Bjarne Riis confirms SunGard to replace Saxo Bank as team sponsor
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Bjarne Riis confirms SunGard to replace Saxo Bank as team sponsor

by Ben Atkins at 9:56 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Danish team secure for another two years but may still lose the Schlecks

bjarne riisTeam Saxo Bank owner Bjarne Riis confirmed that his team’s future is assured for another two years in a Tour de France press conference, according to feltet.dk. The team will have two new sponsors, says Riis, one of which he confirmed as US software giant SunGard, the other will be revealed at a later date.

“The next two years are guaranteed for this team,” said the 2006 Tour winner, “We are so happy that we started working with SunGard last year, and they have been so excited that they have chosen to take a step up.

The software company has been a minor co-sponsor of the team since the beginning of the year and it has long been speculated that it would be the company to step up and replace Saxo Bank. Neither Riis Cycling, the team’s parent company, nor SunGard was willing to confirm the rumours, until now.

“We have made a new agreement with an as yet unnamed sponsor, which will be published at a later date,” he added.

“They don not want to be published because of their business strategy,” said Riis. “I know that it will spark some speculation, but the new sponsor will not be published during the Tour de France, but at a later date.”

With Sungard and the second, unnamed, sponsor on board, Riis will likely be able to afford to keep hold of the team’s two biggest assets: the Luxembourg brothers, Fränk and Andy Schleck. “We will continue at the same level,” said Riis, “We will still aim to be the World’s best cycling team.”

Both Schlecks have been linked to a likely move to a new team rumoured to be being created by former Saxo Bank director Kim Anderson and Brian Nygaard. It is also highly unlikely that Riis would be able to hold onto one while the other left, as they have always maintained that they would never race against one another.

When asked if the secure future of Riis’ team affected his plans for next year, Andy Schleck, who won yesterday’s stage to Morzine-Avoriaz and sits in second overall, refused to be drawn. “Now we will get the Tour out of the way, then we will talk about it later in the year,” he said.

One rider who will almost definitely be staying at Riis’ team next year though will be World time trial champion Fabian Cancellara. “Spartacus" is known to be a target of the BMC Racing Team, whose owner Andy Rihs has expressed a desire to have the Swiss rider riding on his Swiss bike brand. Cancellara is contracted to Riis’ team through 2011 though, and so BMC will likely have to wait at least another year.

The confirmation the new sponsor will also help Riis to hold on to his other riders. Up-and-coming Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang, the last teammate to stay with Schleck on the final climb yesterday, was reluctant to sign his new contract this year because of uncertainty over the team’s future. This news will help him and the team’s other riders to make up their minds.

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