By Nigel Wynn
Online investment and trading specialist Saxo Bank has 'stepped up' its commitment to Bjarne Riis's cycling team for 2014, filling the financial void left by the departing Tinkoff Bank, which will not renew its sponsorship at the end of the season.
Saxo Bank has agreed to fund the Danish WorldTour-level squad throughout the 2014 season to allow Riis time to find a secondary sponsor. It will be the sixth year that the financial company has been involved with the team.
"For Saxo Bank to stay with us and at the same time step up its commitment to Riis Cycling makes me both proud and grateful," said Riis.
"It shows that Saxo Bank not only continues to see the commercial benefit in sponsoring our team, but also shows strong faith in our work."
"We are still in the market looking for additional sponsorship to fulfill our ambitions for the coming years. Building new partnerships takes time, but I do feel we are moving this forward in a very constructive way."
Negotiations between Riis and Tinkoff Bank owner Oleg Tinkov broke down after the two parties could not agree on the direction of the team. Tinkov had publically aired his dissatisfaction of the team, and in particular Alberto Contador's, performance at the 2013 Tour de France.
"His salary doesn't match his performance. Too rich and isn't hungry, that's my opinion, and I deserve it. He must work harder," stated Tinkov via Twitter.
Contador himself has said that he's staying with the team for the next two seasons, despite close links with a new cycling team being formed by his friend, Formula One star Fernando Alonso.
Saxo-Tinkoff has had a relatively quiet season with only seven victories including Roman Kreuziger's win in the Amstel Gold Race, and Nicolas Roche and Michael Morkov's Vuelta a Espana stage wins, but are currently fifth in UCI WorldTour team ranking.
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