Australian ProTour team planned for 2011, wants Tour de France place
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australian ProTour team planned for 2011, wants Tour de France place

by Conal Andrews at 9:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 

A ProTour licence by 2011 and participation in the Tour de France are the ambitious goals of the Australian Road Cycling (ARC) group, which is putting plans in motion to build a team for next season.

Victor Barichello, one of the group’s directors, met Pat McQuaid in Adelaide on Saturday and discussed the plans with him. The UCI President said afterwards that the governing body would do what it could to help the project get off the ground, recognising that it would help further the globalisation of the sport.

“We can give them moral support, written support and any support they might need in speaking to big sponsors and can work with them on that,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“They seem confident they are going in the right direction. “It would be a question of where they are. 'And if they need anything from me or the UCI that might assist them getting over the last hurdle, then I would be prepared to do that.”

ARC has since issued a press release confirming its intention to set up a team in time for next season.

"The meeting was to update the UCI on ARC's progress and to discuss the application process for a ProTour licence," it stated.

"ARC is working through the process of formalising a bid for an Australian ProTour licence. At this stage our intention is to lodge an application by the June deadline in order to secure a ProTour licence for 2011.

"The bid will see an Australian team compete at the highest levels of professional road cycling and has been the focus of ARC for two and a half years."

Barichello told AAP that the meeting with McQuaid was a very positive one. "Mr McQuaid's encouragement and public support is a significant step for Australian road cycling and the UCI's plan to globalise the sport," he said.

The project will undoubtedly benefit from the positive press and public reception to the Santos Tour Down Under, which was accepted as being a big success this year. It became a ProTour event in 2008 and will remain part of the series for the foreseeable future.

Race against time:

If the 2011 timeframe is to be met, much work needs to be done by ARC in the months ahead. McQuaid described the significance of the task to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It would be possible but whether it is feasible or not I am not so sure,” he said. “I have to wait and see where we are at. It is certainly possible because the applications for a ProTour licence need to be in by the end of June this year.

“They have five months to get the administration together and get all the requirements together.”

ARC has not gone into details of who would be backing the team, but told AAP that it was confident that the necessary funding would be in place in time for the ProTour licence application.

Getting the necessary level of riders in place is also part of what must be done. An Australian ProTour team has been spoken about for several years, and some of the current professionals have expressed an interest in potentially riding with such a team. ARC’s goal is that at least half of its line-up would be from the country.

McQuaid told the Sydney Morning Herald that negotiations would have to be done, and these could include efforts to get teams to agree to release riders prior to the end of their current deals.

“If a new team comes on to the market, be it an Australian team - or as did Sky, they have to get 25 to 30 riders from a pool, most of whom are already under contact in one form or other,” the Irishman said.

“It is difficult to come in at a good level and just take the available riders - in other words, riders who are at the end of their contract.

“There will be always some riders in the middle of their contracts who talk to new teams, or new teams talk to [them], and they have to find a system in which they can be released.

McQuaid recently indicated that the UCI plans to tighten up on transfer rules in order to prevent a repeat of a situation like Bradley Wiggin’s move to Team Sky. His previous team, Garmin Transitions, wanted to keep the rider but ultimately gave up due to the threat of a long court case.

McQuaid said that future transfers would require an agreement between the squads concerned. 'Once two teams agree, then the rider can move.”


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