Tour de France crucial for cycling's sponsors

Teams bring on new partners, get extra attention for existing ones

In a sport funded by sponsors, the biggest event of the year is an important opportunity to get the maximum impact out of any parternship. At the Tour de France, the increased attention of the world press makes it a prime opportunity to announce new sponsors or promote the business of existing ones.

Following on the example of Teams Saxo Bank, Garmin and HTC-Columbia, all of whom announced new sponsors prior to the Tour in recent years, Lampre-Farnese Vini announced its partnership with AMPO - a Basque concern in the oil and gas industry. They will boast the new logo on the team's cars and buses, but did not bring new team clothing bearing the AMPO name to the race.

The Cervélo TestTeam gained DSM, a Dutch life and materials sciences company, which signed with the team through 2012.

Along with newly signed partner Skype, the HTC-Columbia team will also work with internet megalith Google and SRM to allow real-time transmission of the team's speed, heart rate, power output viewed with Google's applications Google Maps, Street View, Google Earth, Android, and My Tracks.

Perhaps the most outrageous publicity stunt comes from the Belgian Quick Step team, which announced that sponsor Latexco, a mattress maker, would follow the team around the entirety of France providing each rider with his own Innergetic mattress and pillow.

If the logistics of such a venture boggle the mind, Quick Step reassured, stating, "The French firm Literie Benoist will support the initiative. Together with Quick.Step, they will ensure that nine mattresses will follow the 20 stages of the Tour from 3 to 25 July next, thus demonstrating that a good night's rest can add to the success of a sports team."

The press release boasts that the mattress cover "helps increase the oxygen content in the blood by more than 8% in less than an hour. In this way, the body temperature is better regulated, blood circulation improves and muscle pain is quickly relieved. Which improves the odds of getting a good night’s rest – and winning the race."

To be fair, the Rabobank company will also take part, with Dutch mattress manufacturer Maxtras taking care of setting up the Innergetic beds for its riders.

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