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Vogels keen for a fresh start after rollercoaster three years with Pegasus

By:
Jane Aubrey
Published:
December 22, 2011, 1:17 GMT,
Updated:
December 22, 2011, 1:17 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 22, 2011
Henk Vogels makes a live call in to Australian TV coverage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Henk Vogels makes a live call in to Australian TV coverage of the Amgen Tour of California.

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Directeur Sportif laments sad end to Australian Continental team

Former Pegasus Directeur Sportif Henk Vogels has told Cyclingnews that he is glad to be moving on to another chapter in his career following the demise of the V Australia team he has watched over for the past three years.

Vogels, who joined the Australian continental outfit in 2009 following a 14-year professional career, was told by Pegasus owner and CEO Chris White that his services would not be required for the 2012 season on September 30. Earlier today, Cyclingnews revealed V Australia would be withdrawing its financial backing of the team, forcing its immediate cessation.

"I put my heart and soul into that team for the last three years," Vogels explained. "I'm so excited to be working with a world class team again and move on with my coaching business which is starting to take off."

The "world class team" Vogels speaks of is RusVelo where he will take on the role of assistant DS working with the outfit at training camps and several races in Asia in the lead up to the London Olympic Games alongside head coach Heiko Salzwedel and trainer Victor Popov. His eponymous coaching business is also keeping the 38-year-old busy with ATS-2XU's Joe Lewis, the Tineli Racing Team along with up-and-coming youngster Cameron Bayly on the books. Add to this, Vogels' role with Bike Sports in Brisbane and you realise that this is a man eager for a fresh start.

The highs and lows of a team with big ambitions

White himself called Pegasus a "game changer" in the sport of professional cycling, with an all-encompassing set up that would include a ProTour, Continental, under-23 and women's teams in 2011 that would compete in Europe, North America and Australia.

After months of speculation surrounding sponsorship for the project, by early November 2010 Pegasus Sports' dreams of becoming a ProTeam were shattered when the UCI ranked it 23rd in the race for a ProLicence, meaning the option of a ProConti licence was on the table, but that too failed.

"I knew that things were going bad in November and December [2010] and I stayed around and kept the team together," Vogels revealed of the turbulent weeks where speculation was rife over the financial stability and therefore the future of the outfit.

"I literally stuck by Chris through thick and thin over the last three years, even to the point where I brought in a major sponsor [Fuji Bikes]," he continued.

"I built the team. I was told early on when I signed that certain riders were never going to sign for the team and I pushed and pushed and now they've been the best bike riders on the team for the last three years. They were my boys, I did it for them. For it to end the way it has, it's really sad."

With Pegasus Sports' management scrambling to secure a ProConti licence throughout January, Vogels was attempting to get on with the job, looking after the interests of 28 riders at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships, with no knowledge of what their racing future held.

A roster of 15 riders was salvaged but the 2011 season was run on the sniff of an oily rag. The opportunity for the team to appear at races dwindled and so did the race wins in 2011. V Australia, with a significantly reduced schedule of 145 race days, tallied 25 victories – a comparatively small amount when you consider the team amassed over 250 race wins over the three years of their existence.

"They were a great team, they were super successful ... it's got to be the most out of any Australian team," said Vogels. "I think Genesys [who racked up 41 wins and 56 other podium finishes] this year may have matched what we've done in previous years. In the last two years, we knocked everyone out of the park. It was a great team, a great atmosphere and things were looking on the up [before the ProTour licence was denied]."

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