Team CSC have signed up a new co-sponsor in the shape of Saxo, a ‘leading online investment bank’. From immediate effect, the team will be known as Team CSC-Saxo Bank.
At the end of the 2008 racing season, Saxo Bank will become sole sponsor of the squad going into 2009, signalling the termination of CSC’s eight-year involvement with top-level cycling.
“With Saxo Bank, we have found the perfect partner for the future,” said Riis at a press conference in Copenhagen this afternoon.
“We are extremely proud to become associated with such a strong brand and a company that has a great passion for our team and our values. It has been a pleasure closing a deal with such dedicated and professional people as Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen [of Saxo Bank].”
“From day one, we have found a great understanding and this promises to become a first class collaboration for the years to come.”
This is great news for team owner Bjarne Riis and the ProTour in general. After several high-profile sponsorship withdrawals in the past two years (bye bye T-Mobile, Liberty Seguros, Discovery Channel, Unibet.com…) – mainly due to high profile doping scandals and political in-fighting – the sport has looked to be in trouble of attracting outside money.
In 2006, Ivan Basso was ejected from Team CSC after being embroiled in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal and did not ride the Tour de France that year despite being tipped for the win.
Riis himself was also the centre of controversy in May last year when he admitted to using EPO between 1993 and 1998, including prior to winning the Tour de France in 1996. He was subsequently stripped of his Tour title by race organisers ASO.
Since the doping revelations, Team CSC has spent a lot of time and money in setting up a strict anti-doping programme for all its riders, including constant monitoring and out-of-competition testing in an effort to clean up the squad’s image.