Former Olympic champion and four-time world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara has welcomed new sponsorship coming into cycling as a sign that big brands are once again backing the sport.
Cancellara’s team Trek Factory Racing got the press conferences underway yesterday in Leeds with the announcement that Korean electronics giant Samsung is to come on board as sponsor.
Alongside news that NetApp Endura – the union of a Scottish and German team for whom Yorkshire’s Scott Thwaites rides – will also receive a new major sponsor next season, negates the growing concerns within the sport that leading businesses are turning their back on professional cycling.
Belkin, which came in on the eve of last year’s Tour to rescue the Rabobank team from folding, have already announced they will leave the Dutch team at the end of the season.
And Giant Shimano, for whom sprint sensation Marcel Kittel is among the favourites to win tomorrow’s sprint stage into Harrogate, could also leave the sport.
But Samsung’s support was yesterday welcomed by Cancellara, the 33-year-old Swiss racer who has won eight stages of the Tour de France.
“I’m pretty excited that Samsung, a big global brand, is stepping into our team and cycling, not just to promote but to get something out of the sport,” said Cancellara, whose first and last Tour stage wins came eight years apart.
“I think it’s necessary. Just to say cycling has a bad past, that’s bad.
“When we see globally how many sponsors are referring to the past as a get out doesn’t help.
“We can’t just live in the past, we have to live in the future.
“It’s not just cycling with a bad past, all sport has a bad past.
“This partnership shows there is something more than the past, there is the future.”