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by Matt de Neef
June 19, 2020
The Manuela Fundación’s partnership with GreenEdge Cycling is over before it truly began.
Team owner Gerry Ryan has quashed the partnership following frustrations about how the deal was struck.
“We felt a strong initial connection with Mr Francisco Huertas, the Manuela Fundación and their noble aims,” Ryan explained.
“However, as the negotiations have evolved after the initial announcement on Friday, we have concluded that the relationship will not proceed. We wish Mr. Francisco Huertas and the Manuela Fundación all of the best for the future.”
The team will return to racing next month under the Mitchelton-Scott banner and has announced that full salaries will return. Sources inside the team had previously indicated to CyclingTips that full paydays hadn’t been seen since February.
Sources close to the team have told CyclingTips that the partnership with the nascent Spanish not-for-profit was organised by Mitchelton-Scott’s general manager, Shayne Bannan, without fully consulting Ryan. The deal was seemingly an act of desperation, fuelled by the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CyclingTips understands Ryan wasn’t consulted on the team’s new kit design, nor last Friday’s press release that announced the sponsorship deal. Ryan hinted at these frustrations in an interview with Ride Media on Wednesday, saying “the release probably went a bit early, as Shayne [Bannan] is in Spain next week trying to finalise the sponsorship and other opportunities.” Ryan affirmed in the same interview that he remains the team’s owner.
The foundation hit back, saying that a deal was done earlier this month, and that, contrary to Ryan’s assertion, the Manuela Fundación would take over ownership of the team from the time the deal was struck.
“An agreement was signed on June 5 and it needs to be complied with,” said the foundation’s sports director Emilio Rodriguez. “They will know why they say that, but we agreed to join with GreenEdge from that day on.
“It was agreed that we were now the owners, and that as of January 1, 2021 we would also take over the team’s license once the season ended on December 31 and once the regulatory procedures and audits with the UCI had been completed.”
GreenEdge Cycling has long been on the lookout for a title sponsor ever since Australian explosives company Orica wound up its sponsorship at the end of 2017. Significant efforts were made to find a new title sponsor in Asia — particularly in China and Hong Kong — but so far nothing has eventuated. Ryan’s Mitchelton Winery has been the team’s primary sponsor since the start of 2018.
CyclingTips understands that the team is in advanced discussions with two potential sponsors but nothing has yet come to fruition.