Liquigas-Cannondale: No comment on Saxo merger rumours
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Liquigas-Cannondale: No comment on Saxo merger rumours

by Shane Stokes at 1:54 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Team continues to look for new backer for 2013

Liquigas CannondaleFollowing suggestions by Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport that the Liquigas-Cannondale and Saxo Bank teams may be considering a merger for 2013, the press officer of the Italian outfit has declined to speak about the matter.

“There are no comments on this from the team at the moment. It is a rumour from La Gazzetta. We have nothing to say about this now,” Paolo Barbieri told VeloNation today. “I can confirm only what is written about the sponsorship itself, that the team is are looking for a new sponsor, but the news about a merger with Saxo Bank is only rumours now.

“What I can confirm about that story is one point: that Liquigas is likely to stop, and so we are continuing in our search for a new sponsor.”

Liquigas has been a long-term sponsor of the squad but earlier this year indicated that it wouldn’t continue as a backer in 2013. Barbieri confirmed that the team is yet to open talks with a replacement. “There is nothing yet, but I think we will see a team for the new season,” he said. “The team will continue, but at the moment we are not able to communicate anything from the management about the sponsor or anything else.”

The La Gazzetta story suggested that Alberto Contador could be part of a Saxo Bank merger, the Spaniard racing with Ivan Basso as joint leaders of the squad. If that were to indeed happen, the scenario would presumably see Basso target the Giro d’Italia and Contador the Tour de France.

Contador has had a long-running personal sponsorship deal with Specialized bicycles. It began in 2009 and was due to run until the end of the current season; it remains to be seen if it will be extended. If so, any team he races for would need to also use the same bicycles.

However Barbieri said that the current team setup would look to continue using its current machines. “We are working to continue with Cannondale,” he confirmed. “It is an open issue, it is a bit early to comment. But it is 90 percent that if the team continues, that it would be with Cannondale.

“As we understand, they are satisfied with the sponsorship and the results we had in California and elsewhere. So we will continue to speak to them about the future. We will decide during the next month what is likely to happen.”

In recent days Contador has also been rumoured to be part of a new Spanish setup, backed by Banco Santander, as well as returning to Astana, and moving to RadioShack; clearly all are not possible. As was the case in the past, many rumours crop up around this time of the season and provide for many permutations.

Whether or not there is any truth to the Liquigas-Cannondale/Saxo Bank story remains to be seen, but for now the team won’t comment either way.


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