The Pegasus Questions

Thursday, 23 December 2010

In the wake of the collapse of the Australian Pegasus project it seems plenty are willing to have their say. We’ve had a press release from Cycling Australia and even the UCI felt it worth adding its voice in a curiously worded press release.

French fans never got a taste of Pegasus

But despite all this, we’ve still got a lot of riders working the phone for a ride, not to mention backroom staff who are probably shafted. And, for me at least, there’s the reputation element of the sport, that we see such a big project implode before anyone turned a pedal or zipped up a jersey.

Given all this, there are some interesting questions for people involved to answer. Off the top off my mind:

  • Who was the sponsor of the Pegasus team? We have heard tales of sports mogul George Gillet but I’ve also heard from reliable sources that the US industrial manufacturing supplier 3M was going to be the team’s backer.
  • How far did sponsorship commitments go? Did any party sign a binding agreement to fund the team?
  • Did the news of Contador’s positive test results cause the sponsor to think twice or even allow them to exercise a break clause?
  • When did the Pegasus management realise that their principal partner was not on board?
  • Given the troubles with agreeing paperwork with the UCI, was it advisable to sign riders even as late as December?
  • Does anyone in the team believe they were held back by officials or associates of Cycling Australia or the UCI?
  • Did any of the riders signed express concern about the lack of information about the team? What were they told during the team get-together a few weeks ago?
  • What steps did riders’ agents take to satisfy them the team was genuine and that their riders could expect to receive a full salary?
  • Why did the UCI grant several extensions to various deadlines? Was this accommodative manner because there was evidence that something small needed to be addressed or do officials within the UCI feel misled?
  • What happened at the last moment when there was talk Scott and others had saved the day? Was this another dream or was the money almost there?
  • As good as it is to see the likes of McEwen and Tuft find new teams, remember that they aren’t in a position to bargain. What sort of a pay cut are the having to accept in order to get a ride?
  • Just how many others are left high and dry?
  • What steps can be taken to prevent this happening again?

I suspect confidentiality clauses and general reticence might prevent some from giving blunt answers. We’ll see what the next few days and weeks bring.

If you have any more questions then add them to the comments below.

jza December 23, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Isn't it better if they fail now than in the middle of the season?

TheInnerRing December 23, 2010 at 11:31 pm

jza: interesting. I suppose some would have been able to collect some salary and prove themselves in races. So 6 months unemployment before finding a new team. And perhaps a slim chance to convince another sponsor it could work.

But this is splitting hairs, it's better if none of this happened.

David Lewis December 24, 2010 at 12:22 am

This rang like a soap opera wedding. "No, no honey, it's fine, I love you. Sure, you can keep inviting guests, it's fine. Big wedding. Sure. Anything you want" and then … wham. As fishy as this is, there seems to be way more to this (as your questions point out). The big bummer … screwed over riders and staff.

Odd thing though … if Pegasus was BS'ing up until the last minute, but with red flags all over … why didn't UCI step up a bit earlier and stay, "Hey, smarten up." I also thing it's BS that the UCI said no, and then waited a few days to tell why. That's cheesy.

Touriste-Routier December 24, 2010 at 2:08 am

One has to wonder how the UCI commitment dates fit in with or coincide to the corporate budgeting cycles of potential sponsors.

It seems to me that the longer the lag, the greater the potential for deals to go sour.

It is troublesome if teams do not reveal their sponsors' identities. It makes it look like smoke & mirrors, and justifiably calls into question the viability and sustainability of the program.

Is the UCI doing any favors by extending deadlines? Only if the gamble pays off. Perhaps new teams (and those looking to go up a division) should need to file their disclosures and post their deposits before teams with existing licenses. Of course this probably goes against the corporate budgeting cycles.

Anonymous December 24, 2010 at 9:08 am

I have it on some quite decent authority that their major sponsor had walked when the Worlds were on – so beginning of Oct. Makes you wonder how it still came down to a final stand more than 2 months later? Assuming the same did not happen to them again in that time….?

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