Nissan wasn’t the first carmaker to sponsor a cycling team, but it has just joined the increasing list of major companies withdrawing sponsoring from the highest level of the sport presumably in the expanding wake of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.
According to a report in the Luxembourg newspaper Le Quotidien and confirmed by officials at the manufacturer’s North American division on prominent cycling websites, the Nissan name will not appear on the jerseys or bikes the RadioShack team for the 2013 season.
Nissan, which became a full-time sponsor of the squad that features prominent riders Andy Schleck, Chris Horner and Fabian Cancellara, will also no longer supply sponsor and staff vehicles to the team.
Nissan has also been a prominent sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.
Correspondingly, Armstrong was given the first Nissan Leaf, the plug-in electric vehicle, and was featured in the carmaker’s commercials for the highly routed “green” vehicle.
Nissan officials did not elaborate on the abrupt exit, but a representative commented to VeloNews.com:
“Nissan and the management team of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek cycling have reached an agreement that provides for Nissan’s immediate withdrawal as a sponsor of the team, while enabling the team to continue competing in the upcoming 2013 season,” said David P. Reuter, vice president of corporate communications. “Nissan wishes the riders, team management, and professional cycling well in future endeavors.”
Armstrong, who seven Tour de France titles were recently vacated via a U.S. Anti-Doping investigation, was the team’s most well known rider. Armstrong announced the new RadioShack-Nissan squad during a Tour de France press conference in 2010 for the 2011 season. Nissan’s involvement grew nearly exponentially for the 2012 season.
But Johan Bruyneel, the former manager, left the team in October in controversy via his alleged involvement in same doping investigation.
Nissan joined Rabobank, the financial institution, at the top of list of global companies exiting cycling.