Ryan confirms interest in establishing Australian ProTeam
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ryan confirms interest in establishing Australian ProTeam

by Shane Stokes at 5:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Announcement due on January 17th at Santos Tour Down Under

Jayco cyclingFollowing the news that Australian Cycling’s national performance director Shayne Bannan has resigned from his position to become involved in an as-yet unnamed cycling project, the speculation that he could be set for a position with a team vying for ProTeam status is gaining pace.

Wealthy Jayco businessman Gerry Ryan has been put forward as a possible backer of such a team and now confirms his interest in an interview with The Australian newspaper.

“It is no secret that I've wanted to see an Australian team on the UCI World Tour for the last two or three years," Bannan said yesterday. “An Australian team in the big league of world cycling is long overdue.

Ryan appeared to confirm that he could be involved. “I'm looking at all options. All I can confirm is all will be revealed at a press conference in Adelaide at 3pm on January 17 at the (Santos) Tour Down Under,” he stated from his rural farm in Victoria.

This ties in with Bannan’s indications that he will give an announcement in mid January about his future plans.

Ryan later expanded on the issue with Rupert Guinness of the Sydney Morning Herald, "It's not only me. There are several high-profile businessmen around that have been talking to each other,” he said. “To be sitting in Paris and have that Australian flag on a team car [in the Tour] would be an ideal situation.”

Ryan has an estimated personal wealth of $180 million and has a history of putting money into Australian cycling. He has backed the Herald Sun Tour, the Classic Bay Series, plus the Jayco-Skins talent development team, and he is listed as a major partner of Cycling Australia. His name has been linked for several months to whispers about a ProTeam licence bid, as has that of Bannan and former professional Neil Stephens.

Fellow Australian Chris White was unsuccessful in a bid this year to secure a ProTeam licence for 2011, but it is thought it is possible he will apply again in 2012.

Ryan confirmed to The Australian that he had been keeping tabs on White’s team plus another setup aiming for a ProTeam licence.

“I've looked at Pegasus Project and the Melbourne-based Australian Road Cycling projects, and sadly, for one reason or another, they never materialised.”

Whichever team ultimately gets the nod from the UCI, if it is supported by Australia’s current professionals, it could be a highly successful setup. Richie Porte, Jack Bobridge, Cameron Meyer and Michael Matthews are some of the brightest young talents in the sport, while Michael Rogers, Heinrich Haussler, Simon Gerrans and Mark Renshaw are just some of a very solid corps of older riders. Veterans Robbie McEwen and Stuart O’Grady are currently racing, although they could retire before becoming part of such a team.

The country has a very considerable strength in depth and if the riders support one of the ProTeam bids, that team could have a very bright future indeed.

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