Lack of race invitations, problems with Vandenbroucke add to the team's woes
The Mitsubishi-Jartazi team will search for an additional secondary sponsor at the end of the season. The team is hoping to elevate its status after the UCI decided to grant the team a 'wild-card' status, which would allow them to compete in ProTour events, long as the team did not start Frank Vandenbroucke.
Team manager Patrik Stallaert expressed his frustrations on Thursday, after the team was left off of the ASO's invitations for the upcoming Classics. He has also not heard from Vandenbroucke, who is in Italy. "I assume that he is continuing to work on his condition," Stallaert told the belga. "I haven't heard from him for a while."
The controversial Belgian rider had returned to Italy to be near his daughter from his failed second marriage. "I have respect for his family situation, but he is an employee, just like every other rider at the Mitsubishi-Jartazi team. He is paid to work and in his case that means riding races. I hope that we can see him racing again in April. We have shown a lot of patience, but that will end sometime," Stallaert concluded.
Another rider is preparing for his first race with the team. Australian Alan Davis, who was signed last week, will make his debut with the Estonian-registered Professional Continental team Saturday in the E3 Prijs Harelbeke. "The administrative paperwork is finally all in order. We can use Allan Davis at last. That will be the case on Saturday," Stallaert said.
Stallaert will now have to add finding a new secondary sponsor to his list of tasks for the season. Sportswear producer Jartazi will continue to provide clothing for the team, but Stallaert wishes to find another company which can help his bottom line.
"I will go in search of a second sponsor for my team in place of the current one, Jartazi," he said. "Our budget is two million euro right now. With a new sponsor perhaps we can increase that."
He said that part of the problem lay with the team's troubles with the UCI. "We invested a lot of money in the team in order to get a UCI wildcard, which would allow us to ride ProTour races. We got the right to do that, as a Professional Continental team, but apparently we can't use Frank Vandenbroucke in any of those races," said Stallaert. "It is a riddle to me as to why, because our rider has a valid license from the UCI. There are other so-called 'doping sinners' who may still race."
Stallaert continued, "It is too bad that the ASO decided to keep us out of races such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Fléche Wallonne. Those are Belgian races and therefore important advertising for us. It is difficult to make a proposal to a sponsor when you don't know what you can offer. That doesn't work anywhere." He added, "Negotiations with a new sponsor are underway, but not yet concrete."