Skoda Extends Tour de France Official Car Deal Through 2011

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The daily procession of automobiles, trucks, motorhomes and bicycles in the Tour de France has reached its saturation point. Hundreds of officials’ cars, team vehicles, media cars and photographers’ motorcycles depart each stage of the race in a grand and often frantic ceremony more elaborate than the departure of the cyclists.

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But the Tour de France is nothing if not a moveable money machine, which is why one of its most important sponsorships is the race’s official vehicle.

The manufacturer will serve it that capacity was announced on the eve of the 2008 race route when Skoda agreed with race organizers to extend its current sponsorship through 2011.

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Professional cycling’s image is not as its best, but that didn’t deter the Czech manufacturer from agreeing to keep its brand in the race’s spotlight.

Skoda’s vehicles are not available in the United States, but the brand is distributed in nearly 40 countries — and that’s reason enough to be part of the cycling biggest event.

Financial terms were not disclosed. But new contract was reached with Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), organizer of the Tour de France and other international bicycle races like Paris-Roubaix.

“By this move, we want to help the organizers to clean up cycling,” Skoda spokesman Jaroslav Cerny told The Associated Press. “We want to support them in good as well as bad times.”

Skoda, which has also supported the Giro d’Italia since 2006, provides more than 200 cars to the Tour. It began its sponsorship with the race in 2004. Skoda also sponsors ice hockey.

“Our continuing involvement in cycling and especially the partnership with the Tour de France is part of our long-term strategy of teaming up with the best and thus enhancing the brand awareness and visibility on one side while demonstrating first-class quality of our products on the other,” said Martin Lauer, Skoda spokesperson.

“Cycling is a worldwide phenomenon, a sport done by millions of people of all age categories and professions. We want to be where our existing and potential customers are and, at the same time, help support this wonderful sport.”

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