Endurance: Belkin

van GarderenAP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezThe Los Angeles-based consumer technology firm Belkin has taken a hard stance against doping.
PARIS -- Cycling got a pre-Tour de France boost with a new American team sponsor that vowed "zero tolerance" for doping.

Los Angeles-based consumer technology firm Belkin stepped into the void left by Rabobank, the Dutch lender that ended 17 years of cycling sponsorship last October, saying it was no longer convinced the doping-tainted sport can become "clean and honest."

This year, while it looked for a new title sponsor, the Netherlands-based team competed as Blanco, the Spanish word for "white" -- a name chosen to demonstrate that the team was making a fresh start.

The newly renamed Belkin Pro Cycling Team will make its racing debut at the Tour that starts Saturday on the French island of Corsica.

Belkin signed as title sponsor through 2015. The firm's founder and CEO, Chet Pipkin, wouldn't give a dollar figure but said the firm's sponsorship is "a huge investment for us, the biggest one we have ever made in the marketing arena."

Rabobank's withdrawal of $20 million per year of sponsorship for the team was one of the repercussions of cycling's ongoing effort against doping and the fall of Lance Armstrong. After the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency unmasked Armstrong as a serial doper, the bank said "the trust in the cycling world has gone."

Speaking in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Pipkin addressed how he would respond if told doping is necessary for success in cycling.

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