Saudi urbanism could take over sponsorship of Jumbo Visma
Neom's pharaonic project could become the main sponsor of the current Jumbo-Visma. The rumor could become a reality from 2025, as the Dutch supermarket chain has announced that it will leave the formation at the end of next season. The team manager has fueled the news by not denying the information.
Saudi Arabia could be preparing its landing in cycling: will we have a future Neom-Visma team?
Sport is a showcase seen by millions of people, an opportunity for brands to show off their logos and countries to show the world their friendliest face. The states of the Middle East know this and have been hosting sporting events of all kinds for years, such as the recent World Cup in Qatar. In particular, Saudi Arabia hosts the Dakar Rally, Formula 1, the Spanish Super Cup and has been in the news because several football clubs have signed some stars for their squads.
With this background, it is quite plausible that the Saudi country is planning to enter cycling as the main sponsor of one of the most important teams in the world. A possibility that increases even more if we take into account that Bahrain-Victorious and UAE Team Emirates have been a reality for years.
Richard Plugge, director of Jumbo-Visma, confirmed on the Dutch website WilierFlits that they are in talks with different parties. And although he said he was not aware of Neom's interest when asked about it, it may have been the agencies they have hired for the occasion that have been in talks.
This was explained by Plugge himself, who also stated that he found the idea "interesting", "it is possible that one of our contacts or one of the agencies we have hired to find us a new sponsor is in contact with this party".
The negotiations are aimed at filling the gap left by Jumbo in the formation. The supermarket chain has already informed that it will disassociate itself from the project at the end of 2024, as well as with most of the teams and athletes they sponsor.
For their part, both Visma and Cérvelo have announced that they will continue with the team in the coming years.
The ambitious Neom project has been defined as the largest architectural plan in the world and has a budget of 500 billion dollars. The future city plans to be built by 2030 and cover an area of 26,500 square kilometers, i.e. larger than Slovenia or El Salvador.
The surprising goals they intend to achieve have raised some doubts about the apparent difficulty of creating an ecological and self-sufficient project located in the desert. This has made some sectors think that Neom's intention would be to practice what is known as 'greenwashing', something similar to what some oil companies had also tried to carry out in cycling.
In any case, this is nothing more than speculation and the real reason for the Saudi interest in the pedal sport is unknown for the moment.