Amber Neben is facing an uncertain future, as her former Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung is still struggling to find sponsorship for 2010. The former World Champion indicated that she would ride the first half of the year with the team, before possibly racing on her own in the US or with the national team.
Neben, 34, told Cyclingnews that she didn't expect the team to find a new sponsor. “I think it is too late now. I have been waiting, but nothing has developed yet. I think there is a much better chance for 2011. However, I do not have much hope for now.”
It's too bad, she said. “We had a good group assembled.”
The American rider has now “decided to take a more creative approach. I will use it as an opportunity to bring some new physical and mental racing stimuli into the first six months of the season. As my husband said, it is a chance to rotate the crops.”
Her plans at the moment are to do some limited racing with the former Nürnberger team, now called Team Cycling Noris, in the first half of the year.
After that, she will sit down to consider the situation, and what to do the second half of the season. “I will probably spend it racing with the National Team. Nothing is finalised, though. I would enjoy the chance to race with the American team, however, I'm not sure what their calendar will look like, so it may be necessary to stay associated with the former Nürnberg team.”
The advantage of staying with Noris is that it would probably operate “as a bare bones group just to get the riders to races, so regardless of how much I do with them, it opens the door for me to seek out a sponsor (or sponsors) to do some alternative racing in the States.”
Those are the plans, but Neben knows she must also figure out how to realise them. “I think I am close to settling on a schedule that I am happy with. Now, I just have to figure out how to find the sponsorship dollars to make it happen. Again, nothing is finalised. I am still working things out.”
Her first reaction in early December on hearing the news that the new sponsorship deal had fallen through was shock and disappointment. Her second reaction “was to look for opportunity in the adversity. My faith is my solid foundation, so I am grounded when it comes to dealing with the storms or uncertainties that life throws at me,” she continued.
Continuing to look for the bright side, Neben said, “I have done the same spring racing block for five years in a row, and I think it might be good to change things up. I think it may be a blessing in disguise. In addition, I also hope that it will open the door to some new relationships and sponsors. I have some freedom, so I am looking and listening.”
In the meantime, Neben is, of course, continuing to train. “However, stress is stress and this has definitely added to my off-the-bike stress. I would be lying if I said that I have not lost energy thinking about it.“
Neben turned pro in 20002 with Cannondale, riding for T-Mobile Team and Team Flexpoint before joining Nürnberger last year. She won the World time trial title in 2008, and that same year won the overall Tour Cycliste Feminin International Ardeche and finished second overall in the Giro d'Italia Femminile. She won the Giro's time trial in 2009.
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