AALTER, BELGIUM – After Baboco Cycling Team saw its Under-23 rider Pawel Szczepaniak stripped of his World Cyclocross Champion jersey last season due to a positive doping result, the team proactively took a stand against drugs to prevent a repeat in the future. Making its stance public, Babaco Cycling Team recently partnered with Bike Pure, an international organization committed to promoting a drug-free future for cycling.
Baboco Team Manager Steven Baekelandt explains, “In our team’s first season of existence, I admit I was a little naïve. I knew drugs were in cycling but it never occurred to me that it could happen within our team. We treat our racers like part of the family, which is why I was so surprised to hear the news of Pawel.”
Due to this devastating turn of events, Baboco Cycling Team suffered a sponsorship loss close to one million Euros. Considering Baekelandt’s ultimate goal is to take his team to the size of BKCP-Powerplus in the next couple of years, this was a big hit for them. With a smaller budget to realize his dreams, Baekelandt made a few alterations. While last year’s team was built around currently retired three-time World Champion Erwin Vervecken, it now puts its efforts behind young promising riders where the virtues of biking clean can be instilled.
Leading the team is 27-year-old returning Polish National Champion Mariusz Gil. A few other standout riders on the team are former BKCP-Powerplus rider and first-year elite Gianni Denolf, Junior Michael Vanthourenhout who has frequented the podium , and Floris de Tier who has already represented Belgium at the Kalmthout World Cup in his first year in the Under-23 category.
Baboco Cycling Team’s newfound priority is to create a relaxed environment for the riders so they feel support without pressure to dip into the proverbial cookie jar for that extra edge to obtain a certain result. “Our guys get the chance to grow without any stress,” says Baekelandt. Adding, “And to remind them of this, each rider has signed a Bike Pure agreement so they know that we support them on bad days too. Honesty and integrity comes first and foremost on our team.”
Co-Founder of Bike Pure Myles Mc Corry couldn’t agree more with Baekelandt’s sentiments. “A team, like a parent, has a responsibility to look after those in its care. We are delighted that Baboco Cycling Team has aligned with our ethos. Our sport has a damaged image and we all have our part to play to create a better future. We wish the Baboco Team a successful, clean and fast season ahead,” says Mc Corry.
Baekelandt plans to grow the team step by step, applying the same successful principles to the team as he has to his Baboco Company, which handles coordination for construction projects. With the level of respect and loyalty he has earned from his riders through his supportive approach, he may reach his goal to be one of the most powerful teams in no time as he grooms his riders – in a safe environment – for greatness.
For more information on Bike Pure, visit: www.bikepure.org
For more information on Baboco Cycling Team, visit: www.babococyclingteam.com