Saxo Bank says to drop team sponsorship at end of 2010

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s Saxo Bank will withdraw from sponsoring the Saxo Bank cycling team at the end of this year because the sponsorship has not lived up to its marketing goals, the bank said on Friday.

Saxo Bank has sponsored the team since 2008 and took over as the main sponsor at the beginning of last year.

“We recognise that the sponsorship has given us a great branding opportunity and increased our name recognition around the world,” Saxo Bank co-founders and co-chief executives Kim Fournais and Lars Seier Christensen said in a statement.

“However, we also have to acknowledge that the sponsorship has not been ideal in reaching our narrow target group.”

The bank will use its marketing funds differently after 2010 with the aim of achieving a broader profile than it gets from sponsoring a cycling team, they added.

“It goes without saying that we will support Team Saxo Bank and exploit the sponsorship to the full throughout the next year,” the Saxo executives said.

The bank said cooperation with the team and its manager, the 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis, had been excellent and that it looked forward to more victories in 2010.

The bank said the team’s biggest successes in 2009 included Andy Schleck’s runner-up finish in the Tour de France and Fabian Cancellara’s victory in the Tour de Suisse and in the time trial at the road world championships for the third time.

Reporting by John Acher; Editing by Sonia Oxley; To comment on this story: