RadioShack will end its sponsorship of the RadioShack-Leopard team at the end of the current season, according to a report in French newspaper L'Equipe. The US electronics retailer is reportedly blaiming financial losses, a change of sponsorship focus, and the recent doping revelations within the sport for its decision.
The Luxembourg-based team has been hit by a number of problems this season, both on and off the road. Nissan withdrew as a title sponsor for the team for this season, citing both the doping problems and the team's lack of success, although it continued its financial obligation.
RadioShack suffered significant final losses in 2012, with a reported loss of $63 million in the fourth quarter, giving it a loss for every quarter of the year. In addition, the firm is said to be turning its focus to the Asian market.
Cyclingnews could not reach team owner Flavio Becca for a comment, and a spokesman said the team had no comment. However, Cyclingnews understands that some kind of sponsor announcement is expected in the coming weeks, perhaps even before the Tour of Flanders, but it is not going to be confirmation of a new title sponsor.
RadioShack has been a sponsor in the UCI WorldTour since 2010, when it stepped in to sponsor a team featuring Lance Armstrong and managed by Johan Bruyneel. The team ended after only two seasons, and Bruyneel moved over to the Leopard Trek team, taking RadioShack with him.
Doping within the sport is also said to have played a role in RadioShack's decision. Armstrong was given a lifelong ban and confessed to having doped throughout most of his career, although not during his time with RadioShack. Bruyneel, who was also named in the USADA's suit and is awaiting a hearing, also faces a possible lifetime ban. He was let go from the team in October 2012 after the USADA's reasoned decision was issued, which detailed his role in the USPS doping scheme.
In addition, Fränk Schleck has been given a one-year doping ban for a positive test at the Tour de France last summer whilst with the team.
The team faces further problems with its riders. Its captain Andy Schleck has finished only one race since April 2012, is apparently suffering from the after effects of his crash last year which left him with a broken pelvis. His team has admitted he needs psychiatric help,and he was reported to have been found drunk in a Munich hotel after abandoning Tirreno-Adriatico. He has denied the reports.
Multiple World Champion Fabian Cancellara is said to have tried to break his contract with the team last year, but was unable to do so. The contract expires the end of this year, and it is unlikely he would stay even if a new sponsor is found. He has been linked to the new Swiss IAM Cycling team.
The team also features two of the oldest riders in the peloton, Jens Voigt and Chris Horner, both of whom will turn 42 this autumn. L'Equipe suggested that they and Andreas Kloden will all retire if the team folds at the end of 2013.
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