New Zealand's national cycling federation BikeNZ has come to the rescue of the financially hamstrung PureBlack Racing team, with the two organisations forming a partnership that will see the team able to continue in 2012.
PureBlack Racing had ambitious plans for its future in the sport, telling Cyclingnews early last year that the team hoped to launch a ProConti or WorldTour team by 2015. Those ambitions were dismantled however in December of last year when finances dried up, and a difficult domestic economic environment proved debilitating to the team's future.
"The impact of the Rugby World Cup and the Christchurch disaster have made it a really tough year to raise funding for emerging sports like cycling and international programmes like PureBlack Racing," said Greg Cross when he reported on a grim future for the team late last year.
But after nearly two months of negotiations, BikeNZ have come to the rescue, with both organisations hoping this fresh partnership will breathe new life into the team. The team will race as a national squad, giving it eligibility at key races such as the Tour de Langkawi to which they've been invited. The full calendar is yet to be decided.
BikeNZ's Kieran Turner felt that it would be too big a loss to allow Pure Black to fold, and added there were significant synergies to be taken advantage of by the exisiting national team set up.
"PureBlack Racing has done a great job of promoting cycling, both in New Zealand and internationally and has proven they have the talent, management and technical expertise required to support an international cycling team. We have too few teams like PureBlack and Subway Pro Cycling and cannot afford to lose these expertise."
Turner explained that the use of facilities and a shared calendar made it a natural extension to create a partnership that could benefit both parties.
"We're absolutely delighted to have found a way for the team to race internationally this year," PureBlack spokseman Greg Cross added. "Many of the PureBlack Racing riders from 2011 have already committed to riding again this year. This new partnership provides valuable momentum as we continue to work towards our ambitious goal of achieving ProContinental status."
Elite Road Champion James Williamson is set to be a part of the squad as is Roman Van Uden. Current BikeNZ riders will be able to ride with the combined squad on a race by race basis.
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