Australia's Tour Down Under has announced the signing of Škoda Auto as the event's major sponsor for the next three years. The announcement of the Volkswagen-owned Czech Republic car manufacturer as title sponsor is the first in a string of commercial announcements anticipated over the coming months.
"Škoda is a big supporter of cycling in Europe, currently sponsoring nine ProTour teams, major events such as the Tour de France and is the official car of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)," said South Australian Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith. "The major sponsorship brings direct investment, a strong marketing leverage program and international relationships."
Škoda's title sponsorship of the Tour Down Under will be a brand awareness initiative, with the company formally entering the Australian market later this year. While there's currently a select number of Škodas available in Australia the manufacturer has never before formally entered the market, but plans to launch 14 dealerships nationwide following the anticipated unveiling of its Roomster and Octavia models at October's Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.
"Whilst over time we made the transition to cars, the romance of cycling has remained strong and continued," said head of Škoda Australia Matthew Wiesner. "We are looking forward to being part of the Tour Down Under. Our association should help strengthen the event's standing internationally and in turn showcase our cars to an Australian audience."
Škoda was founded in the late 1800s as a bicycle manufacturer by 26 year-old bookseller Václav Klement before moving into motorcycle production in the final years of that century and then car production in 1905.
The announcement comes just before UCI's decision over the Tour Down Under's bid to become part of the ProTour calendar, with the UCI ProTour Council expected to make its decision in September.
A Škoda Roomster was unveiled from a plywood shipping box addressed to the Tour Down Under from 'Oppy', the event's kangaroo mascot which recently did a promotional tour at the Tour de France, at this morning's Rundle Mall announcement in Adelaide, South Australia.
For more information on the January 20 - 27 event, visit www.tourdownunder.com.au.