By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The Colavita-Sutter Home men's team will enter the 2007 season with a lot of changes in personnel - both in terms of riders and the leadership. Only a few riders from the 2006 team will return this season; most notably not among them is veteran captain Mark McCormack; along with his brother and director sportif Frank McCormack. Tom Schuler told Cyclingnews that he will take over directing duties full-time, at least for the first half of the season. "I am going to direct at California," Schuler said. "Somewhere through the year we are going to get some help. But I am jumping in with both feet!"
Cyclingnewsreported last August, team owner John Profaci contracted with Tom Schuler's company Team Sports to manage the men's team. At the time, Profaci countered rumors that director sportif Frank McCormack's contract would not be renewed. "Frankie is so important to the team and Tom has a lot of respect for him," Profaci said.
However, since that time a lot of changes in the management structure of the team took place. "It's always been me, at my desk," said Profaci about running the team while working for Colavita full-time. "I juggle the business, with sales and marketing, and then the two teams - or ten teams, if you include the regional teams! It was just too much for me." Profaci decided to take a step back after five years. "it slipped a little in 2006 - I don't know if it was a morale or motivational thing, but I needed to take myself out."
Profaci turned to Schuler who the year before had taken over managing the women's team when his Quark sponsorship ran out. "I met Tom and he presented something to me when Quark went away to run our women's team," said Profaci. "It worked out great. I said, 'Can you take the men and do the same job?' I wanted Tom to build a nice legacy like Saturn. But early on I said I don't want a lot of change, I like Frank McCormack and I want consistancy. But Team Sports is going to have to make money now - the team has to bring additional sponsors in."
With that need for additional funding, it appears that the contract negotiations did not produce amicable terms for everyone. "We couldn't come to an agreement on compensation," said Schuler regarding Mark McCormack. "He has two kids so he would probably ride if he got paid enough and not if he didn't."
Mark confirmed this, saying he decided to retire from road racing altogether to pursue other opportunities. "Weighing money with family life and other opportunities made me think about things more. I wasn't willing to go backwards in my earnings, especially to the level that teams were proposing. It was a difficult decision but in reality - I have a family to look after."
Frank McCormack said the fact that Mark was not going to be resigned contributed to his decision. "It was based upon Mark not renewing, for me," he said. "It was an awesome last two-and-a-half years with John [Profaci] and Mark. It was a great experience for me. I'll just keep on with my carpentry work I suppose. I have made a couple of phone calls, and would like to stay in the sport. I love the sport and still have a great passion for it. But at this point I don't have anything organized."
Schuler is definitely not a novice in the role of team director, having successfully managed and occasionally directed the Saturn team as it dominated the US domestic calendar for many years. Schuler was most recently involved with managing the Colavita-Cooking Light women's team and the TargeTraining men's team last year, which called for some directing duties. "I always drive the car a couple times a year, and I directed the guys last year at racesd like crit nats and Elk Grove. I always like to direct a race or two a year since I retired fifteen years ago. I've always enjoyed it."
Look for a full interview with Mark McCormack on Cyclingnews, looking back at his racing career and his plans for the future.