French newspaper reports the team could potentially fold at the end of the season
GIRONA, Spain (VN) — The French sports daily L’Equipe reported Tuesday that Texas electronics retailer RadioShack will end its cycling sponsorship at the conclusion of the 2013 season.
Team officials, however, were quick to say that they had not heard anything from RadioShack officials as of Tuesday morning.
“We do not know anything. I cannot confirm it,” RadioShack-Leopard spokesman Philippe Maertens told VeloNews via telephone. “I don’t think [RadioShack] has even decided yet. We don’t know anything.”
L’Equipe reported that a string of doping scandals in cycling, including the positive case of team rider Frank Schleck during the 2012 Tour de France, and a drop in overseas earnings has prompted its decision.
If true, RadioShack will be stranded without major sponsors following the exit late last year of Nissan, which removed its brand from team colors, but paid out its financial commitment through this season.
Following the departure of Nissan, bicycle manufacture Trek slotted in as the team’s second sponsor.
RadioShack entered the peloton in 2010 as title sponsor of what was the second year of Lance Armstrong’s comeback. The Texan has since seen his seven Tour de France victories disqualified and he has been banned for life.
The team’s latest incarnation was born from the fusion of RadioShack and Leopard-Trek at the end of the 2011 season.
Last season was rocky at best for the team as Johan Bruyneel — who is facing a possible lifetime ban as part of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) case in doping practices at U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel — tried to manage the team while facing brewing legal troubles.
Team owner Flavio Becca of Luxembourg will now need to secure new funding for the team, but L’Equipe also reported that the team could fold at the end of this season.
Team officials confirmed Tuesday that RadioShack’s sponsorship contract ends at the conclusion of the 2013 season, but said the squad has a valid UCI ProTeam license through 2014.
The report comes as Andy Schleck continues to struggle with his comeback from a career-threatening crash in last year’s Critérium du Dauphiné.