no longer in the name. Of course, this is a lot less money. But again: we hope to be able to expand the name of the team.”
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