Shane Sutton has criticised Jonathan Vaughters’ threats of legal action against Shane Bannan, the head of new Australian team GreenEdge, branding his comments as “unprofessional”.
The Garmin-Cervélo manager told Cyclingnews that he would consider legal action if approaches are made to any of his riders or staff before August 1. Vaughters’ riders Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge, along with directeur sportif Matt White, have been linked to the new team, which hopes to secure a ProTeam licence for 2012 and ride the Tour de France.
However, Sky performance manager Sutton wasn't pleased that Vaughters aired his concerns publicly on the day of the team's presentation.
"To pick up the papers in Perth yesterday morning and see an article from the American basically slagging GreenEdge on unfounded evidence that his riders have been approached ... and making threats to take certain people to court, I think it's pretty unprofessional in this sport,” Sutton told AAP.
“It's quite sad, given the enormity of what the announcement was going to be at three o'clock,” he said. "It's not what the sport needed. The announcement is what the sport needed.”
There are striking similarities between the genesis of the GreenEdge project and that of Sutton’s Sky team. The new Australian squad appears to have some of its roots in the country’s track programme, just as Team Sky grew out of Great Britain’s success on the track. However, Sutton was keen to welcome the new outfit to the sport.
"Good luck to them - from Sky's point of view, all we can do is wish them all the best,” he said.
Sutton spoke highly of GreenEdge general manager Shayne Bannan, who resigned from his dual roles as Cycling Australia's National Performance Director and the Australian Institute of Sport's Head Cycling Coach in order to join the project.
“Shayne is a straight guy, he's very well-respected, Australia couldn't ask for a better leader," Sutton said. "We won't be slagging each other off through the papers, we're bigger than that."
Meanwhile, Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervélo) moved to play down his manager Vaughters’ comments. “Any boss would have said the same thing, he can have faith in Jack and me that we're currently contracted and we're going to fulfill that contract, we're going to race to the best of our ability," he said to AAP.