Richard Virenque signs for.... Festina
Ex-cyclist to star in adverts for sponsor of team he rode for at time of ill-fated 1998 Tour
Richard Virenque is teaming up again with Festina, the watch company whose logo he wore on his jersey for five years up to 1998, when he and his team became engulfed in the doping scandal that overshadowed that year's Tour de France.
The 43-year-old, who won the mountains jersey in the Tour a record seven times, won't be racing again, though - rather, the new deal will see him take part in an advertising campaign for the brand, which remains involved with the race as the official timekeeper.
Acccroding to l'Avenir, news of the association has raised some eyebrows in France, but Virenque, who also retains links with the Tour, working as a cycling pundit for Eurosport, said that the deal had its roots in his friendship with Festina boss Miguel Rodriguez, which goes back to their very first meeting.
"Our mutual trust means we can now consider a number of projects, such as this forthcoming international advertising campaign," he said, pointing out that "Festina has remained faithful to the sport of cycling through. among other things, its partnership for timekeeping in the Tour de France for more than 20 years."