Skoda re-evaluates its sponsorship of the Tour de France

Tour de France, photo: CTK

The news of the recent doping scandal at the legendary Tour de France has received so much coverage that even those with no interest in sport could hardly fail to notice. As a result of the scandals, some of the main partners of the legendary cycling race have begun considering pulling out of sponsorship. One of them is the biggest Czech carmaker Skoda Auto, which has been the tour's main official partner for the past four years.

Tour de France, photo: CTK
The Tour de France has brought the Czech car producer worldwide publicity like no other event. One can hardly fail to notice the carmaker's logo along tour stages and on the TV screen. Skoda has benefited fairly well from the added publicity: its market share in France has been on the rise since its four-year sponsoring contract was signed. Jaroslav Cerny is the spokesman for Skoda Auto:

"When we started in 2004 the market share of Skoda in French market was 0.6 percent. And last year, or this year, it is 0.89 percent, so there was an increase. Skoda Auto has a contract with the Tour de France until the end of this year. After this Tour we will evaluate the four-year contract and then we will decide."

If the latest scandal on the Tour - which saw race leader Michael Rasmussen fired - has put Skoda's future participation in doubt, the firm is not taking a final decision just yet. Skoda has already announced it will only do so after the Tour ends. Jaroslav Kulhanek, former head of Skoda Auto and a member of its supervisory board, has already made it clear that he would like the firm to continue in cooperation. Presumably the Tour will eventually recover from recent scandals and regain its original prestige. Anthony Grulich, who works as a sport coordinator for the Czech Cycling Federation, says the situation is not as serious as it may seem:

"Well of course it's not a positive thing to happen at the Tour de France this year, its getting a lot of press coverage, but I don't think its something that is limited to just cycling, it is throughout the sport. Of course it doesn't set a good light on cycling and I am glad to see they are actually being caught. I think Tour de France has a lot more to offer can't be destroyed by something like this."