Cyclingnews understands that the expected tie-up and sponsorship deal between Team BikeExchange and Premier Tech will not happen after final terms regarding team ownership could not be agreed.
Premier Tech are now said to be looking for another team. CEO Jean Bélanger told La Presse in mid-September that his company will partner with either BikeExchange, Israel Start-Up Nation, Qhubeka-NextHash or Rally Cycling but time is running out, with the UCI deadline for WorldTour team registration on October 15.
Premier Tech was expected to join Team BikeExchange as a sponsor for 2022 and take a 50 per cent ownership stake of the team. According to sources, the decision not to go ahead with the deal was made almost two weeks ago.
Gerry Ryan will now continue to fund the men’s and women’s BikeExchange WorldTour teams via his different business interests, with Giant reportedly set to join the team as the bike sponsor in place of Bianchi.
Ryan has virtually singlehandedly bankrolled a men’s and women’s programme for an entire decade, with success at every race in the world. However, finding a secure long-term future has been a challenge.
Last year, the team also went forward with a project that included the little-known Manuela Foundation in Spain but Ryan pulled the plug after it became clear that the potential partners were not suitable and did not share his vision.
The collapse of the talks mean that neither Jakob Fuglsang or Hugo Houle will move from Astana to Team BikeExchange. Both are linked to Premier Tech, as is former Canadian rider and directeur sportif Steve Bauer and former Astana team manager Yana Seel.
Cyclingnews understands the Canadian sponsor, who will end its backing of the Astana team this year, is willing to invest around €5 million in a team but wants an equity stake in the team. Bélanger claimed he was contacted by “about fifteen” teams concerning sponsorship. However, it appears few are willing to include team ownership in any deal.
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