The names of the pro teams are part of the language of cycling, but what the title sponsors actually do is sometimes a mystery to most of us. Okay, we all know that Ineos is a chemical company with a sideline in Land Rover wannabe cars and BMC Racing Team didn't leave much room for confusion, but some of the sponsors are a little more obscure. Here are some of the most interesting from the top levels of the sport.
The second tier Pro Continental roster is where you'll find some of the most marvellously obscure sponsors (at least from an Anglophone point of view). Androni Giocattoli is an Italian maker of kids' toys, known for beach toys (yes, buckets and spades) and a Lego Duplo lookalike, Unico Plus.
Also from Italy, Sidermec makes steel sheet for the canning industry, which has to be one of the more oblique marketing-via-sponsorship propositions. It's not like anyone chooses a can of beans because the manufacturer of the steel used to make the can sponsors bike racing.
Bora makes hobs that draw cooking vapours and smells away before they can spread around your house, hence all the videos of former world champion Peter Sagan cooking that appeared on social media a while ago. To be fair, he does them well in a Blue Peter kind of way.
For the record, fellow title sponsor Hansgrohe makes taps, sinks, showers and stuff like that, if you were wondering.
The Segafredo half of Trek-Segafredo refers to an Italian coffee brand. It’s no surprise to find coffee featuring among the World Tour team sponsors, caffeine being about as central to cycling as shaved legs and Lycra. It always has been. You might well know, for example, that the Faema name which was emblazoned across Eddy Merckx’s chest for a large part of his career is a brand of coffee machine. Saeco, sponsor of the hugely successful team of Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini in the late 90s, also makes coffee machines.
One of the longest-running teams in the pro peloton, Patrick Lefevere's squad has had Quick-Step flooring as its principal or secondary sponsor since 1999.
New principal sponsor Deceuninck NV is a Flanders-based multi-national designer and producer of PVC building materials such as windows, doors and cladding.
Headquartered in Polkowice, Poland, CCC is a retailer and manufacturer of shoes and bags. They don't make cycling shoes, which is a bit disappointing, but the team is nevertheless Poland's first WorldTour team.
Soudal makes adhesives. 300ml of its white Decorator’s Caulk will cost you just a quid from Homebase.
Mapei, a big name in cycling in the 1990s and early 2000s, is also well represented in your local DIY store thanks to a range that covers a similar area.
Oh, and vaguely related, there’s Quick-Step flooring, of course.
The team run by double Paris-Roubaix winner Marc Madiot (far left, above) got a substantial cash injection for 2018 when French-based insurance company Groupama came on board as a sponsor
FDJ stands for Francaise des Jeux (which roughly translates as ‘French Games’) which is the operator of France's national lottery. No prizes for working out that Lotto of Lotto-Soudal is also a lottery.
Jumbo is a supermarket chain in the Netherlands. Given the amount of food your typical pro cyclist inhales in a day, a supermarket is a logical sponsor for a racing team. French supermarket cooperative Systeme U sponsored a team back in the 1980s that included Tour de France winner Laurent Fignon, though Fignon's Systeme U era is best remembered for his losing the 1989 Tour de France to Greg Lemond by just eight seconds.
Visma is a Norwegian software company specialising in business, administration and government systems. As far as we can tell, that's exactly as boring as it sounds.
If you're looking at the team group photo and thinking "Blimey there's a lot of them", that's because the line-up includes the 11 speed skaters also supported by the same organisation.
Astana Pro Team is sponsored by a group of state-owned companies from Kazakhstan and is named after its capital city. Fun fact 1: Astana is the second coldest capital city in the world after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, despite sitting at roughly the same latitude as London. True. You can impress your friends with that one, if your friends are easily impressed. Fun fact 2: The city is now called Nur-Sultan, having been renamed in 2019 in honour of Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan from 1990 to 2019. A fiver says it changes again if Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party ever loses power.
Premier Tech is a Canadian agricultural products and industrial solutions company.
This one is pretty well known; Movistar is a big Spanish mobile phone and broadband operator owned by Telefónica, the company behind O2.
Cofidis is properly called Cofidis Solutions Crédits, and you don’t need to be fluent in French to work out that the company specialises in consumer credit. Finance is well represented in the pro peloton: AG2R La Mondiale provides life insurance and pensions while Caja Rural from the Caja Rural – Seguros RGA Pro Continental team is a Spanish bank, and Seguros RGA is one of its subsidiaries, in what we think is a ubique example of a team being sponsored by two bits of the same company.
DSM is a Netherlands-based multi-national chemical company. The TLA stands for Dutch State Mines because the firm started as a Government enterprise to mine coal in the Limburg region. Coal mining ceased there in 1973, but the name remains to acknowledge the company's origins.
The team is no more, having folded at the end of 2019, but how could we not mention a squad called Roompot? Hailing from the Netherlands, Roompot Parks is another holiday park company, while Charles is a brand of charcuterie and salad products: sliced meats, bacon and like that.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.