Red faces for Green Edge?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Australian headline

Stuey has wanted to be a part of this project since we first went public with wanting to put a team at the Tour de France, back in Adelaide last January… …We’ll be rolling out more big-name signings in the days and weeks ahead.

That’s the headline screengrab plus a quote from an article in The Australian, the biggest selling-newspaper Down Under. Only it seems to be premature at best.

Here’s Stuart O’Grady via twitter:

“Just for the record, I have NOT SIGNED any contracts. Don’t believe everything you read.”

Without wanting to hold a running commentary on individual names – as this would only spotlight the rider instead of the newspaper or the team – it seems a couple riders linked to the new Australian squad have decided not to join.

Sinning by pride?
Let’s hope this is just a PR-problem of an excitable team owner name-dropping before the ink is dry on rider contracts, what the French call “sinning by pride” (pécher par orgueil), to get too boastful about riders joining before the deal is sealed rather than anything more serious.

Gerry Ryan is very wealthy and perfectly able to fund the team. This Green Edge team has been very careful to build a structure, to put funding in place and even to woo the UCI and race organisers like ASO with impressive admin skills. They’ve even got the team bus. Although the team’s also hired the seemingly-cursed Neil “Stevo” Stephens.

If the country’s biggest newspaper is getting mixed messages then that’s not ideal, especially given the squad is hunting for corporate backers. Still, this team has wealthy backers and even an entire nation – or at least the Australian Institute of Sport – behind it, not to mention high ambitions to suit potential sponsors. As such some good news about new riders joining will get the message back on track.

Simma August 2, 2011 at 8:45 am

Thats just too funny… it’s almost panto! “we’ve signed stuey! oooooo yes we have!” “oooooo no you haven’t!”

Nick August 2, 2011 at 9:27 am

I’d put this down to the newspaper getting over excited. Mainstream Aussie press isn’t used to reporting on cycling bar the Tour de France, let alone rider contracts. Maybe they did have the inside word and the quotes are actually from the horses mouth but I’d say everythings going OK and The Australian has jumped the gun.

Neil August 2, 2011 at 9:43 am

Nick you may well be right but it sounds like one hot under the collar Stuey though – if, as seems inevtitable, he has been at least talking to GreenEDGE then this is the very kind of ineptness which might drive him back to the tightknit Leopard outfit. Good Aussie that he is why would he pass up the very real chance to road captain home next year’s TdF winner (after 3 consecutive seconds)? GreenEDGE will not go within cooee of doing this during the year or three Stuey may have left in the peleton.

Anonymous August 2, 2011 at 10:00 am

Neil

Money talks…

Flashing Pedals August 2, 2011 at 10:05 am

It has puzzled me as to why, Gerry Ryan is ‘suddenly’ the contract negotiator – or PR person for the team.
More qualified persons are already involved in the teams structure, and while some may argue that as ‘sponsor’ he has a right, I would question the competency in this matter.

Shayne Bannan is well connected amongst Australian riders, as is Neil Stephens – and/or Matt White.
It is always a bad option, when a sponsor – is also involved with daily management of the team, and in this instance, of ‘we signed x’ then ‘x’ turns around and denies it, something is amiss.

Perhaps it is a case of the newspaper getting specific details incorrect, but with a CEO recently departed for ‘management differences’ with Ryan, perhaps the detail is within the devil.

It might be wiser for GreenEDGE to employ a professional PR person, and leave the ‘public gob’ element, to a more accomplished person.

Malcolm August 2, 2011 at 11:09 am

I wouldn’t have put too much faith in the article, seeing the Australian is actually Australia’s 8th biggest selling newspaper (not the biggest selling), and published an article about a day earlier where it suggested that Cadel Evans had a good chance of winning the 2012 Olympics road race despite the race by necessity being around London.

Although, this type of story coming on the first few days of the transfer period still suggests to me the whole Green Edge effort is not going to be any more successful than Team Pegasus was last year.

