Danish financial institution Saxo Bank is to continue its sponsorship of Bjarne Riis’s team, with its star rider Alberto Contador also pledging his future to the WorldTour outfit for a further two years.
The announcement ends uncertainty about the team’s future after Russian entrepreneur Oleg Tinkoff revealed he would not be renewing sponsorship at the end of the season.
Tinkoff, who hopes to bank up to $750 million from the planned flotation of his credit card business, is now being linked with becoming a backer of the Cannondale team.
News that Saxo Bank, which has sponsored the team since 2008, is stepping in to fill part of the hole in the team’s budget was revealed at a press conference today. Other sponsors are still being sought.
Riis said: "For Saxo Bank to stay with us and at the same time step up its commitment to Riis Cycling makes me both proud and grateful.
“It shows that Saxo Bank not only continues to see the commercial benefit in sponsoring our team, but also shows strong faith in our work.
“This is certainly evidence of a great long term partnership, and it gives us the space to continue with our team at a high level while we continue to develop our portfolio of partners for next year and after.
“We are still in the market looking for additional sponsorship to fulfill our ambitions for the coming years. Building new partnerships takes time, but I do feel we are moving this forward in a very constructive way."
Saxo Bank’s co-founders and joint CEOs, Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen, commented: “In the financial industry, cycling is now more popular than golf.
“Hedge fund managers, brokers, liquidity providers and traders have taken cycling to a completely new level in recent years.
“The strategic fit between Saxo Bank and this team has always been a major but even more so today.
“Not only do we have commercial reasons to sponsor this team but our work within the financial markets is driven by passion, determination and teamwork, which also lie at the heart of Bjarne Riis's team and its riders.
“They know that only through strong focus, hard work and innate passion will you be victorious."
That vision hasn’t fully translated into what has been a largely disappointing performance this season, however, with Contador, who returned from a doping ban last August and going on to win the Vuelta the following month experiencing a lackluster 2013.
There were some high points, though; Roman Kreuziguer won the Amstel Gold Race, while Vuelta stage wins went to Michael Mørkøv and Nicolas Roche, the latter also spending a day in the race lead as well as leading the mountains, points and combination classifications at various times during the race.
According to Danish media, Contador has accepted a pay cut of between 10 and 15 per cent to remain with the team.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.