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Pegasus Sports optimistic for ProTour place

Pegasus Sports chief executive Chris White has revealed he will name the title sponsor for the new Australian team in the next two weeks, around the same time that the UCI announces if the team will be awarded a ProTour licence for 2011.

White and general manager Ian Goodwin were in Turin for the 2011 Giro d'Italia route presentation after spending time at the UCI's headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland completing the team's ProTour application on Friday.

Pegasus Sports was expected to name a title sponsor during the world championships in Australia in late September but the announcement was delayed after news of Alberto Contador's Clenbuterol positive test broke and dominated the headlines.

There were rumours that the Contador's positive made a major US-based sponsor suddenly back track on sponsoring the Australian team, leaving a hole in the team's planned budget. However, White denied this to Cyclingnews.

"No. Not true. We just didn't think the timing was right to say much," he said.

"The reality is that those types of things hold the sport back and we needed to let them blow over. They devalue the sport and make it more difficult.

"We've got a title sponsor but it's been a really significant challenge to achieve that. Coming out of the South Pacific and being Australia's first ProTour applicant has been made even more difficult by those type of events."

"We've got some great announcements to make over the next couple of weeks and between now and then we're waiting for the UCI to decide on the ProTour."

ProTour application

Pegasus Sports was initially left off the list of teams who had successfully submitted a ProTour licence application. White described the problem as a glitch, which has now been resolved.

"As a first time applicant, we learnt a lot from the first application we put in. We got caught out by a couple of documents. One was there that they missed and another was not there that we fixed up within a few days. You could have added to the application until last Friday, so it's a review process with many steps. It caught us all by surprise in early October but it's all done and all fixed."

The UCI is expected to award 10 ProTour licenses on November 1 to the teams with current licenses, provided they have their dossiers in order, and then the final eight licenses on November 20, after further interviews with the licence committee. The second round includes teams with expiring ProTour licenses and new applicants like Pegasus Sports.

Pegasus Sports' biggest signing is veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen but the team's roster is one of the weakest of the team apply for a ProTour licence.

White believes his project is about more than creating a successful team on the road and would be willing to compete at a Professional Continental level if his ProTour application is turned down.

"I believe we deserve ProTour licence, so I'd be disappointed if we didn't get one," White said. "But we'd also be philosophical about it. We're committed to being in Europe, we're committed to growing our programme in the ProTour and we're committed to being in Europe as a Professional Continental team if that is what it takes."

"From an Australian perspective, if I can put on my dinky-die Aussie hat on, I think we're the best cycling nation in the world. We've topped the medal table at every world championship for the last two years, whether it's road, track, BMX or mountain bike. That's pretty impressive.

"We're the fourth ranked nation in the world but we don't have a ProTour team, while there are countries with three teams. We think the time's right now to change that. We've aligned really close with the UCI strategy on the mondialisation of the sport but also on a whole number of other fronts. We think Australia deserves a ProTour team."

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Stephen Farrand
Stephen Farrand

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.