Recently granted a Pro Continental contract by the UCI, the planned Cult Energy Stölting team has an uncertain future after Cult walked away from the squad on Wednesday.
At the press conference held in Denmark, Cult announced that it was withdrawing its backing from a team that it had been involved with since the 2013 season.
The company’s founder Brian Sorensen later said that confidence had been lost in the collaboration. “Cult can not have a close cooperation with a company whose morality is not consistent with our values,” he said.
According to Cult, Stölting Cycling GmbH “broke the agreement for the purchase of equipment from Cult Energy Pro Cycling.” It also said that that riders were not paid in November. Sorensen said that he would guarantee payment of the wages for the remainder of the year, but that Cult’s involvement was otherwise over.”
The team had been in financial difficulties this year and there was talk that it could be forced to stop before the end of the season. However in August it was announced that the German company Stölting Group would come on board, combining with Cult after sponsoring its own Continental team this year.
The agreement was to be for three years. The 2016 squad was due to include strong German riders such as 2013 Milan-Sanremo winner Gerald Ciolek and former Tour de France yellow jersey and stage winner Linus Gerdemann.
Rasmus Quaade, Rasmus Guldhammer and former Sky rider Russell Downing were also on board, as were the experiencd Fabian Weggmann, Tour de l’Avenir stage winner Mads Pedersen and the Olympic omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen.
Responding to Cult’s announcement, Stölting Cycling GmbH – which is the company formed to act as a paying agent for the team – denied Sorensen’s allegations.
“Cult claims that Stölting has not been carrying out its agreed-upon duties, which is not correct,” it said in a statement. “The official cooperation begins on January 1, and Stölting has fulfilled all the duties necessary to prepare for the 2016 season.
“The specific claim regarding the mentioned purchase of equipment also has no basis because Stolting has in fact fulfilled all its promises regarding this issue.”
It said that it was surprised at the news, and suggested there was an ulterior motive for the decision. It said that it, “believes that CULT is simply searching for an exit to the sponsorship because it cannot afford to fulfil its commitment.”
It said that it was working to try to find a solution to ensure the team continues.