Nestlé bottled water division Aquarel is to replace US soft drinks giant Coca-Cola as a main sponsor of the Tour de France cycling championship. Aquarel signed a three-year contract worth €4-4.5m and joins the ‘sponsor superleague’ for the event, alongside Champion, Fiat and Crédit Lyonnais.

Coke will continue its involvement as a regular partner and its flagship product will remain the “official drink” of the championship until 2009. “We had a number of questions about the general context of cycling,” said Aquarel marketing director Hubert Genieys, “but the appointment of Patrice Clerc as head of the Amaury Sport Organisation reassured us.”

In contrast, Crédit Lyonnais and Fiat have still not confirmed that they will be continuing their involvment with the championship.