Luxembourg based Leopard SA, who earlier this month were visited by financial services company Ernst&Young over claims that riders and suppliers had not been paid on time, insisted that reports of their demise were “malicious and unfounded” and that they were applying for a four-year UCI license following their debut season in cycling.
The team, formed this year as a merger of Leopard Trek and the old RadioShack outfit, boasts star riders such as the Schleck brothers, Frank and Andy, and Fabian Cancellara.
“In response to malicious and unfounded rumours, Leopard SA... formally denies any situation that could be interpreted as close to collapse or to bankruptcy,” a strongly-worded statement read.
“At its early start in professional cycling and at the time of its application for a four years UCI license, Leopard’s business plan anticipated an important loss to be covered by its shareholders for its first cycling season.
“The financial accounts as of December 31st, 2011 are perfectly aligned with the former budget. The company’s and UCI’s auditors did not only confirm the validity of the annual accounts, but also confirmed the capacity of the company to pursue its activities.
“Leopard is also in line with its business plan for its second cycling season thanks to the support of new sponsors and to the indefectible support of its shareholders and its sponsors who have been with Leopard SA since the creation of the team.”
The team has had a disappointing summer so far, with star rider and 2010 Tour de France champion Andy Schleck ruled out of both the Tour and the Olympics through injury, his brother Frank currently having an indifferent Tour and Swiss time trial ace Cancellara forced to withdraw after stage 11 due to the birth of his second child.