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Scicon questions Astana Qazaqstan's ethics as sponsor walks out over Mark Cavendish Oakley dispute

"It is unfortunate that individual riders can compromise sponsorship agreements"...

Scicon Sports' CEO has ripped into Astana Qazaqstan, saying it is "unfortunate that a team would not stand up for what is ethically the right thing to do" after Mark Cavendish continued to use Oakley glasses instead of the team's eyewear sponsor's products.

As we reported on Monday's live blog, Scicon has parted ways with Astana over the dispute, the Italian brand this morning confirming the news in a statement and saying it is "unfortunate that individual riders can compromise sponsorship agreements in this way".

Scicon had sponsored the WorldTour outfit for the past two years and expected the team's riders to use its eyewear, luggage and bike bags, something Cavendish had not been doing, instead continuing to sport glasses from his personal sponsor Oakley.

2023 Mark Cavendish (ASO/Oman Cycling Association/Pauline Ballet)

Heinrich Dannhauser, Scicon's CEO, questioned Astana's ethics for not doing "the right thing" and argued they had not honoured their agreement, something the team disputes.

"It is unfortunate that individual riders can compromise sponsorship agreements in this way," he said in a statement released by Scicon. "It is even more unfortunate that a team would not stand up for what is ethically the right thing to do — honouring the agreement and recognising the significant investments that were made.

"We took a strong stance in this case and could not make an exception for one rider and believe all sponsors of professional cycling should take note."

> Check out Mark Cavendish's new Wilier Filante… and his mysterious Nike shoes

Scicon has withdrawn its sponsorship with immediate effect and said the parting of ways is in its best interest.

"Our brand has grown significantly over the last three seasons," Dannhauser continued. "Many of the world's best riders use Scicon eyewear. This unfortunate situation will not deter us at a time when there are very exciting developments in our business and so much to look forward to."

Commenting on the situation to Cyclingnews, Astana team boss Alexander Vinokourov downplayed the accusation of contractual violation and said compensation had already been paid to Scicon.

2023 Mark Cavendish (ASO/Oman Cycling Association/Pauline Ballet)

"The team declares with full responsibility that there were no violations of our contractual obligations [in] respect to Scicon and we fully respected this agreement until the moment it has been terminated," he said.

"At a certain point, we did not find common ground with the company and, as a result, the team decided to exercise its right, prescribed in the contract, to terminate the agreement with Scicon with the payment of appropriate monetary compensation.

"Astana Qazaqstan Team has always 100 per cent fulfilled and fulfils all its sponsorship obligations and will adhere to this policy in the future."

Dan joined in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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