Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fly V to get an upgrade? Does this include Sunderland? Does it really matter?

As an Aussie and long time club-level bike racer I really don't care if an Australian team - presumably funded by putatively "Australian" or perhaps pseudo-Australian corporations - is in the ProTour or not. Sure, it's always pleasing when Aussies do well in the ProTour and an "Aussie" team (let's face it, it will have international content anyway) will fuel a bit of pride - but I actually have followed the careers of Boonen and Contador as closely as those of McEwen and Evans. I'd be happy if there was less emphasis on nationalism to be honest.

But I do take an interest in the Australians who go to Europe, no matter which club or team they end up in, or at what level they ride. I don't think it matters whether they ride for an Aussie team or not, as long as they get a fair start. Outside of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games nationalism shouldn't matter - although it obviously does. It's nationalism that puts one rider over another, and not necessarily because they perform better on the bike. It's nationalism - in company with commercial imperatives - that selects one rider for a Grand Tour and another for a lesser event. Indeed nationalism, like commercialism, can go too far if you let it. But there will be benefits to Aussie riders to have a "mostly Aussie" team in the ProTour and another rung will be placed in the ladder. It also can't hurt to provide more seats in the bus, as it were. (Ladders, buses - where am I going with these metaphors?)

As an aside, I did wonder if Scott Sunderland's move from Sky earlier this year was in anticipation of Fly V getting an upgrade. There's no sign of Scott at this moment but it wouldn't surprise me to see him take a role. We shall see if that eventuates. 

Grand plans for Australian ProTour team
White was unable to name which riders are strong chances to join the Australian team. It is known that triple Tour de France green jersey winner Robbie McEwen (Katusha) is one Australian off contract who has been linked with a switch.

White confirmed that Michael Rogers (HTC Columbia) was one Australian he was unable to recruit. "He has already signed with someone else,'' White said. ''I really wanted him."
Fly V Working To Become A ProTour Team In 2011 | Cyclingnews.com
Australian cycling could be about to have its first major team in the European peloton after Chris White of the Fly V Australia team confirmed he is working on plans to secure a UCI ProTour licence for 2011.

Speaking to the Australian newspaper, White revealed he has been working with the UCI on a ProTour application. He refused to name the major sponsor of the team or the name of any major European-based riders he is in talks with. However, veteran sprinter Robbie McEwen could be one target after confirming he wants to race for one last season in 2011. Fellow Australian Mick Rogers is also believed to be considering his future and could be a possible stage race leader for the team.
Fly V Australia squad | Giro d'Italia
To become a ProTour team, Fly V Australia would need to increase its sponsorship to about $15 million a year. The team, which races mainly in the US, needs sponsorship of $8m to $10m to run as a ProContinental team.

There were rumours in last week's Tour Down Under that the Virgin Group, which owns V Australia (the international branch of Virgin Blue) might consider jumping on board in support.
Fly V Australia aiming high - Local News - Geelong, VIC, Australia
"Sporting is have you got riders with enough UCI points to be one of the 18 teams that's going to be part of the Pro Tour," he said.

"Your riders in your squad, your 15 with the most points, determine your squad's points and it's the first 18 teams with the most points that are going to be the Pro Tour."

White said about 12 of his 15 riders currently competing in America could form the nucleus of the team but he would look for about another 13 cyclists from the Pro Tour.

"You've got to go there," he said.

"They're the guys with the points, they're going to get you across the line in that sporting side of things. Riders off contract, (Robbie) McEwen, Luke Roberts we're really, really interested in talking to those guys. Matt Wilson, delightful to have Matt on-board, full of great experience."
Could McEwen lead new Australian ProTour team?
The recent confirmation by Robbie McEwen that he will do a further year in the pro peloton coincides with the news that an Australian ProTour team could be on the cards for 2011.

Team Fly V Australia, which is currently racing at the Pro Continental level, is vying to step up its game and is thought to be just over a week away from announcing a series of Australian and international backers which would give it the estimated €10 million plus budget needed.