Ignacio Ayuso, president of Vuelta a España organiser Unipublic, has revealed to Spanish newspaper AS that an earlier main sponsorship deal this year was cancelled after Floyd Landis tested positive for a too high testosterone ratio in his blood. Meanwhile, the race found a new main sponsor, but "Expo Zaragoza 2008" stepped in on emergency just three days prior to the event.
"In July, we had it all signed," he said. "We had this main sponsor, a big business, as well as Ford coming on board and the continuous backing of Ifema and From. But the Landis case made the sponsor doubtful and he preferred to back out." Whilst Ayuso, who did not want to reveal the identity of the company ("We are confident that this possible sponsor, like others who had doubts, might be able to be signed in the future"), added that the Vuelta organiser agreed to drop the already-signed deal after the doping accusations against the Tour de France winner were made public. "We had an agreement for one year and the possibility of renewal for the next. But we understood the position [of the sponsor] and released them from their engagement."
Finding a new backer just weeks before the event was not an easy task according to Ayuso. "When the Landis case came out we were in the middle of our holidays," he continued. "It wasn't easy to start new negotiations. With Expo Zaragoza, we already had a basic agreement for them to become sponsors of the Gran Premio classification in 2007 and 2008. We then reached an extended agreement for them to patronize the jersey this year."
The Gran Premio classification, meanwhile, will not be promoted on the podium or the finish line this year, but Unipublic's finances are not reported to be suffering. "The Vuelta will not lose money [over this]. Despite all the problems we had to deal with we have no deficit - we won't obtain the profits we calculated, but we won't be in the red either," Ayuso explained.