Endura Racing are having their most successful season to date thanks to the exploits of Jonathan Tiernan-Locke at the Tour Méditerranéen and Haut Var, but behind the scenes the team is facing up to a number of challenges.
WorldTour teams are swarming around the British pro, who only has a contract for this year, while the team's long term future is in need of investment if it's to move from the Continental ranks to the higher tier of Pro Continental.
At present team director Jim McFarlane is unable to confirm Endura's plans for 2013. The team are at the Continental level and aggressively pursue invites into UCI 2.1 races. However, without sustained and improved finances for the future, McFarlane admitted that the team may cease to exist if supplementary funding isn't gained.
"It's a critical year for Endura racing because we're looking to go ProContinental and John is an important part of our progression," McFarlane told Cyclingnews.
"We'd like to see Endura in 2013 as a ProContinental team that can deliver riders to the WorldTour to pick up. There's a good niche and position to be occupied by a team at that level rather than just being a continental team. For us as a team it will either progress or there's not much point in existing as a domestic team.
"We struggle to get into some 2.1 races because we're Continental. If we don't get into them there's not much point in doing the Premier Calendar and some 2.2 races. We have progressed each year and we're at the upper end of what we can do as a Continental team. Endura is paying a little over a million a year now."
Tiernan-Locke could be influential in helping to secure additional funding, however the team management have admitted that the lure of a WorldTour opportunity would be something they'd help Tiernan-Locke secure. According to McFarlane, Tiernan-Locke is set on riding for a top team in 2013 and Cyclingnews understands that there are already several enquiries from current WorldTour squads.
However, McFarlane is concerned that speculation and the behaviour of certain teams may add unwanted pressures and distractions to both Tiernan-Locke and the team's search for additional sponsorship.
"The season has started and it's disruptive to have a lot of speculation and distraction, but what we've had at the moment is Dave Brailsford individually ignoring normal protocol," McFarlane told Cyclingnews.
According to McFarlane, Sky's Brailsford originally logged an enquiry with Brian Smith at Endura, who told the Sky boss that his rider would not be available mid-season. Cyclingnews understands from a separate source that Brailsford was not aware of the rider's agent and therefore went through other channels.
However, McFarlane alleged that Brailsford had contacted the rider via text and phone and invited him to Manchester. Sky would not comment when Cyclingnews contacted them and typically do not make comments regarding riders with existing contracts.
"We're not trying to hold Jon back. He'll have a line of WorldTour teams looking at him already," McFarlane said.
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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