The team which has been known as the Toyota-United Pro squad for the past three years is still seeking a replacement sponsor for the automobile company, which announced it would not continue its support back in May.
Team manager Sean Tucker informed his riders, staff and management Friday that, although there were ongoing discussions with two potential title sponsors, the team would not be able to have a contract signed within the UCI team license registration deadline for Pro Continental status in order to keep this specific group of riders together for the 2009 season.
In effect, this means that the team as it has been known for three years in name, and the current composition of riders, staff and management will cease to exist as of December 31, 2008. "Although, most of our riders are under contract until December 31, 2008 and we are not obligated to release them prior to this date, we have decided that ... we do not want to put the riders in a position of not being able to obtain employment in the event our sponsorship contract is not ultimately signed," said Tucker.
He does think the team will secure a sponsor in time to gain a UCI Continental team license by November, but did not want to put riders in a "bad spot".
"It's truly a pity that we were not able to get a contract signed in time to keep our family together going forward, even though we have a couple of sponsors who can potentially sign in the coming months," continued Tucker.
"Today I was forced to tell my riders that although I have money burning a hole in my pocket to support the team and we have contractual commitments from many of our current sponsors for 2009, we cannot give them a job because they are either too old, or we don't have enough time to sign our new sponsor by the imposed UCI deadline to become either a Continental or Pro Continental team in 2009," continued Tucker.
Toyota-United was the winningest team in the United States, racking up 155 victories over the its three seasons. This year alone, the squad took 59 wins and 132 podiums. "If our team continues, we will certainly have some significant changes due to the new UCI rules. We are looking forward to securing a new partner for the 2009 season by the end of November who can benefit from and build their brand by being associated with our world class organization.