Caisse d’Epargne team searching for new sponsor
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Caisse d’Epargne team searching for new sponsor

by Conal Andrews at 7:00 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

The Caisse d’Epargne team joins a list of ProTour squads looking for a new sponsor, following official confirmation that the main backer, a French bank, will not renew the contract which is due to end this season.

According to Pérol Francis, Chief Executive of Banque Populaire Group Caisse d'Epargne, the company’s sporting emphasis will shift to backing Olympic competition, beginning with the Vancouver Winter Olympics on February 12th.

"There will be a team Caisse d'Epargne in the 2010 Tour de France, but it is a contract that ends in 2010,” said Francis on Radio Classic. “It will not be renewed. We have become the (...) French banking partner of the Olympics, so we will accompany the French team in Vancouver, to London in 2012, and will support the candidacy of Annecy Olympic Winter 2018.

“It is a management decision for the company, and because the Olympic values seem to correspond to the values of BPCE.”

There is no indication if the latter quote is a veiled reference to the troubles team leader Alejandro Valverde is currently facing. He is facing two appeals before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, both related to allegations that he was involved in the Operación Puerto scandal.

Even if Valverde wins out, the team sponsors would be aware that a cloud has been hanging over the rider for several years. He was blocked from riding last year’s Tour de France, both because he is banned from racing in Italy and also because Tour organisers ASO said that he was not welcome at the race.

The team was in negotiations with Tour de France champion Alberto Contador towards the end of last season, but the Spaniard ultimately had to stay with his Astana team.

There is a chance that he could ride for the squad in 2011, but that would both depend on other offers made to him and also the team securing a new backer.

Team officials are searching for a replacement, and wish to remain in the sport. The setup began back in 1980 with the Reynolds team, then was backed by Banesto (1990 – 2000), iBanesto.com (2001-2003) and Illes Balears Banesto (2004 – 2005).

Caisse d’Epargne came in as a co-sponsor in the latter season, and has since assumed the main backing role.

Other big-name squads currently searching for new sponsorship include Saxo Bank and Milram, while several French squads are also thought to be in the same boat.

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