Cyclingnews understands that at least six riders from the Pegasus Sports team have begun to look for places in other teams after the Australian team failed to secure a Professional Continental licence from the UCI.
On Friday the UCI announced that 23 teams have secured a licence to compete in cycling’s second division in 2011 after a series of financial, ethical and administrative checks where carried out on each team’s application.
Teams that secured a Professional Continental licence included Colombia es Pasion - Cafe de Colombia, Team Spidertech Powered by C10 in Canada and the Verandas Willems - Accent team in Belgium.
The Pegasus Sports team has a much stronger rider roster than many of the other applicants but has still to name a title sponsor for the team and their application was deemed incomplete but the UCI Licence Commission after also being overlooked for a ProTeam licence.
The team has been granted an additional period until just next Wednesday (December 15) to submit all the required documentation but time appears to be running out for what should have been Australia’s first ever major professional team.
A source, who runs a US-based team and who received the resumes from the six riders told Cyclingnews: "It's is unfortunate that the Pegasus program is struggling and unfortunate that riders and staff members are now strandd and looking for last minute jobs."
Under UCI rules, riders can terminate their contracts if a team fails to secure a Professional Continental licence. That would allow the riders of the calibre of Robbie McEwen, Robert Hunter, Daryl Impey and Svein Tuft to look for other teams. However their chances and possible salaries would be limited because most teams have completed their rosters and spent their budgets for 2011.
Pegasus Sports team manager Chris White was expected to make an official announcement about the team’s sponsor at the world championships in Australia but that was delayed after the news of Alberto Contador’s positive anti-doping test first emerged.
It has been widely rumoured that the team lost a major US sponsor because of the Contador case but team manager Chris White denied this to Cyclingnews in late October. However the team held a training camp in Australia in November had secured invitations to several prestigious races in 2011, including the Tour of Oman, organised by ASO, who also organise the Tour de France.
Both White and directeur sportif Henrik Redant did not respond to Cyclingnew's requests for comment.