Stapleton still waiting on sponsorship question

HTC-Highroad's Bob Stapleton talks sponsorship before the start in Limoux.

HTC-Highroad's Bob Stapleton talks sponsorship before the start in Limoux. (Image credit: Barry Ryan)

Bob Stapleton still has not made an announcement on the future sponsorship of HTC-Highroad, and none is expected on today's second rest day of the Tour de France. Still, the team owner is not worried about the possibility of losing top riders to other teams. 

“The only thing I don't worry about is losing the quality of the team. Our sports management have been together for five years now, our staff is among the best in the sport, and they also want to stay together. We've always been good at getting new riders in, develop them and to some degree also to keep them,” he told Ekstra Bladet. “So I'm not worried about the offers from outside.”

Directeur Sportif Brian Holm has already confirmed that he has received an offer to move to another squad, along with team manager Rolf Aldag, sprint advisor Erik Zabel and five or six unnamed riders, presumably including Mark Cavendish.

Again, Stapleton was not concerned. “If we don't get a deal with new sponsors in the end, it can happen, yes. But it'd be great for them and it would make me happy. But I think they hope we can continue together. We have several options, and we investigate them thoroughly. If we are successful, everyone will be happy.”

Rumours as to possible sponsors range from an extension by HTC to, ironically, an unnamed German company. Stapleton refused to comment on the story that a three-year extension with HTC was to be announced today, saying, “I can't confirm. I can only say that there are good, intelligent talks under way. But simply, nothing is in place before we have a signed contract.”

At one point, Stapleton had said that an announcement would be made today, the second rest day, but that has changed. He has not yet set a final deadline to decide the team's future.

“I think it would be foolish. We report back to the team all the time about what is happening and how far we are in negotiations. We talk openly, honestly and fairly with our employees. More than anything else I think of the employees' well being. The team has always been more about the people behind it than about financial success.”

Stapleton realized he faced the loss of his stars, like Cavendish, but said that the outfit has always been known for developing young riders. “If we can offer competitive contracts and reasonable stability, people will come. We have been deluged with offers of our riders over time, and all young riders would like to ride for our team because they can see the success we can help them to get."

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