McEwen sets example signing to the Australian Fly V/Pegasus Racing team ProTour project
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

McEwen sets example signing to the Australian Fly V/Pegasus Racing team ProTour project

by Conal Andrews at 7:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Hopes others follow suit, will compete for one more season then move into management

Robbie McEwenTriple Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen hopes that his signing to the aspiring Australian ProTour team will both increase the chances of that licence being awarded, and also encourage other top-name riders to get on board.

The 38 year old confirmed today that he will switch from the Katusha team at the end of the season to the Fly V Australia/Pegasus Racing setup. That team has reportedly raised the $14 million it needs to lobby for a ProTour licence, and has put in an application with cycling’s world governing body, the UCI.

Financial and ethical requirements aside, the team also needs to meet a certain sporting level, showing that it has the power to race in cycling’s highest level. The signing of top-name riders is a crucial step and so McEwen’s contract is a major step forward. So too the signing of 2008 world championship time trial silver medallist, the Canadian Svein Tuft, who was also confirmed this week.

''I see this team as a huge opportunity to do something I've always dreamt about as a rider,'' McEwen told the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday. “I, like many others, have always said I'd love to be part of an Aussie team in Europe. Well, I'm not just going to talk about it from the safe haven of a big foreign team. I'm taking that step, and I hope it can help to motivate others to do the same in future. It's also a huge opportunity for Australian cycling, and I hope the team gets all the support it deserves.”

Fly V owner Chris White is providing much of the impetus behind the project, and knows that netting McEwen’s signature could prove to be crucial. He recently said that he was keen to negotiate with Heinrich Haussler and Thor Hushovd after news emerged that the Cervélo Teat Team would cease to exist at the end of the season. Those two riders plus several of their team-mates ultimately opted to move to Garmin-Transisions, however, but White will push on undeterred.

Once reason why he is hopeful that he can get the nod is because UCI President Pat McQuaid has publicly acknowledged the importance of a ProTour team. While White would have to prove that his setup warrants a licence, the strategic benefit to the UCI of having a team based there could only have a positive impact on their deliberations.

“I have spoken to several different people over the past couple of years in Australia about the possibility of an Australian ProTour team,” McQuaid told VeloNation recently. “All I can say is that the UCI would welcome a ProTour team from there as Australian cyclists are very strongly represented in the ProTour, at the top level of the sport.

“It would be very fitting, and also beneficial to the development of the sport should a good, strong Australian ProTour team be put together with Australian sponsors and an Australian look about it.”

White’s next step is to continue to search for top-level riders, and also to finalise his plans for the launch of the new main sponsor. The identity of the 2011 backer has been keep secret, but those details are expected to be announced soon, and the team will take another step towards making history.


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