Mark Cavendish's Astana team refutes claim it breached sunglasses contract

Team says it "fully respected" its sponsorship deal with sunglasses supplier Scicon

Mark Cavendish
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Astana Qazaqstan have insisted they made “no violations” of their contractual obligations after terminating their deal with eyewear supplier Scicon

The sponsorship deal, which began at the start of 2022, is said to have broken down after the team signed Mark Cavendish, who brought personal sunglasses partner Oakley with him. 

The Kazakh team and Scicon have since parted ways, with Cyclingnews reporting that the Italian company is preparing to pursue damages for breach of contract. 

In a statement shared with Cycling Weekly’s sister publication, Astana Qazaqstan team boss Alexandr Vinokourov said: “The team declares with full responsibility that there were no violations of our contractual obligations respect to Scicon and we fully respected this agreement until the moment it has been terminated. 

“At a certain point, we did not find common ground with the company and, as a result, the team decided to exercise its right, prescribed in the contract, to terminate the agreement with Scicon with the payment of appropriate monetary compensation."

Vinokourov went on to outline that the team has “100% fulfilled and fulfils all its sponsorship obligations” and will continue to do so in the future. 

Astana Qazaqstan are now understood to be searching for a new eyewear sponsor, with the team’s riders currently free to wear their sunglasses of choice. 

It was revealed after Cavendish’s signing in January 2023 that the rider’s sunglasses sponsor clash had been an obstacle in contract negotiations. 

In a statement shared with Cyclingnews, Scicon CEO Heinrich Dannhauser questioned the ethics of Astana Qazaqstan’s handling of the situation.

“It is unfortunate that individual riders can compromise sponsorship agreements in this way,” Dannhauser said. “It is even more unfortunate that a team would not stand up for what is ethically the right thing do to - honoring the agreement and recognizing the significant investments that were made by Scicon.

“We took a strong stance in this case and could not make an exception for one rider and believe all sponsors of professional cycling should take note.” 

Personal sponsorship deals are not unusual in cycling, with Cavendish also opting for his own shoe partner in Nike this season. During his year at Bahrain Victorious in 2020, the Manxman was the sole wearer of Oakley sunglasses on the team, with other squad members wearing the team sponsor brand Rudy Project. 

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