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Leopard Trek financial backer Flavio Becca talks to directeur sportif Kim Andersen
New RadioShack team will have "nothing American"
Speaking to reporters from RTL Télé Luxembourg, Leopard Trek team owner Flavio Becca confirmed today that the current team manager Bryan Nygaard will be leaving the team immediately.
Nygaard is rumored to be joining the new GreenEdge team as its press agent now that Leopard Trek and RadioShack have announced that the latter's sponsors and some riders and staff will move to Becca's team and the American squad will cease to exist.
While many in the cycling world have called the changes to Leopard Trek and RadioShack a merger, Becca spoke as if his team has taken over the American squad. He insisted that the team will be Luxembourgish and that Leopard, the company that owns the current Leopard Trek team, will continue as license holders.
"The name Leopard will be kept. The company will continue to be based in Luxembourg and will operate from Luxembourg," Becca said.
Despite the acquisition of general manager Johan Bruyneel and title sponsors RadioShack and Nissan in addition to Trek, Becca said, "I can confirm that there is nothing American in this team, apart from the two sponsors."
The license holders of the soon-to-be-former RadioShack operation, CSE Pro Cycling LLC, will continue running the team's marketing operations, but Becca said that CSE "wasn't interested in continuing" as license holders.
"We knew that they would not ask for another license on the 1st of January 2012. Therefore, we first saw the opportunity to take a new sponsor on board and secondly to put together a stronger team.
CSE is owned by Bart Knaggs and Bill Stapleton, formerly of Tailwind Sports, the owners of the Discovery Channel team and long-time partners with Lance Armstrong, which gave up on the sponsorship hunt in 2007 leaving that organisation to history.
Some of the riders of the American RadioShack team have been confirmed with the new organisation: Chris Horner, Andreas Klöden, Matthew Busche, Jani Brajkovic, Nelson Oliveira and Robert Wagner, Jesse Sergent and Ben King, but combined with the Leopard Trek riders still under contract, Becca said the spots are limited.
"The rules of the UCI state that you can have 30 cyclists in one team. Two of them have to be neo-pro," Becca said. Of the 25 riders on the roster, five had one-year contracts. Becca said he could hire the remaining 10 spots right away, but did not comment on the transfers from the American team.
With eight transfers already confirmed by RadioShack, that leaves just the two neo-pro spots if all of the Leopard Trek riders currently under contract for 2012 remain.
"I seized this opportunity to make out of the current Leopard structure an even stronger team for the future," Becca said. "I am very satisfied,"