Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team Dies Ultimo 2008
Search for resurrection partner continues.
As a follow up to the team’s announcement released May 2, 2008, when the team stated they were in search of a new Title sponsor for 2009, Team Owner, Sean Tucker, held a conference call earlier today with his riders, staff and management. He announced to the team that although there were ongoing discussions with two potential Title sponsors, the team would not be able to have a contract signed within the UCI team license registration deadline for Pro Continental status in order to keep this specific group of riders together for the 2009 season. In effect, this means that the team as it has been known for three years in name, and the current composition of riders, staff and management will cease to exist as of December 31, 2008.
“Although, most of our riders are under contract until December 31, 2008 and we are not obligated to release them prior to this date, we have decided that even though we think we will have a new sponsor signed by the end of November for Continental Team status in 2009, we do not want to put the riders in a position of not being able to obtain employment in the event our sponsorship contract is not ultimately signed leaving the riders in a bad spot,” said Tucker.
“It’s truly a pity that we were not able to get a contract signed in time to keep our family together going forward, even though we have a couple of sponsors who can potentially sign in the coming months,” continued Tucker. Due to most marketing planning budget cycles, corporations are unable to make financial decisions and therefore sign contracts until the fourth quarter which is past the UCI’s registration deadline for Pro Continental status. In addition, with the recent UCI rule changes for Continental Team status, teams cannot hire more than four specialists to compensate for older age riders in order to comply with the UCI requirement of the teams’ majority of riders being under age 28. The average age of the majority of Toyota-United’s riders have been over 28, but with the pre-existing specialist rule, they have been in compliance with the UCI guidelines for three consecutive years.
“In any other industry this rule would qualify as age discrimination, but not in the world of cycling, where a team cannot race without a UCI approved team license governed exclusively by UCI rules and issued by each countries home cycling federation who are required to enforce such rules. Today I was forced to tell my riders that although I have money burning a hole in my pocket to support the team and we have contractual commitments from many of our current sponsors for 2009, we cannot give them a job because they are either too old, or we don’t have enough time to sign our new sponsor by the imposed UCI deadline to become either a Continental or Pro Continental team in 2009,” continued Tucker.
Toyota-United has competed in America’s largest stage races such as the Amgen Tour of California, Tour de Georgia and Tour