Riis seeks riders' verbal agreement

With an extension to his sponsorship deal with CSC still not confirmed on paper, Bjarne Riis is tryi

With an extension to his sponsorship deal with CSC still not confirmed on paper, Bjarne Riis is tryi


Despite plenty of success so far in the Tour de France, CSC team boss Bjarne Riis is still waiting for a signature from his IT company backer confirming the extension of their sponsorship, which ends this season. But, according to Danish TV station DR, a deal may be close, writes Susanne Horsdal.

"We're still negotiating and I'm optimistic. The objective is to get a deal as soon as possible," says CSC Europe vice-president Jerry Scott. He believes that it can happen before the Tour finishes in a couple of weeks, but adds that although the team's performance in the Tour so far has been fantastic, a new deal isn't directly linked to the results in France

In the meantime, Riis is trying to reach verbal agreements with some of the key riders to on his team in spite of the uncertain sponsorship situation. Among those Riis has been talking to are Carlos Sastre and, more surprisingly, 36-year-old Giovanni Lombardi. "I don't think anyone has taken as much wind as him in the first week. He's doing a great job and I hope he wants to continue," Riis has told Danish paper BT. Originally the idea was for the Italian to ride this season with CSC in order to prepare for the World Championships, where he's expected to help Alessandro Petacchi, but Lombardi has proven a great aide to Ivan Basso.

Bobby Julich, whose contract runs for another year, has also had talks with Riis. "He wants to extend my deal and I'd very much like to stay. If we can keep the team together it'll be one of the best teams ever, and I'd like to finish my career here," Julich tells the paper.

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