High Road's Aussies optimistic

Just two days after getting the news that their team's title sponsor had pulled out, Australian riders Adam Hansen and Katherine Bates expressed an upbeat faith in manager Bob Stapleton and in the sport as a whole. Hansen and Bates just completed their first year on the team only to learn of the organisation's woes this week.

"(The team) got an email just before one o'clock in the morning (on Wednesday)," Hansen told Fox Sports. "It was something we all thought could happen." Hansen understood why the sponsor Deutsche Telekom decided to pull out. "We understand the position they were in, and we can't really think too bad of them. T-Mobile have done a lot for cycling so you can't really be angry with them."

Hansen does see problems for the squad going forward now that they won't be wearing the familiar magenta kit with the Adidas stripes. "In Europe everyone knows T-Mobile as a cycling team. It was an honour to race for that team and we do lose that, which is sad. Every kid cyclist wants to ride for T-Mobile but now it's a new name and it won't have that impact. Also, when you wear the T-Mobile jersey - you get a lot of respect from the other (cyclists) and I don't know if we'll still have that next year."

Both Hansen and Bates see the sport going forward with a new attitude, one which is being fostered by their team. "The sport is cleaning up a lot. You can see a lot of riders that are racing clean this year, so I think it's on its way and it's good we have people like (team owner) Bob Stapleton, who's trying to do everything to help the sport," said Hansen. "The other teams are starting to have strict anti-doping programs, like the new Astana team – if we had more teams like that I think we would continue to improve."

"I think it's a new era," Bates, a World Champion track racer, told the Associated Press. "Maybe in order to get rid of the past you've also got to get rid of a lot of the connotations that go with that.

Bates, who will wear her magenta kit in the upcoming Sydney track World Cup, thinks the sport is bigger than the controversies which has plagued it in recent years. "I think there's always scandals but at the end of the day the Tour de France is the biggest sporting event in the world.

"Nobody standing on the side (of the road) cares about anything except the bike riders going past. As a sponsor you'd be nuts not to get involved with that, wouldn't you? And if you look at it from that point of view and you're committed to the anti-doping side, there's really a very, very bright future for the sport."

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