By Les Clarke
A week after it was reported Michael Ball had offered riders only six-month guarantees on their contracts, another former Rock Racing team member has spoken about his experience with the team's owner.
Jeremiah Wiscovitch, who was part of the Rock Racing squad during the 2007 and '08 seasons, told Cyclingnews he was dismissed on what he calls dubious grounds before being denied a part of his contract. The 25-year-old former BMX rider who turned professional with Team Seasilver in 2004 was sacked according to a performance assessment following last year's Tour of Missouri and told he would not be able to keep his De Rosa King 3 training bike, in contravention of a stipulation in his employment agreement.
"About two or three weeks after I completed Tour of Missouri - the only guys who finished Missouri from our team were me and Mike Creed - I got an email saying they were terminating my contract due to performance standards," said Wiscovitch. This came after having had a meeting earlier in the year to address claims made about Wiscovitch's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the team, which he said were "completely way off base".
"I contacted the company human resources department when they sent me my termination letter, and I asked on what grounds was I being terminated - which part of my contract did I violate? She couldn't answer the question," explained Wiscovitch. "She said, 'The only thing I can think of is performance...' I was riding better than 60 or 70 percent of the team at that time, so I didn't know how that could work. I think it's a loophole where they can say you're not performing to standards and they can cut your pay."
This came despite, "80 per cent of the other guys who did the race being re-signed; it didn't make any sense to me," he said.
"I was a team player from the start - whether it was leading out Rashaan Bahati in a sprint or spending 100km on the front for Oscar Sevilla, that's all I ever was," Wiscovitch added. "They said, 'If you do your job as we ask, you'll always have a place with us...' I guess I fell into that and believed him."
Wiscovitch outlined the fact that keeping his training bike was used as an incentive in his contract, although when team management failed to adhere to this clause, Wiscovitch was forced to take legal action. He attended court on January 5 to rectify the situation in relation to the bike, valued at over $8000, and was successful in being paid the amount the machinery was worth, less depreciation.
Ball spoke to Cyclingnews exclusively yesterday to address the rumours surrounding the team and its future. Click here to see the full interview.