Jonathan Vaughters has reacted to speculation linking a number of his riders and staff with the new Australian team reportedly being created by Shane Bannan for 2012, saying he would consider taking legal action against Bannan if there were a premature move for his staff outside of cycling's transfer window.
The new Australian team is reportedly set to be called GreenEdge Cycling and hopes to be the first Australian team to obtain ProTeam status and ride the Tour de France in 2012. The project is set to be presented on Monday at the Tour Down Under with theage.com.au reporting that Jayco owner Gerry Ryan is the team's key backer, with Bannan, who recently quit his position as Australia National Performance Director, charged with building the team.
Garmin-Cervelo riders Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge and directeur sportif Matt White have all been linked the team with the trio’s contracts set to expire on December 31, 2011.
Vaughters, who employed White in 2008 in his first role as a directeur sportif, and who gave Bobridge and Meyer their first professional contracts, told Cyclingnews that he would consider legal action if Bannan made a move for any of his riders before August 1 – a compulsory date that all teams are required to respect under UCI ProTeam rules.
“While I understand that the strong national pride of Australians and understand the desire to have a team of their own, if any employment discussions of any sort occur with any of our riders outside of the mandated transfer time then we will pursue the appropriate legal action,” Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
Vaughters admits he understands that the prospect of riding for an Australian team, or in White’s case, managing one, could be too good an opportunity to miss.
“Matt is quite the patriot and has a long standing relationship with Shayne Bannan, it would not surprise me if he wanted to be part of the project. I would be hurt if Matt, Jack or Cam left the team. Absolutely. Remember it’s me who noticed Cam first and brought him to Whitey’s attention, not the other way around.”
Vaughters, who signed the majority of Cervelo TestTeam classics riders and world champion Thor Hushovd in the winter and rebuilt his international squad from the ground up, is adamant that Australian riders and staff can thrive under his wing.
“I don’t discuss individual negotiations, but I will do my best to grow the team into a better entity,” he said.
Yet the American is aware of how much national identity can play a part in cycling and transfer signings. Despite helping to mould Bradley Wiggins into a Tour rider, the Briton left the team to join Team Sky in what was one of the most drawn out, yet lucrative transfers in modern day cycling.
“I expect them all to be 100 per cent loyal and live up the every aspect of their contracts," Vaughters said. "If they leave at the appropriate moment, then that’s their decision. I think our main organisation is pretty damn attractive too. Even if you are an Australian.”
Regardless of whether the Australians join Bannan, Vaughters is adamant that he can steady the ship and continue to build in the success Garmin have already produced.
“At the end of the day, Garmin-Cervelo will be one of the best teams in the world for a long time to come. No one person is absolutely needed for that to happen. Not me. Not anybody.”