Pegasus, the team named after a mythical horse, believed it secured a last minute reprise and sent new documentation to Switzerland. This turned out to be unsatisfactory and the UCI sent the team to the knacker’s yard. I could write plenty about this process being unsatisfactory, it should not be the case that a team is genuinely surprised if the rules are objective.
This could have been the most exciting venture in Australian cycling since The Melbourne Herald and The Sporting Globe in Australia started a fund in late 1927 to pay for an Australasia team, with Hubert Opperman, to go the Tour de France.
But instead Pegasus has faced headwinds in Australia. What could have been a unifying national project for Aussie cyclists has prompted a minor turf war with some allegations of dirty tricks.
Two horse race?
First up, it seems Pegasus has been a private project and not part the plans of Cycling Australia, the national governing body. Instead Cycling Australia had asked its head coach Shayne Bannan (pictured) to team up with the seemingly-cursed Neil Stephens with a view to getting an Aussie pro team on the road. Pegasus was thus a rival outfit instead of a project to nurture. Perhaps some defensiveness from Cycling Australia is normal. But it’s interesting to see a national governing body actively back one team and appear reasonably indifferent to another one. Surely two teams is even better?
Another observation is the way the team has struggled to find friends in other sections of the sport, especially at home. Pegasus had convinced European race organisers, including ASO, to grant invites to several races. Yet a ride in the Tour Down Under was proving very elusive. Can you imagine the French excluding their top team from the Tour de France? To me it simply seemed extraordinary that this team couldn’t get an invite to its home event. Something wasn’t right.
|Ryan likes to back the winning horse|
If they lacked friends on the road, they also lacked key financial supporters too. The absence of Jayco was a biggie. The caravan manufacturer is a big backer of Australian cycling but wasn’t part of the Pegasus stable. Rather it seems it was playing the longer game with Bannan and Stephens. Indeed Jayco owner Gerry Ryan is personally involved with this project. Ryan is a big figure in Australia, generously backing many sports and appropriately even owning a share of Americain, the winner of the Melbourne Cup horse race last race.
After the 2010 Worlds finished, UCI President Pat McQuaid stayed on to enjoy a vacation in Australia… allegedly funded by none other than Jayco. I’m struggling to believe this, it would be beyond idiocy to accept a big gift from a financial backer. Mind you, this is pro cycling…
I’m not alone in picking up the vibes that some are enjoying the demise of Pegasus in private. Yet there’s a big difference between Schadenfreude and actually thwarting someone. Even so, surely every sports fan in Australia had an interest in seeing Pegasus fly?
It is worth asking precisely what Cycling Australia was up to. Surely two teams are better than one? It’s wishful thinking but additional help with the admin and politics might have helped Pegasus, This should have been an exciting team employing many top Aussie cyclists. Alas.