AUSTRALIA (VN)_ Despite recent reports of its demise, Pegasus Sports has secured enough money to save its ambitious plans to field a UCI Pro Continental team in 2011.
CEO Chris White told VeloNews that the team has received the funds necessary to secure the bank guarantee required by the UCI from “one of our existing sponsors upping their commitment.”
“(The sponsor) has come from within the family,” said White, who quickly cautioned, “This is not the time to put the cherry on top here yet.”
Last Tuesday, Pegasus Sports discovered its principal backer, rumored to be George Gillett Jr., had decided to renege on his previous commitment, worth an estimated $4.7 million Australian ($4.6 million U.S.). White was then forced to apply to the UCI for an extension till this Wednesday — four working days after the governing body released the names of 23 teams to be granted Pro Continental licenses for the 2011 season, on December 10.
“We’ve made significant operational savings to move forward here, and one of the things that is really important to note is that we are solving a problem, and we’re collectively using mateship and ingenuity and our experience to do that, as well as further engagement within our broader sponsorship family.”
“But,” he stressed, “we still need more support (to run the team).”
White said by an existing sponsor raising its commitment and drastic cost-cutting to reduce the Pegasus Sports coterie of 45 persons – riders and staff – to its leanest form, he not only has enough for a bank guarantee, believed to be $1.4 million, but “our operations” as well.
“But there is more support required,” repeated White. “We’re in reasonable shape, but we will continue on a sponsorship-acquisition pathway.”
“Good news is good news, but we’re still in the midst of submitting our submission,” said the embattled CEO, just hours before the 4 p.m. CET deadline given by the UCI.
“And we’ve still got to meet all the requirements of the UCI and only the UCI can determine that so … I don’t want to get (it to be) too (much a case of) ‘problem solved’ here. I think we’ve done a reasonable job, and I hope that we’ve done enough … I’m not the judge of that.”
Not expecting an answer anytime soon — unsurprising given the UCI’s bureaucratic and methodical application process — what chance does he give Pegasus of getting that elusive Pro Continental license?
“I’m not pre-empting anything. This last week has been incredibly tough, and I … I’m doing my best and we’re collectively doing our best as a team and organization, and hopefully our best is sufficient to clinch the license.”
Editor’s note: Realizing life in advertising was nothing like Mad Men and buoyed by the Olympic Games in his Australian hometown of Sydney, Anthony Tan turned his back on a lucrative copywriting career in 2000 to pursue something more cerebral. Combining wordsmithing with his experiences as an A-Grade club racer and a season racing in Europe, a career as a cycling scribe beckoned. … More than 10 Grand Tours and countless classics later, it’s where he still is today. He has been a contributor to VeloNews since 2006.