CREDIT AGRICOLE TEAM FAILS TO FIND NEW SPONSOR
Credit Agricole team manager Roger Legeay has admitted he has failed to find a sponsor to replace the French bank and has released his riders to sign with other teams for 2009.
Legeay had set August 1st as his deadline for potential sponsors to come on board and when several potential deals fell through, he picked up the phone this morning and called sprinter Thor Hushovd, Britain’s Jeremy Hunt and the other 25 riders and told them the bad news.
Legeay is hoping his announcement may produce one last chance of finding a backer but is not optimistic after 22 years of team management. The former professional has managed the team since 1986 when it was sponsored by Peugeot, Z, Gan and Credit Agricole. The team has been going for much longer with Peugeot first involved in sponsorship back in 1958.
For Legeay the demise of the team will probably signal his retirement.
“The negotiations I’ve had with several companies have broken down. As I’d promised, I called all my riders to tell them the news and end the clauses that I’d signed with them,” Legeay told Reuters on Friday.
“I’d fixed August 1st as the deadline with both the potential sponsors and the riders and team staff. The sponsors said no and at the moment I haven’t got any other offers.”
“The leading riders in the team such as Thor Hushovd, Simon Gerrans, Pierre Rolland, Remi Pauriol and Mark Renshaw have told me they won’t make a decision about their future before ringing me. They’ve given me until August 15 and that gives me a bit of hope. Perhaps this announcement will cause something to happen.”
The Gerolsteiner team is still looking for a sponsor to replace the German water company for 2009 but is also running out of time. Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer has set a deadline of before the start of the Beijing Olympics to find a company before he also releases his riders.
HUSHOVD TO MISS THE OLYMPICS
Thor Hushovd had suffered a double blow on Friday when he also announced that he would also not take part in the Olympic Games due to illness.
The big Norwegian sprinter won a stage in the Tour de France but also suffered in the final part of the race.
“It’s a huge disappointment and I’m very sorry but I’ve got to think about my health. I struggled at the Tour de France and I was sick. I wanted to compete in the Games but as I explained to the team doctor, I need to rest,” Hushovd said.