Corti abandons search for Barloworld replacement

Barloworld team to fold as principal steps away for 2010

Barloworld chief Claudio Corti appeared to put an end to speculation on Saturday that his team will continue in another guise in 2010. With main sponsors Barloworld pulling out of professional cycling at the end of the year, Corti was rumoured to be sizing up potential new backers, but indicated at the World Championships in Mendrisio on Saturday that he had abandoned his efforts to revive the team.

"I've been trying to set something up and had made some progress, but it looks most likely that next year will be a bit of sabbatical for me," Corti said. "There was interest in sponsorship. I certainly could have got a small team off the ground, but I'm not interested in that. When I do something, I want it to be at the highest level."

Recent reports in the Italian press had suggested that two companies with a history of supporting cycling were interested in joining forces with Corti. One of those companies, Caffita, was a co-sponsor of the Lampre team in 2005. The other is the wardrobe accessory manufacturer Servetto, who are currently associated with the struggling Fuji-Servetto outfit. That team is another, like Barloworld, which looks set to disappear at the end of the 2009.

Speaking in Mendrisio today, Corti declined to mention either Servetto or Caffita, but did make it clear that any bid to rescue his team has now ended. "It's not that it's too late. It's more that I don't have the right motivation [to keep looking] at this point. I'm happy taking a year off," Corti said.

Of Barloworld's illustrious current riders, several have already secured contracts for 2010. John-Lee Augustyn, Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome and Steve Cummings will all ride for the newly-formed Team Sky, while 2007 Tour de France King of the Mountains Mauricio Soler has signed for Caisse d'Epargne. Another rider who excelled in the 2007 Tour, sprinter Robbie Hunter, has penned a deal to race for Garmin-Slipstream.

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