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TDU gets Škoda backing

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South Australian Minister for Tourism, Jane Lomax-Smith

South Australian Minister for Tourism, Jane Lomax-Smith (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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Under tight security, Oppey

Under tight security, Oppey (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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Under tight security, Oppey the TDU mascot overlooks the TDU 'secret' hidden in the shipping crate.

Under tight security, Oppey the TDU mascot overlooks the TDU 'secret' hidden in the shipping crate. (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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Nothing could get the smile off Tour Director Mike Turtur's face today at the announcement of a major sponsor for the 2008 Tour Down Under.

Nothing could get the smile off Tour Director Mike Turtur's face today at the announcement of a major sponsor for the 2008 Tour Down Under. (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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South Australian Minister for Tourism, Jane Lomax-Smith makes the announcement as the special delivery is opened to reveal Skoda Auto as the major sponsor for the 2008 Tour Down Under and a preview of one of their vehicles yet to be released on the Australian market.

South Australian Minister for Tourism, Jane Lomax-Smith makes the announcement as the special delivery is opened to reveal Skoda Auto as the major sponsor for the 2008 Tour Down Under and a preview of one of their vehicles yet to be released on the Australian market. (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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The crowds look on during the announcement regarding the 10th Tour Down Under in 2008.

The crowds look on during the announcement regarding the 10th Tour Down Under in 2008. (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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Head of Skoda Australia, Matthew Wiesner addressed the crowd explaining the launch of their vehicles into Australia and the company's history, which originally included manufacturing bicycles.

Head of Skoda Australia, Matthew Wiesner addressed the crowd explaining the launch of their vehicles into Australia and the company's history, which originally included manufacturing bicycles. (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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Tour Down Under Director Mike Turtur looked quite comfortable in Skoda's "Roomster".

Tour Down Under Director Mike Turtur looked quite comfortable in Skoda's "Roomster". (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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Many dignitaries were on hand at today's Tour Down Under announcement, including Matthew Wiesner (Skoda Australia), Jane Lomax-Smith (Minister for Tourism) and Mike Turtur (TDU Tour Director).

Many dignitaries were on hand at today's Tour Down Under announcement, including Matthew Wiesner (Skoda Australia), Jane Lomax-Smith (Minister for Tourism) and Mike Turtur (TDU Tour Director). (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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The Tour Down Under secret held on guard in Adelaide's Rundle Mall since Saturday being unveiled at today's sponsorship announcement.

The Tour Down Under secret held on guard in Adelaide's Rundle Mall since Saturday being unveiled at today's sponsorship announcement. (Image credit: Rachel Burke)
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Mike Turtur addresses the media contingent on hand for today's announcement of Skoda Auto as the major sponsor for the 2008 Tour Down Under.

Mike Turtur addresses the media contingent on hand for today's announcement of Skoda Auto as the major sponsor for the 2008 Tour Down Under. (Image credit: Rachel Burke)

Australia's Tour Down Under has announced the signing of Škoda Auto as the event's major sponsor for the next three years. The announcement of the Volkswagen-owned Czech Republic car manufacturer as title sponsor is the first in a string of commercial announcements anticipated over the coming months.

"Škoda is a big supporter of cycling in Europe, currently sponsoring nine ProTour teams, major events such as the Tour de France and is the official car of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)," said South Australian Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith. "The major sponsorship brings direct investment, a strong marketing leverage program and international relationships."

Škoda's title sponsorship of the Tour Down Under will be a brand awareness initiative, with the company formally entering the Australian market later this year. While there's currently a select number of Škodas available in Australia the manufacturer has never before formally entered the market, but plans to launch 14 dealerships nationwide following the anticipated unveiling of its Roomster and Octavia models at October's Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

"Whilst over time we made the transition to cars, the romance of cycling has remained strong and continued," said head of Škoda Australia Matthew Wiesner. "We are looking forward to being part of the Tour Down Under. Our association should help strengthen the event's standing internationally and in turn showcase our cars to an Australian audience."

Škoda was founded in the late 1800s as a bicycle manufacturer by 26 year-old bookseller Václav Klement before moving into motorcycle production in the final years of that century and then car production in 1905.

The announcement comes just before UCI's decision over the Tour Down Under's bid to become part of the ProTour calendar, with the UCI ProTour Council expected to make its decision in September.

A Škoda Roomster was unveiled from a plywood shipping box addressed to the Tour Down Under from 'Oppy', the event's kangaroo mascot which recently did a promotional tour at the Tour de France, at this morning's Rundle Mall announcement in Adelaide, South Australia.

For more information on the January 20 - 27 event, visit www.tourdownunder.com.au.

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