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This morning I had the opportunity to sit down and have a chat with Shayne Bannan at the Middle Park Hotel. Brian Nygaard, GreenEDGE’s Communication Director was scheduled to be there but unfortunately couldn’t make it. In any case, I had an excellent conversation with Shayne and I thank him for being so generous with his time.
[CyclingTips] So how did you and Brian Nygaard begin working together after his departure from Leopard-Trek?
[Shayne Bannan] Once the rumours started going around about the the Leopard-Trek/Radioshack merger and it was evident that Brian wasn’t going to continue in his role as General Manager. I made contact with Brian because we had been searching for somebody who was the right fit to become the Communications Director for GreenEDGE.
How is that different than Press Officer?
It’s probably a little more detailed. Brian comes with vast experience. He’s more than a press officer. He comes with a wealth of knowledge from his roles within Saxo, Sky and Leopard-Trek in various areas of communication. Once it was evident that he wasn’t continuing we made contact. I’ve known Brian for a little while, had several discussions about the possibility of joining us, and came to an agreement about a month ago.
This will be your first ever ProTeam that you’ve managed. Will you be looking to Brian for his experiences with Leopard to help run GreenEDGE?
I think the key to this is people. Everybody knows their weaknesss and strengths. It’s about putting the right people in place. Over the past six months we’ve really tried to select the people who will value add and bring various parts of expertise to the table. It’s not just Brian, it’s also Neil Stephens, Álvaro Crespi who is our Financial Director and was the team manager of Mapei for six years. Those guys and 3-4 other key guys will be bringing their expertise to the table.
What’s next in the ProTeam application process?
On the 14th of October we should be receiving a letter from the UCI after their initial stage of viewing. In that letter they may ask us to change some of that documentation. Hopefully not too much. You have five days to do that. Once you do that they have another viewing of all the documentation. On the 20th of October you put your final ten riders contracts on the table to get it up to 20. On the 1st of November they’ll name the first 15 teams. If you’re in the first 15 teams and you already have a license the procedure is finished. But because we are a new team, even if we’re in the first 15 teams, the next step in the process is that we’ll give a presentation in front of the ProTeam commission. Basically they’ll go through the documentation and see if we’re capable of running a team in 2012.
What is the total roster size you’ll be selecting.
We still haven’t decided. It’s a minimum of 28, and a maximum of 30 riders. We’ll do that over the next 2-3 weeks. But we have our 15 riders in place who will give us the points that we need.
Was there anyone you were keen on signing who you weren’t able to secure a contract with?
Yes, there was one person in particular who would have been great to have on the team for his experience, but unfortunately we were competing against the team he was already in, which was a pretty good one. It was a little disappointing not to have been able to get him. Really only that person.
Can you say who it was?
Nah, I can’t really say.
What about the women’s team? Have there been any announcements?
No, there haven’t as of yet. We’re in the process of discussion. We’ve identified the riders of the women’s team and there will be an announcement in the next three weeks.
When do you see the first team gathering of the team – whether it be a training camp or internal introduction?
And GreenEDGE’s first race?
The first race will be the Jayco Bay Crit series [beginning of January], then the Australian National Championships, and then the first WorldTour race, the Tour Down Under…if we’re fortunate enough to get the license.
And the biggest question – the kit design. The one that’s out now is horrible. When is the real kit design going to be released?
That won’t be released until January. Not too sure if they’ll use it in the Jayco Bay Crit series. We’re still in discussion. We may use a different jersey for that series and use the actual WorldTour jersey at the Tour Down Under.
The association between Cycling Australia and GreenEDGE is misunderstood by a lot of people. Can you clarify your relationship and how you’re aligned?
GreenEDGE is a partner, a sponsor, of Cycling Australia. We support the U23 continental team and have an agreement in place. We provide funding to that program and enables us to have the first rights of discussion. There’s no exclusivity at all. At the end of the day the riders make their own decision as to what team they may or may not ride for.
