Green Edge states it has Tour de France and Giro participation guarantees
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Monday, August 01, 2011

Green Edge states it has Tour de France and Giro participation guarantees

by Shane Stokes at 9:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Claims O’Grady signing, but rider says no contract has been finalised

GreenEdgeGreenEdge had a team bus and cars at the Tour de France this year, hovering close to the bubble of the official vehicles in order to show its presence, but next season the squad believes firmly it will be a bona fide part of the race.

Chief financial backer Gerry Ryan has claimed that the team has got a green light for 2012. If so, this would put the team in the race, whether or not it gets a UCI WorldTour licence.

“We've already been given assurances by ASO, the owners of the Tour de France, that we will be on the start line next July as well as the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California,” he told The Australian newspaper.

Even so, the team is continuing to work towards getting the top rank licence. It has long stated that one of its goals is to be Australia’s first WorldTour team and has been planning for some time towards getting the application ready. According to directeur sportif Neil Stephens, things have been progressing well; Ryan also says that things are building.

“The bank guarantees with the UCI are in place and we continue to talk with corporate Australia to get behind this project,” he stated. “Our aim is to have a squad of 28 riders, 80 per cent of which will be home-grown, with the rest made up of Europeans.”

Ryan added that the team should be in place prior to the Santos Tour Down Under in January, and that there would also be an Australian women’s team in Europe next year.

With the August 1st UCI deadline now passed, the team is now in a position to start naming the riders that it has signed. His goal of 80% Australians means that there’s going to be an obvious wishlist, and in recent days two veteran riders have been said to be involved with the project.

For now. neither have confirmed reports that they are on board. The first, Robbie McEwen, has said that he hasn’t signed any deals as yet. The second is Stuart O’Grady; Ryan told The Australian that the former Tour de France Maillot Jaune and Paris-Roubaix winner is set to move after just one year with the Leopard Trek setup. He’d therefore end a long association with riders such as the Schleck brothers and Fabian Cancellara.

“Stuey has wanted to be a part of this project since we first went public with wanting to put a team at the Tour de France, back in Adelaide last January,” he stated. “We'll be rolling out more big-name signings in the days and weeks ahead.”

However, despite what seems to be a very clear message of confirmation from Ryan, O’Grady has moved to play down the reports. “Just for the record, I have NOT SIGNED any contracts,” he said Monday on his Twitter account. “Don’t believe everything you read.”

That doesn’t rule out verbal agreements, though; the near future will bring official confirmation of who is on board, and reveal more about the look of the new squad.

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