JR August 2, 2011 at 11:23 am

The article was interesting for the quote “The bank guarantees with the UCI are in place and we continue to talk with corporate Australia to get behind this project”. In other words the team’s got the minimum in place but close to a year after the project started and no sponsor is in place. You say Ryan is wealthy but he’s not going to pay for the team forever, trust me.

diamondjim August 2, 2011 at 11:55 am

It might be wiser for (GreenEDGE) (UCI) to employ a professional PR person, and leave the ‘public gob’ element, to a more accomplished person. :-)

The Inner Ring August 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm

It leaves things in an interesting position if the team has said it’s after certain riders in public. These named riders are in a good bargaining position, no? But like I said above a couple of named riders probably aren’t joining, they’ve got cold feet.

Malcolm: thanks, seems the paper is the biggest selling national in Australia… but like France it’s outsold by regional papers eg Sydney Morning Herald etc.

Anthony August 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Just for a different reporting – here’s a what the Adelaide Advertiser reports (a day later..):

“Aussie team wants SA ace : New Aussie team GreenEDGE is desperate to sign the Adelaide 37-year-old for its debut season in 2012, but expects a fight from Luxembourg outfit Leopard-Trek in its bid to keep him.” ( http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/aussie-team-wants-sa-ace/story-e6frecj3-1226106240214 )

I know it’s a bit old fashioned, but err, am I nuts to wish that all these negotiations went on behind closed doors? Can’t imagine it’s very fun for riders to have to deal with all of this kind of nonsense in the media.

The Inner Ring August 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Anthony: thanks, some balance. Some riders prefer to race but a few – and especially their agent – enjoy a bit of competition in public. If a team and its proud owner have said it public they want to hire Mr X then they risk looking stupid if they don’t get him; so they might pay plenty to secure a deal.

Snappy Don August 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I figure it’s the sponsor getting too wrapped up with the day to day business
rather than leaving it to the guys supposedly running the show.
Last week they’ve already had their CEO walk because of differences of opinion
with Ryan. Back off Jerry and let your guys do their job.

Anthony August 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Part of my cynical brain suggests that after the Australian report, this is just some posturing so that when O’Grady signs with Leopard-Trek, there’s a plausible reason as to why.

I can’t imagine that GreenEdge is doing itself any favours however.. heck, I’m a neutral, tending towards partisan, Australian and they’re rapidly climbing up the list of teams I don’t like – for a new outfit, that’s really a bad foot to begin on.

Also, last trawl of AU media – there’s another teensy pair of statements from Shanye Bannan which sort of frames the general situation:

‘Team general manager Shayne Bannan said from Europe he was “pretty confident” of confirming two or three signings soon.’ … ‘Bannan also clarified that they had not secured any signatures yet.’
( http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8280535 )

The Pelican August 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I’d say its a bit of Gerry having a big mouth and Peter Kogoy – the cycling reporter for the Oz – wanting to bust an exclusive. Kogoy has the reputation for premature penmanship and I’d suggest that’s what this is. While Gerry has a reputation for talking too much at lunch and dinner… Even I know some of the riders already supposedly ‘signed’ – second-hand chit-chat and all that. Let’s list ‘em and see how close I get: Matt Goss, Cam Meyer, Luke Roberts, Alby Davis, Renshaw and Howard (if HTC folds)… McEwen, Stuey… the list goes on. They’ll need a few more points though. Goss and Meyer bring ‘em a few so expect one bigger Euro name signing. Right or wrong exciting times… Go Gerry… Keep your pen in your pocket Kogoy!

Touriste-Routier August 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I think most of you are missing a major point. The information very well might be the case of wishful thinking or an over active sponsor, but the real issue here is poor journalism. Facts need to be verified. If they are verified, then you have news. If they are not, you have rumors. Rumors can be (and widely are) reported, but they should be presented as such utilizing conditional wording such as “purportedly”.

Chris H. August 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm

This is nothing new for reports to come out that a rider has joined, only to have said rider say, “no I haven’t”. O’Grady may be on his way to the new team, but by saying he hasn’t signed anything he could be trying to up the ante for his signature, or at least for a bigger paycheck if it’s not truly a done deal on either side.

