Michael Ball's Rock Racing will contest this year's Tour of Georgia, after the clothing company owner settled out of court yesterday with event organiser Medallist Sports. Ball's team will take the position left vacant by Saunier Duval-Scott, which announced today it would skip the American stage race following the depletion of its squad due to injuries in recent races.
Ironically, Saunier Duval-Scott's announcement came on the same day that Rock Racing and Tour de Georgia organiser Medalist Sports were in Georgia Superior court, with Rock Racking seeking an injunction against the race over a reported alleged verbal agreement the team had with Medalist over its entry.
"Professional cycling fans will get their wish after all: Rock Racing will be a part of the 2008 Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T after reaching a settlement with race organiser, Medalist Sports, LLC," read a release from the team.
A hearing into Rock Racing's case had been scheduled for yesterday, however Ball and Medallist Sports settled out of court. "The fans told us they wanted us to be there," said Ball. "We are pleased that we were able to work with Medalist to come to a mutually beneficial decision. Now the race will truly field the best of the best of international and domestic pro cycling teams which will only build on the momentum created for domestic cycling at the Tour of California."
Rock Racing had a rough entry into the Tour of California earlier this year, with a series of press conferences and meetings with event owner AEG creating a state of confusion over the team's entry. The squad eventually started the event with five of its eight riders, with the organiser refusing to allow Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla start the event as they are alleged to have involvement in the recently re-opened Operación Puerto doping investigation in Spain.
Botero could be a part of Rock Racing's squad at the six-day, 660-mile Tour of Georgia after his impressive ride saw him win the Redlands Bicycle Classic by 54 seconds.
"The team is ready to race," said Ball. "Santiago Botero's win and the team's performance at Redlands is a clear indication of what to expect next week in Georgia."