Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell is standing by her 2010 squad, the former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung outfit, and hopes it will be able to find a sponsor by Wednesday’s International Cycling Union (UCI) deadline. The team has been given a reprieve by the UCI, with the sport’s governing body giving it until Wednesday to secure the funds to ensure its continuation following the shock withdrawal of would-be title sponsor Skyter.
"Obviously it’s a major shock, it wasn’t what I was expecting to wake up to, but they’re doing everything they can, pooling all resources – German sponsors, European sponsors, international sponsors, anything they can get," said Cromwell. "We had to get an extension from the UCI for registration of the team and they’ve been given until Wednesday, so Wednesday is D-day for the team."
Skyter had signed to replace Nürnberger Versicherung next season after the insurance company announced earlier this year it would cease its sponsorship after a 10 year relationship. Cromwell said the team’s management was keeping the riders informed of its progress.
"We’re getting continual updates, so fingers crossed something will pop up," she said.
With heavy-hitting riders like British Olympic Champion Nicole Cooke, former World time trial Champion Amber Neben and Trixi Worrack on the team, Cromwell said management has even asked the riders for any contacts who might be able to save the squad through a sponsorship deal.
"We’re all being optimistic and they’re doing everything they can, even getting an idea if any of us girls have contacts, some of the high-profile girls like Nicole," she said. "We’ll see."
While Cromwell admitted she’s started exploring backup options for 2010 in case the team was forced to close, she stressed that she still hopes the squad will find a sponsor in time to continue as planned. The deal to race for Skyter was Cromwell’s first European contract, having raced in North America with Colavita-Sutter Home this year.
"I’ve definitely put in place some plan-B actions, contacting anyone I can to see if there’s any possibilities, but being so close to the start of a news season, everything is already finalized or people don’t have budgets left, so we will see," she said. "I have a couple of things, I’m lucky in that I always have the backup of the national team.
They’ve always said that they will look after me and my previous team, Colavita, they always said to me if anything happened they’d look after me so it’s nice to know that I have people’s support, then I’m just waiting to hear from one or two other teams.
"So I will at least still be racing but on what scale, that’s the question," she said. "Fingers crossed our team stays."
Skyter is a Luxembourg-based company that purchases, sells and charters yachts of 30 metres in length and up. It created the concept of time-sharing yachts for a specified number of weeks per year. Skyter GmbH is the firm's German branch, based in Fürth, near Nürnberg.