Regardless, this team doesn’t strike me as any different than the previous failed Australian team. We’ve got money! We’re signing riders! We’re going to be the next big thing! Yet we don’t seem to display any real acumen for the business side of the sport.

Believe it when we see it. And yes, ultimately it’s shoddy journalism, but it’s par for the course with contract talks because we as readers eat this stuff up and assume a fair amount of back and forth before the truth is finally known.

Larry T. August 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Interesting stuff. While driving around in the Barolo hills of Italy back in May, we more than once saw a station wagon all set up for cycling support duty with “GREEN EDGE CYCLING PROJECT” or something like that clearly visible on it. We wondered what might be going on, were they looking for riders in the Barolo hills or scouting locations for a training camp, or perhaps they’ll try to cash in on the new popularity of Aussies coming over to the continent to see the Giro and Tour…and put something together like Trek did awhile back? But it could it all be the “cart before the horse” and a big joke like the Pegasus project? I hope not.

rich August 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm

If HTC folds combined with the QS/Omega merger there could be a lot of riders up for grabs. Best thing for a rider is to get his contract asap.

LeonG August 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm

The latest is that Phil Anderson is not signing.

Fred Astaire August 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I just want to make it clear to everyone here, today, I signed an exclusive contract with Green Edge Cycling. I am excited to be taking my career onward the Aussie way.

Fred Astaire August 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Wait a second. No, no I didn’t sign any kind of contract with Green Edge Cycling. Remember, don’t believe everything you read. Time for a hot tub and some sausage. Kielbasa. My favorite.

LeonG August 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Phil Anderson is reconsidering his position. [He might improve his tt in the process]

Jennifer August 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Bye-bye GreenEdge. Considering the transfer season is “open,” shouldn’t they have some signatures in place?
http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/9285/Porte-not-joining-GreenEdge-OGrady-may-also-be-absent.aspx

Touriste-Routier August 4, 2011 at 1:22 am

The Velonation article makes it seem like they have a firmer grip on reality than most public statements project. Focusing on 1 day events and sprints certainly ups the opportunities for success publicity, and points, versus trying to be a grand tour team in year 1. If they accept that they might need to be a Pro Conti team for a year or two while they build their program, it might give them better credibility.

C Grade Cyclist August 4, 2011 at 2:11 am

I’m not too stressed about the lack of rider signing announcements at this stage.

The key is financial backing – and whilst they wouldlike a big name sponsor (or two) to step up, the already have a benefactor with deep pockets (Gerry Ryan) with a long, consistent history of supporting Australian cycling. So that is not a concern at all.

But as a fan – it would be nice to start hearing of a couple of ‘confirmed signings’, even if its just some domestic development riders, so as to build excitement for the upcoming season…

RobertBB August 4, 2011 at 4:00 am

I’ll sign with them. I’ve improved my time on the local climb by 6 minutes over the Winter. All I ask is that I get to keep the uber-bike after the season, and for them to match the salary of my government deskjob.

Abdu Whereareyou August 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yet another hypocritical attack on Greenedge, what did they do to you Inner Ring?

Every other team is signing riders, heck some are merging and others going under. All those teams are talking to riders, making strange comments (Tweets) etc.

Do you think Omega Pharma Lotto and Quikstep merged without shoring up their rider roster?

Is Stevo the only DS with a doping past? Literally every team has a DS or owner (and that would include USPostal loyal lieutenant Saint Jonothan V) has one. Why harp on about Greenedge.

This is a silly comment from a journo in a lowly read (fact check please) Murdoch paper, that has a”cycling writer” (he got tha job because he’s the one in the office who rides a bike). Build a bridge mate.

Why always only lump it on Greenedge?

ColoradoGoat August 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I do not get it. Stewart O’Grady is an above average Pro-Tour rider at best. He is always there, but never really seems to do anything spectacular. If this is the rider the team is pinning their hopes on for success, good luck. They would be better off starting much like the New Zealand team is, at a lower lever, build up some strong, strong riders, and in 4 – 5 years time, then try for Pro-Tour status.

