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Team Rona becomes Team Rona-Esker

Montreal, Canada - 25th February 2003

Montreal, February 25, 2003 - Team RONA welcomes a new partner and becomes Team RONA-Esker. EskerTM Spring Water joins the Canadian hardware and home improvement leader in supporting Geneviève Jeanson, Melissa Holt, Magali Le Floc'h, Catherine Marsal and their teammates. The agreement between RONA and Esker extends to the end of the 2004 cycling season.

Esker is a new brand of Canadian spring water that hit the market in September 2002. Located in Abitibi, in northern Quebec, the Esker spring is operated by the Canadian company Eaux Vives Harricana Inc., a member of the Parmalat group, the Italian multinational food company. Currently available in Canada (Quebec and Ontario), the United States (Arizona and California), and Asia (Hong Kong and Singapore), Esker is planning to carve itself a place among the 13 largest bottled water companies in the world within three years.

The company takes its brand name from a rare geological formation that filters water naturally. Eskers provide water of exceptional purity, with a pH identical to that of the human body. Esker is the only bottled water in the world tapped from this type of formation.

Supporting the team's development

"We are very pleased to welcome this new partner," declared Claude Bernier, RONA's senior vice-president, traditional stores, and manager of the cycling team sponsorship program. "Developing the team entails increasing financial needs. We really want to see the team develop, and we're happy to welcome a co-sponsor like Esker."

"The RONA-Esker cycling team is an ideal way for us to create our brand awareness," explained Ghislain Gauthier, vice-president of sales and marketing at Eaux Vives Harricana. "The team is known all over the world, and associating the Esker brand with healthy, athletic young women achievers fits our market positioning perfectly. The link is completely natural. Moreover, we will actually sell our water through the RONA network of stores." In addition to its financial contribution, Esker will supply the team with water, which it consumes in prodigious quantities.

Despite the team's new identity, the Esker logo will not appear on the team's jerseys in 2003. Biemme had already finished making the official jerseys when the agreement was finalized with the team's new sponsor. The new team logo and the Esker logo will be seen on a host of other articles, however, including the team's street wear, vehicles and of course their water bottles!

Team RONA-Esker is one of only two Canadian women's cycling teams in the elite category that are recognized by the International Cycling Union. The team is made up of four Canadian racers (Geneviève Jeanson, Andrea Hannos, Carrie Tuck and Erinne Willock), French racers Catherine Marsal and Magali Le Floc'h, New Zealander Melissa Holt, German Karen Bockel and American Kristen LaSasso.

RONA is Canada's leading hardware and home improvement retailer. Its website is at www.rona.ca. Esker is a natural spring water from the north of Canada, sold in North America and Asia. Its website can be found at www.eskerwater.com.

The team also receives equipment and service sponsorships from many companies, including Colnago, Biemme, Shimano, Michelin, Mavic, Diadora, Limar, Selle Italia, ITM, Look, CatEye, Tacx, Finish Line, Cane Creek, Saris, Power Tap, Trialtir, Cycles Lambert and Club Médico-Sportif.

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