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Lars Ytting Bak (Team Saxo Bank) celebrates his stage win on the podium.
Bank pulling out after 2010 season
Team Saxo Bank is the next team in search of a new title sponsor. The bank will stop its sponsorship of the Danish team the end of 2010, when the current contract expires.
In a press release issued Friday, the team announced the end of the relationship. “We have enjoyed a fantastic partnership with Saxo Bank and I know that at the end this season, we can all look back on two and a half years of outstanding results and a lot of shared success,” team principal Bjarne Riis said
“We will continue to work together with Saxo Bank to activate the sponsorship throughout this year and we have high expectations for the 2010 season.”
The search for a new title sponsor has already begun, Riis said. “We have one of the strongest teams in the world that includes some of our sport’s biggest profiles. The experiences and challenges of the last two years have prepared our company for this challenge. We are better organized and positioned to handle this challenge now, than ever before.“
The Danish bank took over sponsorship the summer of 2008, and was co-sponsor along with CSC for the remainder of that season. It took over as sole title sponsor as of the 2009 season.
Saxo Bank has never announced the amount of its sponsorship, but the team's success has helped increase its global brand awareness. It was immediately boosted by Carlos Sastre's victory in the 2008 Tour de France, and the performance of the Schleck brothers in 2009. In last year's Tour, Andy Schleck finished second overall and Fränk Schleck was fifth.
When the bank signed the sponsorship agreement with Riis Cycling in 2008, it noted that the team “has the international reach and name recognition that means we will be able to get our message our to most of our client groups around the globe. We love the sport, and believe that together we will be winners.”
The bank now says it had been a good ride, but that the tour was over. “We recognise that the sponsorship has given us a great branding opportunity and increased our name recognition around the world. However, we also have to acknowledge that the sponsorship has not been ideal in reaching our narrow target group,” according to a statement by bank co-CEOs and co-founders Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen.
“We have to take this seriously and after 2010 we will use our marketing funds differently. It is our belief that a sponsor with a broader profile will achieve much more from sponsoring the cycling team.”
They said that they look forward to celebrating many new victories in 2010. ”Saxo Bank’s sponsorship runs another year and we are already looking forward to the season to come. It goes without saying that we will support Team Saxo Bank and exploit the sponsorship to the full throughout the next year. As a company we still love cycling and we couldn't have hoped for a better collaboration with the team.”
But the team has had financial difficulties since 2008. IT Factory was announced as a co-sponsor, but had to back out of the deal when it went into receivership. Since then, the team has continued to search for a new co-backer.
Last month, team manager Bjarne Riis admitted that financial considerations forced him to have a smaller team with a reduced race schedule for the year.