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Bjarne Riis has his say at a meeting of team bosses
Questions of Contador's future making search more difficult
Bjarne Riis is currently searching for a new sponsor for his Saxo Bank SunGard ProTeam, but the presence of Alberto Contador on the squad and the possibility of a doping suspension for the Spaniard are contributing to the difficulty of landing a backer for the coming season.
Saxo Bank has sponsored Riis' team since 2008. It announced last year that it would end its sponsorship at the end of 2010, but renewed for a year when Contador signed with the team. Riis must now seek a new title sponsor, no easy task in light of Contador's problems.
At the age of 28, Contador has already won six Grand Tours, including last month's Giro d'Italia. However, he faces a possible doping suspension from a positive Clenbuterol control at last year's Tour de France. The Spanish federation dismissed the charges, but the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which will not hear the case until August.
"It does not make it easier to negotiate when a potential sponsor does not know the 'total package' he buys because the Contador case is pending," Riis told sporten.dk.
"We have been in dialogue with partners, for whom it is imperative to know how it ends with Alberto Contador. Others don't see it as the big problem. But whatever, it's something you can negotiate."
Riis had hoped to have the Contador matter cleared up in the summer, but the court dates have been delayed. Still, he hoped that "we can already publish something during the Tour de France."
Co-sponsor SunGard is apparently firm for the coming year, but more is needed.
"There must be money to run a team at this level and our aim is that our budget for 2012 will remain unchanged."