The way I understand it, the Jayco-2XU team is a feeder team to the U23 AIS team. Is that correct?
We have an alignment with Jayco-2XU, but it’s more supporting the grass roots. I supposed you can look at it as a feeder team, but every cycling club, every state academy and institute is a feeder team to a professional team. In terms of being an official feeder team, we’ve had a lot of requests from various organisations and we’ll try to support them as much as we possibly can without taking away from our key business.
So are you saying that every non-AIS aligned Australian development team will have equal opportunity to feed into GreenEDGE?
One of our reasons for starting this team was to value add to Australian cycling in terms of providing pathways. Not just for riders, but for staff as well. Giving back to the sport as much as we possibly can. It’s an evolution which will take place over the next 4-10 years. We would expect that we’ll be in a position to give a lot back to the community.
There is lots of debate of potential favoritism and political alignment with national team selections. With the exclusion of Mark Renshaw in the World Championships because a perceived favoritism, what comfort can riders have who aren’t aligned with GreenEDGE for national team selection based on their own merits and results?
I live in Italy so I don’t actually read a lot of press. I just deal with day to day facts. But I have heard about the discussion, which is a great thing and shows the evolution of cycling and people having their opinions. In my old position I was a selector and a team manager and came under criticism quite a bit for various selections. When you’re in that position you pick the make-up of the team based on who you believe will do the job for a particular person on the day, or you come up with different scenarios. On the Australian team this year, and without speaking to Matt White, but knowing how I would feel in the past…Matt white would have gone through the various scenarios. He would have based it with the other selectors on what would be the best for Australia. Not GreenEDGE, not Garmin, not SKY – I believe there were three SKY riders on the team, there was one Garmin rider on the team. So to say that the team was stacked with GreenEDGE riders was a bit of an exaggeration. I think at the end of the day the person in charge of Australian cycling makes the decision for what’s best for Australia and to get the result. We’re always going to have controversy. That’s part of the sport becoming popular. It’s actually not a bad thing. It shows people are passionate about it.
So can you offer any assurances that riders who aren’t part of GreenEDGE won’t miss out on selection of National Team events?
I’m here speaking for a representative of GreenEGDE. That’s a question for Cycling Australia. I don’t have any say whatsoever with Cycling Australia. I used to in my old position, but as of January 1 of this year I’m not part of the selection process. They still talk to me for advice on various issues because I have a fair amount of history, but basically they are their own people who make the decision for Cycling Australian, and vice versa for GreenEDGE.
2012 is of course an Olympic year and there’s bound to be some overlap in rider’s schedules. Will one of GreenEDGE’s objectives be to support the riders who are competing in London?
As an Australian we love to be supportive of our Australian riders who want to compete and be successful. We’ll be letting CA know that it will be an absolute partnership and there will be no compromise in their preparation. For the guys in our team who want to be part of the Olympic team we’ll give them 100% support.
Do you feel any pressure or responsibility towards making sure your riders perform at the Olympics after a dismal 2008 in Beijing?
Every World Championships, Commonwealth Games is a lot of pressure. I’ll be feeling a different pressure next year because I’m not involved with the Olympic Games, I’m a GreenEDGE person. But certainly standing and cheering from the outside will be pretty exciting and nerve wracking.
It must be hard be for people, because I’ve been involved with CA working for them for 23 years and now I don’t work for them anymore. I have this business I’m trying to set up, a WorldTour team. I understand the perceptions out there. But I actually don’t have any say whatsoever in the selection process.
You have a busy day ahead of you Shayne so I won’t keep you. Thank you kindly for your time and all the best in 2012. We’ll be cheering you on. [Shayne heads back to Italy on Thursday and will be at the Giro di Lombardia this weekend. Just as I finish writing this I see a press release in my inbox stating that Christian Meier (CAN) and Daryl Impey (SA) have been announced to signing with GreenEDGE. That brings the roster count up to 27]