Banking giants Saxo Bank will assume full sponsorship of Bjarne Riis’ cycling team as the search for a replacement for former co-sponsor Tinkoff continues.
Businessman, Oleg Tinkoff, was disappointed with the team’s poor showing in the Tour de France, where despite topping the team classification, the Danish squad were unable to deliver leader Alberto Contador to the podium.
Riis, winner of the 1997 Tour de France, who later confessed to doping to win the event, but who has not been stripped of the title, said announced Saxo Bank’s increased backing at a press conference in Madrid attended by Contador.
“There have been lots of rumours and speculation about our team,” he told reporters. “I am very happy I can step up and front this speculation.
“I am proud to let you know that the team will continue and we will have a team for next year, which will be as strong as it has been this year.
“This is of course fantastic for us, our riders and staff. We are all extremely grateful to Saxo Bank and, of course, for the commitment.”
The Danish team will return to being known as Team Saxo Bank, as it was until June 2012 after the investment of Tinkoff Bank.
Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen expects a new investor to be found soon but claimed the popularity of cycling made it an easy decision to provide sole backing in the interim.
“We believe it’s a good deal,” he explained. “For sponsors, cycling beats every other sporting event by a considerable margin.
“Cycling is becoming more and more popular. It’s like a new golf in financial circles today. That’s what makes the decision to step up fairly easy.”
Contador reiterated his commitment to the team despite rumours he would leave in the winter.
“I am already thinking about 2014,” he said. “There will be some changes that we have to make, especially in the way we are working. We haven’t won as we wanted this year.
“But 2014 is a year that I hope will be good for us.”
He did however admit the news compatriot Fernando Alonso is investing in cycling – after the Formula One driver bought Euskaltel-Euskadi’s license – was good for the sport.
“It is an excellent piece of news, especially for people who love cycling,” he added. “But there is not a team where I could be better than at Saxo Bank.
“It could be something that would be nice in future, but for now, and for the next two years, I am committed to Saxo Bank.”