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Mitchelton-Scott team owner Gerry Ryan has shed more light on his decision to pull out of an arrangement that would have seen the squad becoming Team Manuela Fundación, telling the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that “it wasn’t the deal that I thought it was.”
On June 18, Ryan pulled the plug on a deal that his team had announced less than a week prior with the Manuela Fundación, a nascent Spanish non-profit run by businessman Francisco Huertas and his wife María Angustias González. Since then, Mitchelton-Scott has overhauled its management. Shayne Bannan and Álvaro Crespi, who were instrumental in putting the Manuela Fundación arrangement in place, are out. Brent Copeland and Darach McQuaid are in.
Ryan recently committed to continuing to fund the team for a further two seasons.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ryan said that he called off the Manuela Fundación deal upon getting a better understanding of what was to transpire – a transfer not only of title sponsorship, but of team ownership as well – after initially leaving discussions to Bannan and Crespi.
“I wasn’t totally across the deal and when I started to look at the deal … it wasn’t the deal that I thought it was,” Ryan said.
“I decided, no, they could have sponsorship but not ownership.”
The decision initially caught the Manuela Fundación off-guard, with former Giro d’Italia winner Stefano Garzelli, who had been handling negotiations for the organization, saying “Ryan’s words were like a cold shower.” The Manuela Fundación has since said that it is exploring other options for entering the peloton.
Ryan said that had not had close contact with Manuela Fundación owner Huertas.
“Bannan did. I had no correspondence apart from a couple of emails with the gentleman,” Ryan said, according to teh Sydney Morning Herald.
“The problem was everything was done over Zoom. What was happening is he had a team of advisers and I think, in translation, a lot of things got misconstrued about what they were looking for and what we were actually looking for.
“I came into it late in the conversation. The deal had basically been agreed to but hadn’t got my blessing. I came into it in the home straight and I scratched the horse.”
After the uncertainty surrounding the now-scuttled deal with Manuela Fundación Ryan’s recent commitment to keeping the team moving forward secured Mitchelton-Scott’s future and its largely Australian identity through at least 2022.
“It’s got Australian DNA, even though 80 per cent of our staff are European,” Ryan said.
“You’ll probably see a couple of more Aussies come into the team next year. We try and put in the best team that we can recruit and afford.”
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the team will be announcing some roster changes within the next two weeks.