Financial backer Gerry Ryan confirms lack of Australian support
GreenEdge passed another important milestone on the first of this month with the project lodging the file with the original bank guarantee for 25 per cent of the team's staffing fund requirements and the provisional list of riders and staff members, plus 15,000 Swiss francs to the UCI. However, it appears as though if successful in securing a ProTour licence, the team will be riding its first year under the GreenEdge banner alone.
With GreenEdge principle backer Gerry Ryan also a key figure in sponsoring this week's Jayco Herald Sun Tour in the state of Victoria, Australia, as he has for well over a decade, Shayne Bannan was joined by Ryan at the Inner Spin pre-event luncheon to discuss the race and the project's progress.
It was pointed out that GreenEdge had to wait 504 hours until being informed by the UCI whether they would be ProTour in 2012 and also that Ryan had his 'backside hanging out' if additional financial support was not secured. The financier has reportedly backed the project to the tune of $60million, however Ryan denied the figure without putting an exact number on it.
"We haven't had a great deal of support from Australia but we are very close to a couple of Chinese companies," Ryan confirmed. "What we're trying to do, it's about a partnership, not a sponsorship. And what we want to try and do is get the sponsor, the partner to fit into the culture that we've developed.
"I'm not concerned but my son Andrew whose role is sponsorship, has the greatest incentive to go out there and make it happen because it's his inheritance that I'm spending."
Ryan is one of Australia's wealthiest men and is reported to be worth $180million.
While Australia has weathered the recent financial crisis comparatively well, thanks mostly to investments in the mining industry, there are still very few multinational companies that can realistically spend around $10million per year, sponsoring any type of sporting outfit. Despite this, if an Australian company were to jump on board with GreenEdge, there would undoubtedly be a better time given the success the nation has had on the world cycling stage in 2011.
It was no mistake that the audience at today's function, mostly from Melbourne's business community, was replayed images from Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France, and Tina Arena singing Advance Australia Fair on the Champs Elysees in Paris - despite the fact that Evans is Australia's highest profile cyclist, he will not be riding for GreenEdge in the immediate future.
Bannan, as GreenEdge's general manager, was not concerned about the lack of sponsorship dollars that have come his way when speaking to Cyclingnews.
"There's a couple of ways of looking at it," he said. "We probably haven't been as aggressive as we could be in that area because we're in two minds. We really want to look at our GreenEdge branding and develop the brand, develop the team which puts us in a lot better situation to find a partner.
"We don't want to be desperate and go and knock on everyone's doors. Gerry, in his generosity, is really keen to develop the brand, develop the team which I think will put us in a good situation this time next year."