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Even after Pegasus Sports’ ambitious ProTeam plans collapsed this month, a new effort to create a Tour de France-caliber squad based in Australia appears to be taking wings.
Gerry Ryan, a caravan and mobile home tycoon based in Melbourne, confirmed to The Australian newspaper that he’s moving forward with plans to create a new team that could be ready to hit the road for the 2012 season.
“I’m looking at all options. All I can confirm is all will be revealed at a press conference in Alelaide at 3pm on January 17 at the Tour Down Under,” Ryan told The Australian on Thursday. “I’ve looked at the Pegasus Project and the Melbourne-based Australian Road Cycling projects, and sadly, for one reason or another, they never materialized.”
The moves come in the wake of the failed effort by the Pegasus team to secure either a ProTeam and a Pro Continental license. The Brisbaine-based team lost a major financial backer in early October and that threw its plans to create Australia’s first major team into turmoil.
Pegasus plans to forge ahead this season, racing with a continental license that will likely be announced early next month, but that vacuum has created an opening for Ryan.
The 60-year-old Ryan is already a major backer of Australian cycling, co-sponsoring the Jayco criterium series in early January and as well as supporting Cycling Australia’s elite training facility based in Varese, Italy.
Also linked to the project is longtime Australian cycling head coach Shayne Bannan, who resigned from his post Cycling Australia on Thursday. Former pro Neil Stephens, who recently left his position as a sport director at Caisse d’Epargne, is also said to be working on the project.
Bannan would likely be the general manager and run the team while Stephens would be its lead sport director. Bannan said he would be making an announcement in mid-January about his future, something that further confirms Ryan’s entrée into cycling.