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Mitchelton-Scott pull the plug on Manuela Fundación deal

Adam Yates sits behind his Mitchelton-Scott teammates
The Mitchelton-Scott men's WorldTour team (Image credit: Getty Images)

GreenEdge Cycling, the holding company that runs Mitchelton-Scott, has announced that their recently unveiled sponsorship deal with the Manuela Fundación has been called off.

Since the deal was announced last Friday, there has been confusion over what exactly was agreed with the Spanish not-for-profit entity, with representatives from the sponsor claiming that they had taken ownership of the teams while GreenEdge owner Gerry Ryan stated that he was still in charge.

"We felt a strong initial connection with Mr Francisco Huertas, the Manuela Fundación and their noble aims," said Ryan in a team-issued press release.

"However, as the negotiations have evolved after the initial announcement on Friday, we have concluded that the relationship will not proceed. We wish Mr. Francisco Huertas and the Manuela Fundación all of the best for the future."

The largely unknown Manuela Fundación, run by Granada businessman Huertas and his wife Maria Angustias González, was a surprise name to take over sponsorship of the team. The organisation was set to take over title sponsorship for the remainder of the 2020 season, while ensuring the team's future "in 2021 and beyond" according to Ryan last week.

In an interview with Cyclingnews on the same day of the announcement, the manager of the Manuela Fundación's sports department Emilio Rodríguez said that the team would be a Spanish one and hinted that the company would take ownership of the team.

On Wednesday, Ryan told Ride Media that he still owned the team and was negotiating with additional sponsors, adding that the deal with Manuela Fundación had not been finalised. In response, Rodríguez said that he was "surprised" and "frozen" by the comments, adding: "We've come into this team to be owners, not just a sponsor."

As a result of the cancellation of the supposed deal, both Mitchelton-Scott men's and women's teams will return to racing under the Mitchelton-Scott name when the 2020 season resumes in late July.

Ryan will continue to support and fund the team with full wages for riders and staff once competition resumes in August, contrary to previous media reports that suggested the 70 per cent pay cuts would remain for the rest of the year.

"The COVID-19 global crisis has thrown up many new challenges, but our primary focus remains on our world-class athletes and support staff," Ryan said.

"This will include a return to full wages for all riders and staff once WorldTour racing commences in August, and a commitment to the year 2021 as we search for a suitable sponsorship.

"We believe in this team, and the people and culture that have made it so successful these past eight years. Our riders have been inspiring in their commitment and motivation in what has been an uncertain season, and our staff loyal and determined to provide the best service possible in what will be a busy and challenging end to the year. We can't wait to get back on the road and start winning more races."