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Another hammer blow for Australian team as riders ready to leave
Despite missing out on a ProContinental licence for 2011, Chris White and his Pegasus Sports team have vowed to carry on.
White was speaking just hours after the UCI Licence Commission had made its final ruling and although the governing body will not release the details as to why no licence was granted, White is adamant that he will explore all avenues in order to keep the team going.
White had already been knocked back for a ProTeam licence and in recent weeks his major sponsor reportedly pulled out. In the scramble to find a new backer, White appeared to call on the support of existing partners and lower his sights on a Pro Continental status. This would have still given the team invites to major races and placed them among the wildcard candidates for major tours.
White told Cyclingnews last week that the final submission for ProContinental status had been submitted on time – the UCI later backed this up – and stated that all financial documents and assurances had been met.
“We thought that we’d done enough I suppose but we’re looking for what other alternatives are out there for us and what the program can look like in 2011,” White told Cyclingnews this morning.
“I think that it’s a bit too early to say what the future will hold. In terms of our official release there’s not much else to say. We need to let the dust settle and see what it all looks like. We’re hurt and we’re confused right now but at the same time we’re trying to look forward. There’s not a lot of clarity right now but we need to find out what we can and can’t do.”
While White may hope that the dust settles and the air clears he may not be granted another reprieve from his riders. He had already stated publicly and privately that they should begin the search for new teams. The UCI today confirmed to Cyclingnews that contractually White would have no legal clout to block any rider transfer after the first knock back came from the ProTeam submission.
The likes of McEwen, Robbie Hunter, Darly Impey Sergey Klimov, Christian Knees, Trent Lowe, Svein Tuft, Thomas Rohregger, Luke Roberts, Clinton Avery were all racing at ProTour level this season, while Lance Armstrong already posted on the social network site Twitter that he and RadioShack manager Johann Bruyneel were “talking about possibly making some roster additions.” At this stage White is in the dark as to whether any riders have left the team.
Aside from wait for the UCI complete evaluation, White has admitted that he may yet apply for a Continental licence. This would put the team on the third division within the sport – the same help by the former Fly V team that White managed. Such a move would almost certainly mean downsizing.
“One option would be to have a continental team and that’s one option we’re certainly looking at,” he explained. “I don’t think this journey has finished yet. It’s taken us four years to get this far and we’re looking at all avenues to attempt to keep the journey going in order to make 2011 a stepping stone to 2012 and beyond. We’ve not taken our foot off the gas yet.”
The UCI lack of communication in the early stages of the recent verdict has left White puzzled and unsure as to why his team has missed out.
“I’ve not had any advice at all. I wasn’t at the hearing and I’ve had no advice at all from the UCI. So it’s difficult to understand the decision. I signed another contract today that made our financial position even stronger. I’m stunned, I’m surprised, I’m flabbergasted.”
“I know that there’s a lot of interest in what we’ve been doing but it’s a really tough blow. We literally had days to turn around a really difficult situation where a major backer withdrew. I thought we were on the right track.”