Avanti IsoWhey Sports lose Avanti as co-naming rights sponsor

Top Australian NRS team searching for new sponsors

Australian Continental team Avanti IsoWhey Sports will continue in 2017 but will do so without Avanti as its title sponsor. The top National Road Series (NRS) team over the last six years have also been the premier development team over the last decade, sending the likes of Richie Porte, Jack Haig and Paddy Bevin to the WorldTour with Chris Hamilton and Ben O'Connor the latest riders to go WorldTour from the Tasmanian team.

The team changed its name from Huon Salmon-Genesys Wealth Advisers to Avanti from the 2014 season once the bike brand came on board as its new naming rights sponsor. The team name for 2017 will include IsoWhey Sports, with its full title dependent on securing new sponsors.

"We are going to be around, but what size we don't know at the moment," team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston told Cyclingnews. "We've lost Avanti as a naming rights sponsor but IsoWhey Sports are still on-board as a naming rights sponsor. So we are searching to replace Avanti's share of it. We've found some smaller sponsors at this stage to come on board to support that and we are waiting on a few meetings over the next week or so to confirm if we can replace the lot.

"We will be around as a Conti team next year, we might just be slightly smaller in team size and with a little bit less of a budget."

While the team has been the most consistent of the Australian domestic squads in recent years, the current state of flux in the NRS was one of the reasons for Avanti to withdraw its naming rights sponsorship as Christie-Johnston explained.

"It was a while ago, they gave us good notice but basically the state of the NRS was one of the major things," Christie-Johnston said. "They thought there wasn't enough value in it and that was one of the things that was mentioned. We've had a great relationship with Avanti for a long period time, even before it was Avanti it was Malvern Star and at the end of the day there are no sponsors who will stay around forever. They decided they didn't have it in their budget to assist the team as a naming rights sponsor. They still want to be involved as a bike sponsor, it's not like they totally want to withdraw from it but I would say it's a monetary reason more than anything."

Christie-Johnson added the team roster will shrink next season due to the reduced budget but is aiming to ensure the team won't be forced to also cut its racing days in 2017.

"I don't think we'll have as many riders on next year. We are still intending to do the same race calendar but with less riders, more condensed to save money, but it's hard to budget exactly what you need every year because we still haven't seen what a NRS 2017 calendar is at this stage and out Conti license, we have to start doing the paperwork and one of those things is to work out a budget," he added. "We'll go ahead and start by getting for the races we know we want to do overseas and we'll have to see where we sit with the budget for the NRS once that calendar gets released."

Along with winning the NRS team prize in 2016, Avanti IsoWhey Sports also enjoyed a successful racing programme in Asia and Europe that included overall Tour de Taiwan victory and stage wins at the Tour of Japan and Tour of China II. While the team is unlikely to get a start at January's Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in 2017 due to its new WorldTour status, the team will replicate its early-season racing programme from the past few seasons.

"For us, it will be nationals, Sun Tour and the New Zealand Cycling Classic, which is our general beginning to the year, and then from there we'll go into out UCI racing in Asia that we always target," he said. "We will go and do a block in Europe again, not sure exactly how many months, but we enjoyed our time over there, and support the NRS as best we can when we know what the calendar is."

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