Bjarne Riis announced during the Tour de France rest day on Monday in Morzine that he has secured a replacement sponsor for his Saxo Bank team.
“I met with our staff and riders,” said Riis, ” and told them the future of this team is secured for the next two years.”
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Riis added that he will wait to announce the sponsor’s name after the Tour as per the sponsor’s request. The new sponsor will be the title sponsor and current secondary sponsor SunGard will step up as co-sponsor.
The timing of Riis’ announcement is critical as cyclists typically use the Tour de France to start looking for new teams. Riis’ key riders, though, have their contracts up for renewal and may switch teams regardless of today’s announcement.
“I am not here to talk now about what is going to happen after the Tour de France,” said Andy Schleck, who is second overall at as of today’s rest day.
“I am really happy in this team and happy for [the announcement of] Bjarne. I think if this team could not find a sponsor, it would be pretty bad for cycling.”
Schleck and his brother Fränk are rumoured to be joining a new team to be based in their home country of Luxembourg.
Team Sky’s and Riis’ former press officer, Bryan Nygaard said that he is creating a team for next year. As his head sports director, Nygaard hired Kim Anderson, who abruptly left Saxo Bank in June after six years.
Andy Schleck is concentrating on tomorrow’s Alpine stage to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and making up the 20-second defect to race leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing). He aims to better his second overall from last year by winning the race in two weeks’ time in Paris.
He said before the race, though, that his agent Giovanni Lombardi is in discussions with four different teams: Riis’, Nygaard’s and two un-named teams.
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