New structure for Rabobank - Knebel new team manager

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27.11.2007/ The Executive Board of the Rabobank Group today approved the proposed revised structure for Rabo Wielerploegen BV. The primary changes are the revised composition of the management, the appointment of one rather than three statutory directors and the merger of the cycling team’s Advisory Board and Supervisory Board. These changes are connected with the conclusions and recommendations of the Vogelzang Committee. The committee investigated the so called Rasmussen affair.

Copyright Heinz Zwicky
Michael Rasmussen won at the Aubisque (picture: Heinz Zwicky)

In a press release the Rabobank stated that it: "is committed through these revisions to bringing about a change of culture within its own team and to contributing towards the realisation of structural improvements within the international sport of cycling. Enhanced whereabouts systems and more intensive health and doping tests constitute an integral part of the revised structure."

It seems that the sponsor wants more control of the team by appointing Harold Knebel as team manager. The press release continued with: "These far-reaching changes to the structure of Rabo Wielerploegen BV are in line with the recommendations of the Vogelzang Committee and we hope that through these measures we will be able to once again raise the sport of cycling to a higher plane. Through the appointment of Harold Knebel, who is currently Director of Private Banking at Rabobank Nederland, we are gaining a General Managing Director who is removed somewhat from the world of cycling, but who also has tremendous affinity with the sport. The fact that he is an experienced manager is also extremely important. This appointment means the management will be placed in the hands of a single member statutory board with overall responsibility. All sport-specific, medical and operational tasks will be overseen by a management team. A Medical Manager will also be appointed to this team in accordance with the Vogelzang Committee’s recommendation,’ says Piet van Schijndel, Member of the Executive Board of the Rabobank Group responsible for the cycling portfolio."

Margo Vliegenthart appointed Chairman of the new Supervisory Board
The Vogelzang Committee recommends assigning a stronger role to the Advisory Board. The Executive Board of the Rabobank Group has consequently decided to merge the Advisory Board and the Supervisory Board. The newly structured Supervisory Board of Rabo Wielerploegen BV will consist of four to a maximum of five supervisory directors. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board will preferably come from outside the bank. Margo Vliegenthart will be nominated for the position of Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Rabo Wielerploegen BV.

Harold Knebel appointed new General Managing Director of Rabo Wielerploegen BV
H.A.J.M. (Harold) Knebel (45), who is currently Director of Rabobank Private Banking and was formerly Director of Schretlen & Co NV, will be appointed General Managing Director of Rabo Wielerploegen BV effective 1 March 2008.

Harold Knebel joined Rabobank Nederland in 1989 as an investment analyst. He then transferred to Schretlen & Co NV in 1991 to take up a position as Director of Investment Strategy. He was appointed Statutory Director of Schretlen & Co NV in 1998.

Henri van der Aat has been asked to carry out his current position of interim General Managing Director until 1 March 2008. Mr Van der Aat will also continue to serve as the team’s international relations adviser after Harold Knebel assumes the position of General Managing Director.

Erik Breukink remains as first team leader at Rabo Wielerploegen BV
While the Executive Board of the Rabobank Group and the Supervisory Board of Rabo Wielerploegen BV have concluded to relieve Erik Breukink of his responsibilities as member of the Board of Directors with immediate effect, the boards have also decided to request him to stay on as  first team leader. Geert Leinders will likewise be relieved immediately of his responsibilities as director. He will continue to work for the team in the role of physician. The Vogelzang Committee report already confirmed that the committee does not question the integrity of either member of the Board of Directors. Erik Breukink has agreed to the proposal and is delighted that he will be a member of the new management team. He fully understands his dismissal as director: "I respect the Executive Board’s decision and am pleased that I will now be able to once again focus fully on the team management. The team management has learned from what has happened. For me personally, I know now that I should have been more alert. I unconditionally endorse the more stringent policy regarding whereabouts and the new approach based on providing the riders with more intensive coaching and management."

The full Vogelzang committee report about the Rasmussen case in PDF format:

click here to download file

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