Continental steps up to Tour de France main sponsor as Team Sky search continues
Continental, the German tyre company, has stepped up its involvement with cycling’s Tour de France to become a main partner of the tour, in a deal with ASO, the race owner and organiser, running until 2022.
The company had joined as a lower-tier official partner at the end of 2017.
Continental effectively replaces Vittel, the mineral water brand, in the top rank of sponsors, with Vittel reducing its involvement, claiming that it is “now a well-known and recognised brand on the Tour.”
Continental will receive increased exposure in its new role, with its logo adorning the finish arches and the so-called ‘flamme rouge’ arches marking one kilometre until the finish of each stage in the race.
Continental also becomes the partner of each stage victory of the race, with a Continental representative to present the trophy to the winner of the stage on the podium.
Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, said: “The joy of the stage victory is the daily excitement of the Tour de France. The rider who raises his arms on the finish line, whether he is a collector of bouquets or it’s the only success of his career, is sure to be one of the highlights of his life. Continental links its image with these thrills, which are also linked to the notion of performance, at the highest level by the tyre brand.”
Continental joins LCL, Krys, Skoda and E.Leclerc, the supermarket chain replacing Carrefour from this year, as a top-tier partner.
Continental is tyre supplier to six top-tier UCI WorldTour teams - Bahrain-Merida, Groupama-FDJ, Movistar Team, Katusha-Alpecin Team, Team Sky and Team Sunweb - and also supplies tyres to the official vehicles of the tour.
Meanwhile, Ooredoo, the Qatar-based telecoms company, has signed up as a gold sponsor of the Tour of Oman, part of the UCI Asia Tour, which is presently under way in the country on the Arabian peninsula.
Under the agreement, Ooredoo is providing 10 branded cars to help cyclists with transporting their bicycles from region to region during the five-day race.
• Hopes that the UK-based Team Sky could transform itself into a Colombian team appear to have been dashed after David Brailsford, the team’s general manager, described the move as “very unlikely,” despite recent talks at the Tour Colombia.
Brailsford told Spain’s Marca: “Colombian cycling has enormous potential, everyone knows it.
“I have no doubt that Colombian cycling will continue to grow, Colombia has many possibilities to become the first world power. [Next year], I want to set up a training camp here before the race.”
There had been hopes that the state-controlled Ecopetrol, the Colombian oil company, might take on the role of main sponsor from 2020, when Sky, the international pay-TV operator, is due to drop its involvement in the team.
However, Brailsford played down the possibility, while adding: “I am open to everything, if they call me…”
Team Sky’s budget is said to be over £30 million ($39 million) a year, which could be difficult to replace, albeit Comcast, the new owner of Sky is reported to have offered to supply 70 per cent of the team’s budget in 2021.