RadioShack Leopard team to miss many races as Becca limits budget for remainder of current season
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

RadioShack Leopard team to miss many races as Becca limits budget for remainder of current season

by VeloNation Press at 6:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Paris-Brussels and Paris-Tours thought to be off the schedule

Fabian CancellaraThe autumn programme of the RadioShack Leopard team has been compromised by the decision of the team owner Flavio Becca to limit the budget available to send squads to events.

Becca is a wealthy Luxembourg businessman now thought to be facing financial difficulties, but who has also lost interest in his cycling team. He has sold the squad’s WorldTour licence to current equipment sponsor Trek, and the American company will take over the running of the squad from 2014.

In the meantime, however, the team will not be able to compete in a full range of events for the remainder of the season.

“It is indeed a question of money,” spokesman Tim Vanderjeugd told Sportwereld. “That's why we can not ride a number of smaller races. To not start in the World Tour races is not an option. We would lose our license.”

As a result the team will compete in the remaining WorldTour events; the in-progress Vuelta a España, plus the GP Ouest France in Plouay (September 1st), the GP Cycliste de Québec, the GP Cycliste de Montréal (September 13th and 15th respectively), Il Lombardia (October 6th) and the Tour of Beijing (Oct 11th – 15th).

However it is uncertain if it will ride any other races. According to Sportwereld, the team is consequently unlikely to ride events such as Paris-Brussels, Paris-Tours and the Tour of Britain. The latter race has clarified things from its perspective, saying that the team had never indicated it would take part.

The net effect is that riders will find it difficult to reach or maintain a high level of form due to a lack of competition; either a core group of riders will get all the available races, or the events will be shared around the team, with riders only getting to compete a couple more times before the end of the year.

That in turn could have a knock on effect on their prospects for the world championships, although those riding the Vuelta a España will be able to build up well.

Becca got involved in cycling prior to the 2011 season, with his money helping to set up the Leopard squad which featured riders such as Fabian Cancellara and the Schleck brothers. Efforts to attract a title sponsor were unsuccessful, although a merging with the RadioShack team in 2012 helped to take pressure off the budget.

The joining of two different squads brought other problems, however, with a lack of team unity becoming apparent at times. The addition of Johan Bruyneel also caused discord, with his management style not working well with the team’s top riders.

Becca indicated this year that he was not interested in staying involved and while the structure will continue next season after the licence is transferred over to Trek, the racing programme will be subdued for the remainder of this year.


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