Jumbo-Visma could see Saudi sponsorship in 2024 as NEOM look to step in with leading role

NEOM City, the world's largest architectural project located in Saudi Arabia, is considering taking over the lead sponsorship of the Jumbo-Visma cycling team from 2024. According to a Middle Eastern source close to the situation, NEOM is seriously exploring the world of cycling and sees sponsorship of the leading team as a unique opportunity.

NEOM City is an ambitious project that will encompass numerous cities, resorts and diverse developments. With a planned area of 26,500 km² (almost the size of Belgium), NEOM will stretch for 460 kilometers along the Red Sea coast. The project is majority financed by the Public Investment Fund, which invests on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government. According to the Saudi company in charge of NEOM's development, the fund is contributing $500 billion to the project.

This megaproject is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, a plan to diversify the country's economy and reduce dependence on oil revenues. According to the ambitious timelines set, much of NEOM should be built by 2030. The first part to be completed will be the luxury island of Sindalah, with the intention of welcoming the first guests in early 2024. This would be an ideal time to launch a major sponsorship campaign.

Richard Plugge, CEO of Jumbo-Visma, describes the interest from the Middle East as "interesting". So far, Plugge says he has had no contact with NEOM representatives. However, he acknowledges that they may be in contact with one of the agencies in charge of finding new sponsors for the team. The team is currently in serious talks with several international companies, but there are no concrete agreements yet.

NEOM presents itself as a project committed to sustainability, seeking to build a carbon neutral city, without cars or streets, and powered entirely by wind and solar energy. In this sense, cycling fits perfectly with the image NEOM aims to project.

NEOM calls itself "the future of sports" and aspires to become a global sports hub. The project aims to partner with international sports brands, organize major sporting events and promote an excellent quality of life for its residents, thus contributing to NEOM's innovative economy.

Sport has become an important political tool for Saudi leaders in recent years. Stijn Janssen, a Dutch tax economist based in the Middle East who has been involved in several major sports deals, also agrees with this view. Saudi Arabia has been making big investments in cycling including the new Saudi Tour, the sponsorship of Team Jayco AlUla and possible move into Movistar team as well - in other sports the financial spending has been incredibly high with the same purpose.

NEOM's potential sponsorship of Jumbo-Visma represents a new opportunity for both the cycling team and the Saudi project amidst the departure of title sponsor Jumbo. As negotiations progress, details are expected to be finalized and it is expected to be revealed whether NEOM City will become the team's new title sponsor as of 2024, which would certainly mark a significant milestone in the relationship between cycling and NEOM's ambitious project.

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