Bike manufacturers ScottUSA, the second sponsor of the Saunier Duval team, announced on Wednesday they would step in and rescue the Spanish outfit.
Saunier Duval announced earlier on Wednesday they had pulled out of cycling immediately in the wake of the drug scandal that engulfed its team at the Tour de France.
Italian rider Riccardo Riccò tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO after the fourth stage time trial, prompting the elite team to pull out of the race last week.
Both Riccò and his compatriot Leonardo Piepoli, who had won the prestigious Bastille Day stage but had not failed a dope test, were sacked last Friday.
A statement issued by Saunier Duval on Wednesday confirmed: “This decision by the company was taken following the recent case of doping involving one of the team’s cyclists, Riccardo Riccò, and the suspicions against another cyclist.”
American firm ScottUSA, who has supplied the team’s bikes and had a contract with Saunier Duval until 2010, said they would provide financial support to the team until the rest of the season.
“The team will be called Scott, unless a new title sponsor comes in,” said Pascal Ducrot, a Europe-based Scott company official. “After that we’re sure the team will find a new title sponsor.”
In a statement released by Saunier Duval, Scott said it was “convinced that the recent events which damaged the team’s reputation at the Tour de France were caused by individuals. We see this as an opportunity to multiply our efforts to fight against doping. In the future our own anti-doping programme will be far stricter.”
Saunier Duval, part of a German company specialising in domestic heaters and air conditioning units, is the second sponsor to turn its back on cycling at this year’s Tour de France. The first was Barloworld who acted after their rider Moises Duenas tested positive like Riccò for the banned blood booster EPO (erythrpoietin) and also like Riccò on stage four.
Riccò is to be interviewed by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) at the end of the month, a day after his former Saunier team-mate Piepoli is also heard, Italian news agency Ansa said on Wednesday.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008