Rider lineup and sponsorship announcement due next week for Australian ProTour team project
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rider lineup and sponsorship announcement due next week for Australian ProTour team project

by Shane Stokes at 7:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Pegasus Racing plans to run four teams, including new women’s squad

Robbie McEwenThe full lineup of the planned Australian ProTour team is due to be revealed early next week, together with the identities of the companies which will back the ambitious $14 million per year project.

A number of well-known riders have already signed up, including triple Tour de France Maillot Vert Robbie McEwen, Svein Tuft, Trent Lowe, Luke Roberts, Sergey Klimov and Christian Knees. It has said it is interested in signing world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara, and is chasing more big names.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Pegasus Racing team chief executive Chris White is due to present his final ProTour licence application to the UCI on Friday week. He has said that he is optimistic about the chances of getting the licence.

It has emerged that the project is about more than just the ProTour team, though, with a total of four squads to be involved. White’s plan is for the top-ranked men’s squad to be joined by a US-based Continental team, a women’s team and a Under 23 team based in Australia.

“This is an exciting development and a big commitment, which shows just how serious we are about cycling,” Chris White told journalist Rupert Guinness. “Not only are we looking to achieve ProTour status in 2011 - a first for Australia - we are also looking to bolster our program and make a commitment to women's cycling for the first time.

“We plan to be a significant, long-term player in all the major theatres of cycling around the world. The women's team round out our program perfectly and ticks all the right boxes.”

While the chief sponsor of the top men’s team has not yet been announced, details have emerged about the backers of the other teams. White has said that the US-based Fly V Australia Continental team will continue under the Virgin Blue title. The Aussie-based Virgin Blue-RBS Morgan under 23 squad will continue, and will be joined by an identically-titled womens’ squad.

The latter will target the Oceania circuit. Those who have been signed include national time trial champion Amber Halliday, the sprinter Kirsty Broun and Oceania TT champion Alexis Rhodes, who will compete in the world road championships next week.

The ProTour licence is the biggest part of the project, and White is hoping for a favourable outcome from the UCI. Its President Pat McQuaid has said that providing all the right elements are in place, having a ProTour team from that part of the world would be very beneficial to the globalisation of cycling.

“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.”

A number of other teams are vying for the eight available places in the UCI’s top ranking. Those applying to renew existing licences are Astana, FDJ, Team Geox, Liquigas-Doimo, HTC Columbia, Team Movistar and Euskaltel-Euskadi, while Cofidis, BBox Bouygues Telecom, Vacansoleil, BMC Racing, and the new Luxembourg team of the Schleck brothers want to step up to that level.

Of those, the future of the BBox Bouygues Telecom looks uncertain due difficult in finding a new main sponsor, but that still leaves twelve teams fighting for those eight ProTour slots.

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