By Les Clarke
After a challenging 2005, former Barloworld pro Sean Sullivan was faced with another hurdle going into the new year - finding another team to ride for. After a change in Team Barloworld management, the Australian rider was told in December last year that his contract, signed just two months earlier in October, was void. Sullivan told Cyclingnews recently, that, "I signed a contract at the start of October, and I was happy with how everything was going; I then heard some murmurings from other riders and staff. I had to chase these up at the beginning of December and basically they said that my contract was void and I was out of the team."
It's a huge blow for the talented Tasmanian, and although he's been bothered by injuries over the last couple of seasons, many believe he still has the potential to perform in Europe. Barloworld's new management obviously didn't share this sentiment, something that disappoints the 27-year-old. "I'm just disappointed with how it worked out, and the fact that I had a signed contract and when the team changed management they cancelled the contracts. There are a few other guys in the same situtation, and to be left without a team in December it's a big blow."
In the immediate future, however, Sullivan is looking ahead to the Australian national road titles and the Tour Down Under, two of Australia's biggest road events. "I've just been training at the moment, getting ready for nationals and the Tour Down Under. I haven't seen the circuit for the nationals, and I guess we'll just see how it goes on the day." And his plans for the rest of 2006? "I'm not sure at the moment - I'm still teamless. I'm talking to Konica-Minolta, another South African team, and I'll try racing with them for a while and get back into a top-level team."
But with fellow Tasmanian Karl Menzies heading from the smaller Advantage Benefits-Endeavour squad to the NRC champions Health Net presented by Maxxis, it's possible that Sullivan can do the same and revive what could be a lean 2006. "I'd definitely consider heading to the States like Karl Menzies - chase up some teams and head over there. But like I said, it's hard to do that in December!" Good performances during January would do his chances of finding a team no harm at all, something he's well aware of, saying, "At the Tour Down Under I'd love to get in a break and do something there - get some results which should help get a contract again."