California-based Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) has announced its intention to end its sponsorship of Bjarne Riis' ProTour team, Team CSC, once its contract expires at the end of 2008. The company cited "a shift in priorities" in its business' growth strategy as its reason for ending the eight year partnership with the squad.
"Our involvement in the sport of cycling has been a positive and productive experience," said Henrik Bo Pedersen, the CSC executive responsible for overseeing the sponsorship. "We will continue to support the team and exercise our sponsorship rights during the 2008 race season. At the same time, we are committed to helping the team secure a new title sponsor.
Riis was appreciative of the support the software company had given the team over the years. "We've had a long and excellent collaboration with CSC and when it comes to an end after this season we can look back upon eight years that have been very fruitful for both partners," Riis said. "CSC has made it possible for us to reach the highest heights in professional cycling and at the same time we have inspired their 91,000 employees and helped them to develop their client relationships in a very unique way. We're very proud of all we've done together in the past and look forward to sharing a lot of great experiences with CSC this season."
From Fabian Cancellara's 2007 Tour de France prologue and stage two victories and back-to-back world time trial championships, Team CSC's world number one ranking the past few years has certainly returned dividends for CSC. Cancellara and team-mate Stuart O'Grady also won Paris-Roubaix back-to-back in 2006 and '07.
"Our company and employees have enjoyed our relationship with the riders, staff and management of Team CSC," Pedersen added. "We especially wish to thank each member of Riis Cycling for their dedication and commitment to making professional cycling a healthy and safe sport."
Riis made a revelation before the 2007 Tour when he admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs to win the 1996 Tour. CSC officials supported Riis's confession and current efforts to maintain a doping-free program with Team CSC.
"This marks the beginning of something new for us and I know that we are ready to go out and show the world that we are here to stay," Riis said about CSC's announcement to end its sponsorship of his racing team. "We have an exceptional product with worldwide exposure that we can offer to a new sponsor. We believe we have the best team in the world, both the riders on their bikes and the staff supporting them behind the scenes.
"Over the years, this exceptional group of people have proven that they know how to deliver value to their sponsors. I'm optimistic about the future, even though cycling has its challenges. We have a team that is a ready to lead the way and an organisation that is up for the task at hand," Riis added.