Pegasus Sports fighting to get back on track after loss of big backer
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pegasus Sports fighting to get back on track after loss of big backer

by Shane Stokes at 7:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Management working hard to resolve situation in advance of UCI deadline

Ben DayWith the final UCI deadline for its Pro Continental team application coming this Wednesday, the Pegasus Sports management are talking with existing sponsors and others to try to make up a shortfall in budget for the 2011 season. VeloNation understands that a concerted effort is being made to secure the team, and that staff are working hard to ensure that the project has a viable future.

Several sources have told VeloNation that a major backer opted not to continue with the team last week, with the UCI’s decision not to award it a ProTour licence and the lack of certainty that it would gain a place in the 2011 Tour de France being two possible reasons mentioned.

It has also been suggested that the ongoing Alberto Contador case could possibly have made things more difficult, in terms of its effect on the sport’s image and the unease that would generate.

A difficult financial situation for the investor is also a consideration. Three separate sources have told VeloNation that the backer who decided not to continue with the team is the American businessman George N. Gillett Jr.

He co-owned Liverpool Football Club with Tom Hicks, purchasing it for an estimated £435 million in February 2007.

However on October 15th of this year, they lost ownership of the club. Despite their efforts to resist the sale, it was purchased by New England Sports Ventures (NESV) for a sum thought to be around £300 million, representing a loss for them of approximately £135 million.

Whatever the prime reason for his departure, it appears that the team has been left short on what it needs for 2011.

On Friday, VeloNation spoke to Ed Beamon, who is set to move from team owner Chris White’s Fly V Australia squad to the bigger team in 2011, acting as a directeur sportif there. Beamon said that a teleconference was organised between team management for Saturday, and that things would be discussed further then. He said they were determined to keep things moving forward.

“We really have an incredible group of guys…I am so impressed with the chemistry and the quality of the group,” he told VeloNation then. “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.”

VeloNation understands that the team’s other backers are being approached to try to keep the project on track, and that the riders and staff are hoping that something can be done.

While some of those riders have reportedly approached other teams to try to line up a plan B, there’s a clear plus for them if the team can somehow continue as had been planned. With riders such as Tour de France stage winner Robbie McEwen and Robbie Hunter on board, the quality of the Pegasus Sports line-up is clear. Also, the likelihood of positive media attention and race invitations as Australia’s first top-level squad are important considerations.

Time is very much running out, though, and any prospective backer needs to move very quickly indeed.


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