Gerry Ryan, the owner of the GreenEdge cycling teams, has confirmed he will directly help to fund the women's and under-23 Continental teams for 2018 as the search continues for a title sponsor for all three GreenEdge teams, including the Orica-Scott men's WorldTour squad.
Orica announced that it would it end its title sponsorship after the 2017 season. Scott agreed to a three-year title sponsorship that started this season, but a replacement for Orica has still to be secured. Cyclingnews understands that Ryan and his companies will also cover any budget shortfall for the men's WorldTour team in 2018 and 2019.
The team will continue to have Esteban Chaves, Adam and Simon Yates and Paris-Roubaix winner Mat Hayman as team leaders. The Australian team has also signed Mikel Nieve from Team Sky, Matteo Trentin and Jack Bauer from Quick-Step Floors, and Cameron Meyer.
Ryan's decision to fund the Mitchelton-Scott men's Continental team and the women's Orica-Scott team comes after riders and staff were notified by Cycling Australia that its contribution to the two programs would no longer continue after the conclusion of this season. The futures of the High5 Dream Team and the Australian High5 National Development team are also at risk.
Cycling Australia is currently undergoing a shake-up after disappointing results at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the appointment of Britain's Simon Jones as head of High Performance.
Last week Jones sparked controversy after choosing to select just five women for the World Championships, citing tactical and performance reasons. Riders missing out on a place in Norway included Australia's top-ranked rider this year, Chloe Hosking (Ale Cipollini), who plans to appeal the decision. Four of the five riders selected are from the Orica-Scott women's team.
"We have a lot to be thankful for with Gerry," Shayne Bannan, general manager of the GreenEdge teams, said in a statement confirming Ryan's support.
"It's no secret that Orica, who have served us so well as the biggest Australian sporting team sponsorship over the past five years, leave us this year. We are still on the hunt for a replacement naming rights sponsor across all three teams, and without that, the guarantee Gerry has made to these women and young men is a direct commitment from him personally.
"For riders, it has provided security for another season, and for us as an organisation, it has allowed us to plan ahead whilst we continue to search for a new corporate sponsor. It means we can continue to deliver results and a product that is a desirable and beneficial investment."
Successful 2017 season
The Orica-Scott women's team has enjoyed one of its most successful seasons to date this year, with 18 victories and 7 WorldTour wins as women's cycling continues to attract a bigger following. The Mitchelton-Scott Continental team is the top ranked Oceania Tour team and has won six races, with several riders expected to step up to WorldTour level in 2018.
"Our women's team is one of our shining lights this year. They are delivering top results in the biggest races, Annemiek van Vleuten currently ranks number one in the world and riders like Sarah Roy have really stepped up this season," Ryan said in an announcement of his backing.
"The same can be said for our young Continental team. In the first year of operation, they are really stepping up to the plate and showing us their potential for not only now, but in the future. The decision of others is out of our hands but we believe they deserve our support, and a lot more.
"We have managed to secure some major talent for next season already and we are looking forward to sharing those with you in the near future."