Miss World Australian entrant Ashleigh Francis meets the Fly V Australia team after stage one in Sanya.
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Team maintains faith in long-term vision
Following the announcement that the UCI would not be considering Pegasus Racing for a ProTeam licence in 2011, the team has stated it will seek Professional Continental status for next season.
According to criteria used by the sport's governing body in determining which teams would be issued a ProTeam licence, Pegasus was ranked outside the top 20 squads being considered - at 23rd in the standings, a permit to race in the ProTour was out of the question.
The news scuttled Pegasus Sports CEO Chris White's hopes of becoming the first Australian ProTour outfit - for another year, at least - and with signings such as Robbie McEwen, Robbie Hunter, Svein Tuft and Luke Roberts, the squad will now be forced to rely on invitations to the year's biggest races.
"We were officially informed by the UCI today that we are not among the top 20 ranked teams, which means that we will be a Pro Continental team for 2011," said White in a press statement.
"It was certainly our goal to be a ProTeam in 2011, and we are a little disappointed, but we accept the decision of the UCI. It was just a matter of sporting criteria, and other teams being ranked more highly than us.
"From a competition perspective, this does not change things significantly, and we will still participate at the highest level of cycling and plan to be in the biggest races in the world."
Hitherto Garmin-Transitions rider Hunter told Cyclingnews last week that racing for Pegasus without a ProTour licence wouldn't hinder the Australian team's progress in its development. "We're waiting for the ProTour license decision but I won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen for 2011. I always want to ride the Tour de France but if I have to skip it next year because we're building a good project for the future, I'm ok with it."
Like Hunter, White isn't deterred by this latest development during a period in which he is scheduled to announce a headline sponsor for the 2011 season. "We had hoped to start in the top division, but we always knew this would be difficult to achieve as a first time applicant," he said.
"There are actually some benefits to us starting as a Pro Continental team; getting a year under our belt in Europe, and then hopefully moving up to ProTeam level the following year. Other teams have successfully used this formula, and we see no reason that we can't do the same.
"We are in contact with several major race organisers and we are confident that we will have a great program next year and that we will achieve great things. We are also convinced of the additional value we offer in terms of our vision for the modernisation of cycling and our contribution to globalising cycling."