Saxo Bank has confirmed it is to continue as lead sponsor of Bjarne Riis’s professional cycling team through to the end of the 2012 season.

Danish online trading and investment company Saxo Bank has been involved with the team since 2008, and has now signed up for the 2012 season alongside co-sponsor, US-based software company Sungard.

“It is indeed a great day for our cycling team,” said team owner Bjarne Riis on Tuesday.

“Saxo Bank is an extremely professional company, so I am proud that Saxo Bank has a strong faith in our work and continues to see the commercial benefits in sponsoring our team.”

“Since 2008 we have shown in both words and actions, that we are a great match, and I am convinced we will continue to grow together because of the obvious benefits in a long term relationship.

“The continuity in our partnership also means a lot for the riders and for me personally. Now we can focus all our attention on creating results and the working process of putting together a strong rider group for next year.”

Multi-Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador signed a two-year deal with Saxo Bank-Sungard last year. The deal was soon surrounded in controversy when it was revealed that Contador has failed an anti-doping control for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France.

Contador blamed the positive on the consumption of a tainted steak brought to France from Spain by a friend. He was subsequently cleared by the Spanish Cycling Federation, but both the Union Cycliste Internationale and the World Anti-Doping Agency have lodged appeals with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against his acquittal.

CAS recently postponed Contador’s hearing until after the 2011 Tour de France, leaving Contador free to take part in the event next month. Contador won the Giro d’Italia in May.

Riis’s team suffered a mass exodus at the end of the 2010 season when Frank and Andy Schleck, Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O’Grady and Jens Voigt were among those who left to join the new Leopard-Trek team.

“Saxo Bank has always believed it was a sound commercial decision to support Bjarne Riis and the rest of the team but at the same time, it is hard to exaggerate the impact Bjarne Riis has on Danish and international cycling,” said Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen, Co-CEOs and co-founders of Saxo Bank in a joint statement.

“We have a genuine desire to support Bjarne and provide the team with the necessary resources it takes to stay on top. Bjarne Riis and the team are a huge inspiration and motivation for many young talents, and Saxo Bank is proud to continue to ensure a world class cycling team in Denmark.”

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Riis welcomes Contador and Saxo Bank’s continuation