Maddave August 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm

@ ColoradoGoat

That would not be very Australian.

Flashing Pedals August 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm

they have to aim high. They’ve bought a bus.

Abdu Whereareyou August 5, 2011 at 2:38 am

Sheesh, what a downcast uninspiring lot… sounds like you’re all as distressed as your own national economies? The ‘system’ run by the UCI (and ASO) of establishing teams and expecting them to survive is ridiculous, HTC’s demise case in point (the most ‘winning’ team with a weathly sponsor can’t even survive?).

What do you all propose Greenedge do? How do they get sponsors without good riders and the promise of success? How do they recruit riders without the money and promise of being well run? How do they even recruit riders when existing teams are all signing / stealing others on the sly already? Funny that Leo-pard seemed to just arrive, yet no one bashed them about poaching riders? Guess it’s the old Euro-snobbery again…

@Coloradogoat – not sure what racing you’ve been watching, have you even seen the Tour de France and most of the Classics for any of the last several years? If so you might have noted Stuey O is one of the Superdomestiques aka patrons of the peloton. Stuey says “Go” and everyone does. Do you understand how racing works? They’ve got these things called teams, and not everyone is going to be a GC winner, so…oh forget it.

Last year’s Tour – Stuey sits on the front up the mountains with Jens, shelling the bunch down just leave Andy Schleck and AC mano o mano. Everyone else was a blubbering mess behind. He did that time and again. Winner of the Paris Roubaix, several yellow jerseys, etc. More racing smarts than most DS directing teams, hence why Andy Schleck follows him around like a puppy and Leo-pard paid big money to get him across. In races, Cancellara gets told when and how by Stuey too. When he finally hangs up the cleats he’s a ready-made DS. You can’t buy that sort of experience, hang on yes you can…Baden Cooke’s another, feel free to Google him.

Compare the establishment (and slavering support from media which created the support from fans) of Team Sky – it was like the second coming, and they built a team (poached) pretty quickly too. All flash Jags and Pinarello Dogma’s, sports scientists, etc etc. (which is actually needed to get intere3st from fat lazy journos, rider’s Managers, etc.). Some muppets don’t realise the need for some of the flash stuff when establishing a team or business…

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Poms, but it is just like their football team every World Cup. The bandwagon builds and builds, fanatical non-questioning support from journo’s and fans (in fact UK mags like Cycle Week become 12 year old Fan-boys) until the inevitable collapse in the big one – aka the Tour. Poor Wiggo, his 4th place in the Tour was like the 1966 World Cup – a romantic long gone memory that they all still hang on to.

This year had a large drop in the number of Aussies in the Tour (maybe because the DS suspected certain Aussie riders were going to leave so didn’t select them?), but there are a large number who can match it with the best just ready for a shot (some other wildcards as signings might be Cam Wurf from Liquigas, David Tanner from Saxo too).

Abdu Whereareyou August 5, 2011 at 5:40 am

So there we have it – Greenedge announces the signing of the two best young Aussies in Cam Meyer and Jacky Bobby, as well as the signing of young African star Teklehaymanot (great gutsy thing to do by Greenedge, will be great to see it pay off – especially when JV’s Garmin didn’t want him).

Rohan August 5, 2011 at 8:19 am

@Abdu Whereareyou

Can’t fault your observations about Stuey O’Grady, the guy is an unsung legend.

What it seem that you haven’t manage to observe is the refreshingly civil tone on this blog.

CGradeCyclist August 8, 2011 at 7:19 am

…and Stuey is now a confirmed signing for GreenEdge… :)

Hallelujah!! Can’t ask for much more in terms of an experienced road captain to guide and teach the youngstars on the team…

TheFutureIsGreen August 18, 2011 at 5:39 am

O’Grady to GreenEdge
Gerrans to GreenEdge
Do all you guys have red faces now??

The Inner Ring August 18, 2011 at 9:02 am

TheFutureIsGreen: Ha! My point was that it wasn’t so well handled, riders having to deny things.

Better to have the standard press release, “I’m really excited to join Team ABC-XYZ etc”.

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