June 16, 2006
iShares will replace Phonak as primary sponsor
The Phonak cycling team will become a little more American next season. A new sponsor, iShares, will take over title sponsorship as hearing aid manufacturer Phonak steps aside after 7 years.
Team owner Andy Rihs said iShares is “exactly in line with what we had in mind,” and iShares CEO Lee Kranefuss said the sponsorship will help iShares “expand the visibility of our brand across Europe.”
Phonak was unhappy with a string of positive drug or dope tests on the team, notably Tyler Hamilton's positive at the Vuelta in 2004.
Rihs told VeloNews he expects Floyd Landis to remain a key part of the team:
“We hope so,” he said. “This is an American company, although I believe they are very interested in European market here. In America, who are the rock stars in cycling? Lance Armstrong, and for a little while maybe Tyler Hamilton... and now Floyd Landis.”
That would explain the shades.
Landis's local paper does a nice writeup of the World's Fastest Mennonite as he readies for the Tour.