The UCI on Thursday defended its decision not to award the Australian-based Pegasus team a ProTeam or Professional Continental license in a two-page communiqué that claims the team could not meet required financial guarantees for 2011.
The UCI said the Pegasus project managed by Australian Chris White could not meet paperwork and financial requirements to qualify for elite status despite a series of deadline extensions.
“Despite the extended deadline of 15th December that was exceptionally granted by the Licence Commission, Pegasus Sports did not provide either a bank guarantee or sufficient financial guarantees for 2011,” the release said.
On Monday, Pegasus officials expressed dismay following the UCI’s decision not to proffer a pro-continental license, but the UCI insisted that management for the Australian team bore the blame after repeatedly missing deadlines and financial obligations dating back to October.
The UCI went so far to claim that Pegasus was “unprofessional from the start.”
“To reply to certain declarations that have appeared in the press, the UCI feels obliged to explain that despite the public announcements, the management of the Pegasus Sports project proved to be rather unprofessional from the start,” the UCI stated.
Officials from Pegasus did not return calls from VeloNews on Thursday.
The UCI statement came three days after the cycling governing body shot down Pegasus’s final-hour bid to earn pro-continental status following the devastating news that a major backer reneged on financial commitments.
White said last week that he had pulled together new money to help secure the team’s future and expressed dismay that the UCI did not award the team a Pro Continental license on Monday.
The UCI, however, insists that problems with the team management dated back months, including the team’s first major misstep when it failed to meet an October 1 deadline to file paperwork for a ProTeam license.
The UCI said that riders have been free of contractual obligations to Pegasus since missing the October 1 deadline. So far, two riders — Svein Tuft and Philippe Cornu — have been able to find rides next season with major teams. Other riders are likely to exit the squad in the coming days.
White said this week the team will move forward with a continental license, but that status further complicates the team’s bids to get into major European races.
Here is a copy of the full UCI communiqué:
Following the reactions which followed the decision by the UCI Licence Commission to refuse the registration of the Australian team Pegasus Sports as a Professional Continental Team, the UCI would like to explain some points in order to ease the discussions and allow for a better understanding of the context in which this decision was taken. The full reasons will be communicated to the team’s management in the next few days.
First of all, the UCI would like to express its deep disappointment faced with the situation that has arisen: the project of a professional Australian team was a new and very important step in the process of the globalisation of cycling which is a strategic priority of our Federation. A successful outcome of this initiative would have stimulated the pleasing growth phase that our sport is experiencing, notably with the creation and development of high-level races on different continents.
For the UCI, the failure of Pegasus Sports is very bad news, but that cannot however affect the rigorous work our Federation carries out for cycling, or the respect that is due to all those who have fulfilled their obligations according to the regulation.
While waiting to learn of the reasons for the decision announced by the Licence Commission on 20th December, the UCI can however presume that the refusal to register Pegasus Sports is based on a financial aspect, given the serious shortcomings the formation had presented.
Despite the extended deadline of 15th December that was exceptionally granted by the Licence Commission, Pegasus Sports did not provide either a bank guarantee or sufficient financial guarantees for 2011.
To reply to certain declarations that have appeared in the press, the UCI feels obliged to explain that despite the public announcements, the management of the Pegasus Sports project proved to be rather unprofessional from the start.
Informed of the registration procedures on 23rd June 2010 in the same manner as all the other teams, Pegasus Sports didn’t respect the deadline of 1st October fixed for the initial registration requests.
Following this first and significant non-conformity of the regulation, all the riders under contract with the Australian team obtained the right to free themselves from their commitment to the team.
Pegasus Sports’ request to obtain a UCI ProTeam licence had moreover not been able to be taken into account following the result of the sporting evaluation established by the UCI on October 20th, which ranked the team 23rd. As a result, the Pegasus Sports file was evaluated for a possible registration as a Professional Continental Team. However, given the shortcomings on the financial side, which could not guarantee that the team would survive the whole 2011 season, this option also had to be rejected.
Following this decision and in line with the regulation, Pegasus Sports appealed to the Licence Commission, which took charge of the file.
However, the team still did not change its attitude: it did not undertake the necessary steps to rectify the shortcomings regarding the UCI regulation, that were however indicated several times in the different reports established by the UCI’s auditors.
Even so, the Licence Commission granted an extended deadline (10th December) to Pegasus Sports so it could sort out its problems. Exceptionally, this deadline was even extended a further five days (15th December).
Yet, at the end of this ultimate chance, fundamental documents such as the bank guarantee and sufficient financial guarantees for 2011 are still missing from the Pegasus Sports file.
The UCI can now only sincerely regret this conduct from the leaders of Pegasus Sports and express its sympathy to all the riders and others involved with the Australian team who unfortunately bear the consequences.
UCI Press Services