Peiper hopes US team will find new sponsor
HTC-Highroad directeur sportif Allan Peiper has played down reports that Mark Cavendish is set to quit the team and join Team Sky for 2012.
The Daily Mail newspaper and De Telegraaf in the Netherlands both reported that Cavendish has agreed to join Team Sky in 2012 after he was not offered a new contract by HTC-Highroad. Cavendish is reportedly set to earn £1.5 million a season with Team Sky, almost double what he earns under his current contract.
Peiper is currently at the Tour de Suisse with Cavendish. The Manxman refused to talk to the AFP news agency but Peiper dismissed the reports of him having reached an agreement with Team Sky.
"There's nothing we can say, it's hearsay at the moment," AFP reported Peiper as saying. "As far as I know it's just a rumour, but these rumours emerged at the Tour de France last year. I don't know any more than that.
"The UCI negotiating time is from the August 1, I think everybody respects that. Mark has been with us five years and we'll give ourselves the opportunity to see about his future."
Under International Cycling Union (UCI) rules, riders are allowed to hold talks with teams throughout the year but contracts cannot be signed or new signings announced until August 1.
HTC’s sponsorship of the US-registered team ends this year and the electronics giant has so far not confirmed that it wishes to extend its support. HTC-Highroad uses Specialized bikes but is without a major second sponsor and is rumoured to be considering a link up with UnitedHealthcare that sponsors the Professional Continental team in the USA.
Several other riders are also rumoured to be leaving the team but the likes of John Degenkolb and Tony Martin confirmed their ability with stage victories at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.
Peiper said he is confident that team manager Bob Stapleton can find another sponsor for the team.
"Presently we're working on sponsorship for next year, just as are many other teams," Peiper said.
"Bob's had the ability in the last years to bring the sponsors on board and we're confident he'll be able to do that again. There are many other teams in the same position. I think we've got a good chance to move forward as we have in the last years."
In the past Stapleton brought new sponsors on board before the start of the Tour de France. The Columbia clothing company sponsored the team from June 2008 and HTC took over as first sponsor before the 2009 Tour de France.
There is so far no indication that a new sponsor has been found to replace HTC.
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