The North American peloton* will be undergoing some major changes after the 2008 season. The potential loss of two big teams could produce a sea change of sorts, flooding the market with top talent. Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski gives a 'State of the Peloton' report, including who is staying, who could be going and who might be growing because of it. In part three, he delves into the up and comers and the women's peloton. Also see part one and part two.
Converse to what is happening on the top-end of the team budget spectrum, teams like Jelly Belly continue to pedal away with a secure, long-standing sponsor. Director Danny Van Haute also has been around the block a few times and knows how fortunate he is, especially just having re-upped for another three years. "I told our riders that we are ready to go for the next three years," he said. "Our negotiations are going very well, so well that I think all the major details are done and we just need to sign the contract."
Of course with this news he is quite a popular guy. "My e-mail is quite full... even the spam folder is full! It's unfortunate because we need teams to stay here in the US and get sponsorship. Jelly Belly is a big supporter of cycling, for eight years and now another three. We all need to recognize that these companies like Jelly Belly, Aramark and GT all love cycling."
But like other teams the influx of riders does not mean he has the money to hire additional spots or pay the salaries that some of the big names are earning with their current contracts. "Yeah there are going to be riders available but I don't have a budget like Health Net or Toyota, I have to stay within my budget."
"These riders that are coming available need to understand there are only a few choices," he said. "Every team has their weaknesses and we have ours – can we pick somebody up that will improve our squad next year? I think so. But they need to understand that they aren't likely to make these six figures that they are making now. I applaud them that they can do it but you have to be realistic now.