Astana Qazaqstan acquiring the services of Mark Cavendish has led to the team losing a sponsor. Eyewear supplier Scicon pulled out of their agreement after Cavendish brought Oakley with him as a personal sponsor.
According to a report from Cycling Weekly sister publication Cyclingnews, the sponsor conflict led to tensions during Cavendish’s contract negotiations with the Kazakh team, and now to the termination of Scicon’s contract with the Alexander Vinokourov-managed squad.
As a result of the issue, Cavendish is no longer the only Astana rider wearing Oakleys this season, with various other riders swapping away from their previous eyewear provider. Astana told Cyclingnews that Scicon is no longer a partner, and that they are working on bringing a new sponsor to the team.
It’s understood that Scicon is preparing a legal challenge over the team's breach of contract and is set to pursue damages.
Cavendish has a long-term relationship with Oakley, and declined to give up his relationship with the sunglasses manufacturer as part of his move to his new team late last year. In initial photos of the Manxman on his bike issued by Astana, he was notably not wearing any sunglasses whatsoever. Cavendish then wore a pair of gold Oakley Katos in his first race for Astana, the Muscat classic earlier this year.
Aleksey Lutsenko was the first of ten other Astana riders to then be pictured in Oakleys at races such as the UAE Tour, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.
Other Astana riders such as Fabio Felline, Cees Bol, Joe Dombrowski and Yevgeniy Fedorov have opted to remain with Scicon for now. The team are believed to be working hard to source a new eyewear provider, but what is clear is that it will need to be a sponsor happy to see Cavendish opt for a rival brand.
Cavendish’s partnership with Oakley has previously caused issues during his career.
When he rode for Bahrain McLaren in 2020, issues arose, although the team’s partnership with Rudy Project continued throughout that season. Riders having personal sponsors isn’t uncommon in cycling, and is also something seen in other sports.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1