The sponsorship contract of French Pro Tour team Cofidis has been extended until the end of 2010, it was reported on Thursday morning. The news represents a back-flip by the French financial services group, who had earlier told team management that support for the squad would cease at the end of the current season and that they should begin the search for new sponsors.
Instead, Cofidis have agreed to extend the team’s current one-year contract until at least the end of next season. The news of the contract extension has come as welcome relief to team manager, Eric Boyer, ahead of next month’s Tour de France.
"That's very good news indeed for our squad," Boyer told Cyclingnews on Thursday, confirming the news. "We didn't know whether Cofidis was going to extend the present contract or not, so we eagerly waited for their decision, which came last night. Had they bailed out, it might have condemned our team to cease, as it's very difficult these days to find a new sponsor. But fortunately Cofidis decided to continue its sponsorship - surely also because they are happy with our work, which will hopefully bear fruit soon!"
The team manager pointed to last year's Tour de France victory by Sylvain Chavanel. Still, Cofidis have endured a wave of bad luck and publicity in recent seasons. The departure of key riders has been compounded by several high profile doping scandals culminating in the expulsion of the squad from the 2007 Tour de France in the wake of Christian Moreni’s positive test for testosterone.
The one-year deal extends Cofidis’ long held association with professional cycling, which began in 1997 when the team was formed by then team director, Cyrille Guimard.