Pegasus Sports uncertainty prompts some riders to inquire with rival squads
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Pegasus Sports uncertainty prompts some riders to inquire with rival squads

by Shane Stokes at 7:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Beamon believes team will get Pro Continental licence

Chris WhiteThe news today that the Pegasus Sports team has - for now at least - been denied a UCI Pro Continental licence, plus rumours that one of the sponsors had withdrawn have led to considerable confusion amongst some of the riders set to compete with it in 2011.

The new Australian squad has been granted an extension until December 15th to get its paperwork in order, but some of the riders are already inquiring with other teams elsewhere. While their preferred option is that things will work out as had been planned with Pegasus Sports, they are concerned about the situation and are determined not to be left short.

VeloNation has spoken to a source close to some of those riders, and he stated that today’s news plus concerns about the fast-approaching new season has led to a push to pursue back up plans. He said that the riders have all been assured by management that things will be finalised by the UCI deadline, but that they remain nervous about the situation.

This concern is downplayed by directeur sportif Ed Beamon, who worked with the sister team Fly V Australia this year and is due to take up a similar role with the new squad in 2011. He is aware that there is confusion and concern but told VeloNation that as far as he is concerned, there is no need for panic.

“We have been granted an extension by the UCI based on some administrative details that need to be clarified by them [the Pegasus Sports owners],” he stated. “Because of the deadline, we were compelled to ensure that the team – the riders and the staff and everybody – realised that we were still sorting out some details.

“That has probably created a little bit of panic…it has certainly created a lot of press. There has been tremendous enthusiasm for the team, so any bit of news - especially news as important as the registration process - creates a lot of chatter.

“But I think…to quote Mark Twain, ‘the reports of a demise have been greatly exaggerated.’ I don’t think there is tremendous cause for concern just yet. Come the 15th, if we can’t get the team registered, then that would be a cause for concern. But we are all pretty confident that it is just a matter of time for us. From my perspective at least, any rumours about sponsorship issues are unfounded.”

Beamon admitted that he is not privy to the full financial details but is hopeful that everything will get sorted out in time. Those on the management side of the team will hold an important teleconference tomorrow, linking up across three continents to discuss the situation and take the next step forward.

Beamon said that he has already spoken to team owner Chris White (pictured), and his understanding of the situation is that things are should be rectified in time.

The team had originally hoped to snag a ProTeam licence, but is now vying to secure a place in the next rank of cycling’s hierarchy. “We had to get an extension from UCI to get some details organised,” Beamon explained. “I think that in anticipation of the UCI list, Chris had to communicate internally with the guys and I am sure that caused a little bit of rumour-mongering. We have that administrative meeting tomorrow to try to make sure we get some I’s dotted and some T’s crossed. Hopefully they are all dotted and crossed and we should be back on track.”

Uncertainty over sponsorship:

Part of the reason for the uncertainly is that one month before the start of the season, the team still has not announced its sponsors for 2011. The Luxembourg Pro Cycling project is in a similar situation but the volume of strong riders, the experience of the team management and the fact that it had no problems in securing a ProTour licence meant that the delay in that case is seen as a deliberate tactical decision to maximise publicity.

The situation with the Pegasus Sports has been regarded differently, due partly to the difficulty in finalising its licence and also because the identity of the title sponsor was originally set to be announced during the world road race championships.

That announcement never came. At the time, a rumour went through the industry that the title sponsor had got cold feet as a result of the announcement of Alberto Contador’s positive test for Clenbuterol.

Beamon contradicts this, saying that some backers had not come through but given the impression that they were smaller players. He added that he didn’t think the Contador case nor any similar issues had caused problems with backers.

His position is that he still believes things can be resolved in time, and that the team will move forward with its plans for 2011. If that doesn’t happen, he believes that a big opportunity will have been missed.

“We really have an incredible group of guys…I am so impressed with the chemistry and the quality of the group,” he told VeloNation. “I think they have not really been able to show themselves in their best light, but put together in the right environment, I think there are real diamonds in this group. So for sure we want to make sure that we give those diamonds an opportunity to shine.”

Robbie McEwenThe team features some big name riders, including twelve-time Tour de France stage winner Robbie McEwen, double Tour stage victor Robbie Hunter and time trial specialist Svein Tuft. It is lobbying to get into the Santos Tour Down Under and, providing it gets a Pro Continental licence, should have a decent chance of doing riding its home event.

“There hasn’t been any official confirmation of an invitation, but I think it would obviously be good for the race and good for us and good for Australia to have an Australian team represented,” said Beamon. “There’s certainly been a lot of support in Australia, from all quarters.

“That said, we do have plans for Langkawi, Oman, Qatar and beyond, as well as the national championships right at the beginning of January. Those invitations are confirmed, so the team will certainly be racing early and at a high level.”

That’s depending on the UCI’s decision about the licence, of course. It’s late in the season and many will be hoping the team gets the nod after December 15th; that’s especially true of the riders, who will be nervously awaiting a decision as the clock ticks down.

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