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By Jason Sumner VeloNews Associate Editor
It’s taken a bit of scrambling, but it looks like Dave Cullinan will be riding a Diamondback this year. Word is a verbal agreement has been reached and it’s just a matter of pushing the paperwork through. The deal — assuming it happens — will provide much relief for the 31-year-old gravity rider, who unexpectedly found himself without a team in late December when Schwinn dumped him in favor of 20-year-old Frenchman Mickael Deldycke. Cullinan had been with Schwinn for nearly four years.
“If I get through all this, racing will be easy this year,” said Cullinan, who added that he wasn’t informed about Schwinn’s decision until right before Christmas. “It was really frustrating. I always gave 100 percent to the company. I wanted to ride for them until I couldn’t ride anymore. I feel like I kind of got screwed.”
The dismissal from Schwinn capped a very tough year for Cullinan. A chronically sore wrist that finally snapped during the world championships in June, forced Cullinan to miss a portion of the season. And even when he was riding the results weren’t spectacular. In the World Cup, he finished 58th overall in the downhill after competing in just one race. In dual things weren’t much better, as Cullinan made it to just two races, finishing 20th in the overall standings. Deldycke finished fourth in the final World Cup dual standings and is considered one of the sport’s rising stars.
The NORBA series was slightly kinder to Cullinan. He was 10th in the final dual standings. But in downhill, despite a second-place finish in the series’s opening race, Cullinan ended up 61st overall because of missed time.
“I’m definitely coming into this year as an underdog,” Cullinan said. “But I still think I’m capable of winning races.”
Since the break-up with Schwinn, Cullinan has been working with old friend Brad Lusky, who used to be with Haro and is now a sports agent with The Famile, a firm that represents alternative sports athletes like snowboarder Barrett Christy and freestyle BMX rider Dave Mira.
“Getting let go by Schwinn so late definitely hurt Dave, and I think they were trying to keep its options open as long as they could,” Lusky said. “But early or late it would have been tough because things are so tight in the industry. It’s difficult to find financial help right now.”
Cullinan’s deal with Diamondback will likely be just a frame sponsorship, and he and Lusky are still pursuing other companies to fill out the rider’s needs.