The management of the Australian National Road Series team search2retain has agreed to take over the Eclipse Pro Cycling program in 2013 according to a joint team release. The acquisition of the program that runs the senior RBS Morgans – ATS team and under-21 development Jayco-HoneyShotz squad brings added infrastructure to the Melbourne-based team that has been steadily building since its inception in 2009.
Search2retain most recently won the sprint classification at Tour of Tasmania with Neil Van Der Ploeg and is looking to grow the team in the years to come. Little is known about the actual agreement however, a number of Eclipse Pro Cycling sponsors and riders will most likely make the move to search2retain in 2013.
"I commend Eclipse Pro Cycling management for the program that they put together and for the opportunity that they have provided to a large number of Australian riders over the past 2 seasons," said Search2Retain Managing Director Peter Shandon. "We are really looking forward to working with the Eclipse riders and sponsors to create outstanding program that will deliver on our Vision for our team."
The demands of running two concurrent teams with 19 riders and various racing programs has proved too much for the management of Eclipse who cited financial reasons as their primary rationale for discontinuing next season.
"We are very grateful to all our sponsors for their infrastructure," said Eclipse team management. "Running a roster of 19 riders as we did across two teams in 2012 is not an easy task financially and one thing's for certain, we could not have got this far without our sponsors.
"The decision to discontinue is a commercial one, as the team is a non-profit operation," added Eclipse management. "There had to be a decision made on viability. If it were an emotive decision, we would say yes lets continue, yet for the directors of the team the commercial reality is that it's not personally viable to continue."
The Eclipse project had attracted numerous sponsors who would otherwise not being involved in the sport. The acquisition of Eclipse will hopefully mean a number of them including Audi West Brisbane, RBS Morgans and Flight Centre-Healthwise Active Travel remain with search2retain in the coming years.
Eclipse Pro Cycling made its debut on the Australian National Road Series for the 2011 season, claiming impressive victories at the Victorian Open Road Championship with Ben Hill, the gruelling Tour of Tasmania team time trial on Mt Wellington and the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic where Mark Jamieson posted the fastest time in the event's 51-year history.
In 2012, Eclipse partnered with Cycling Australia’s High Performance program to create a new Australian-based under-21 development team, Jayco-HoneyShotz, which raced to victory on four occasions over the National Road Series. The team fully-resourced a national squad to race at the UCI 2.2 Tour of Thailand where Mitchell Lovelock-Fay rode to general classification victory.
The senior team members continued their impressive run with Nic Dougall finishing 5th overall at the under-23 UCI 2.2 Heydar Aliyev Anniversary Tour of Azerbaijan while Ben Hill finished second overall in the mountains classification at the Tour of China I, adding to his dominant streak of results in the category in the NRS for RBS Morgans - ATS.
In all 10 Eclipse Pro Cycling riders have represented Australia in some way in 2012.
Further details regarding the specific nature of the agreement will be available in the coming weeks.