The start of the Tour de France has marked the beginning of a series of reports, rumours and denials in relation to team sponsorships but one confirmation is that Garmin-Sharp will change title in 2015.
Speaking at the end of stage 3 of the Tour, team manager Jonathan Vaughters, told Cyclingnews that, “Garmin has a contract with the team next year but not as a title sponsor. The team name will definitely change next year, yes.”
Garmin began sponsoring the Slipstream set-up in 2008 and has backed the team as the title sponsor ever since. As a squad they have won the Giro d’Italia, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and several other high profile races. During their sponsorship they have also sat alongside co-sponsors including Transition and Cervelo.
A change for 2015 could see Sharp become the team’s lead sponsor, however Vaughters would not be drawn on that, or whether another main sponsor would come onboard.
Asked if Sharp would be the team’s lead sponsor next year Vaughters said “that remains to be seen. We have a financial situation where we have a lead partner but we’re not talking about it until the Tour de France is over.”
Asked if the team had a sponsor to sit alongside Sharp, Vaughters replied, “We aren’t going to discuss that until after the Tour de France.”
The American team, who are at the Tour de France with Dauphine winner Andrew Talansky in their ranks, have yet to confirm their bike sponsor for next year. They currently have a deal with Canadian firm Cervelo, a partnership that formed at the end of 2010 and began on the road in 2011.
“There’s no contract for Cervelo next year. There is one until the end of this year though," said Vaughters.
With bike brands becoming team owners and title sponsors in recent years the importance of bike brands has increased significantly. Several major brands want to supply bikes or sponsor a major WorldTour team to promote their products. Once, just supplying equipment and product was enough to secure a sponsorship deal. Now teams can demand at least 1.5million Euro for their bike sponsorship.
L'Equipe reported on Saturday that Tinkoff-Saxo could ride Cannondale bikes in 2015 after signing Peter Sagan to strengthen its Classics squad. However this appears unlikely because the team has a contract with Specialized for 2015.
It seems possible that Cannondale has talked to the Tinkoff-Saxo team but team owner Oleg Tinkov indicated that those talks may have broken down. He suggested on Twitter that Garmin-Sharp may have reached a deal with Cannondale. He wrote: "@Vaughters good deal with @cannondalePro. I am very much support it! #changecycling"
However he quickly deleted the tweet.
Vaughters refused to comment on Tinkov's suggestion.
"I don’t comment on sponsor stuff until it's done and finished, sorry. It's a no comment," he told Cyclingnews.
Christophe Dehaemers of Cannondale told Cyclingnews they were considering their options and are talking to several teams for 2015 but that they intend to remain in the WorldTour peloton.